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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Bylakuppe – India’s Largest Tibetan Settlement in Interior Karnataka

It was a bright spring afternoon and me and my friends were getting back to Bangalore after camping the weekend at Dubare. We were 4 hours ahead of schedule and decided to spend this time at Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement that flourishes here in interior Karnataka in Coorg.


Bylakuppe is just 4 kms away from Kushalnagar and one can enter the settlement through the arch like entrance. As soon as we crossed this arch, we felt as if we had arrived at a different country.


The entire landscape was strewn with prayer flags, stupas and monasteries of the Sakya, Kagyur, Nyingmapa and the Yello-Hat Gelugpa sects of Vajrayana Buddhism. Every 10-15 feet, one could spot a Free Tibet signboard/banner and flag supporting the ‘Free Tibet’ movement.


The building architecture was different, the people were different and their attire was different. Honestly, we felt like we were in a fantasy world coz 10 minutes back we were in rustic Karnataka and amongst typical Indians.


We could see the Namdroling Monastery or Golden Temple glistening in the far distance. This monastery is the main tourist attraction here. There are 3 other monasteries here and out of these 3, the Kagyu or the Kagyudpa is located at an elevation.


As we entered the monastery campus, all I could do was just gape in wonder at some of the crafts and the caricatures. The doors, the prayer wheels and the drums were all heavily decorated.


As soon as we entered the main shrine of the Golden Temple, we could see the spectacular 40 feet high statues of Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayus.


We could hear the sound of gongs in the nearby shrine and found out that a prayer session was in progress. One feels at complete peace inside the shrine. The glitter, the intricate design and the well thought out decorations hardly cause any distraction.


After exploring the temple shrine, we spent some time chatting with a group of Buddhist students before proceeding to the shops at Camp 1. Bylakuppe is a great place to pick up an assortment of Tibetan goods, especially thangpas, prayer wheels, incense and Tibetan music.


Bylakuppe and its Golden Temple – a great family weekend getaway from Bangalore!!



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