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Bylakuppe – A little bit of Tibet

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The Golden Temple is a must visit in Bylakuppe

From an article in The New India Express by Dr. B R Mamatha:

Tibet…remains inaccessible to common tourists and is the least explored travel destination in the world. Fortunately, a little bit of Tibet is well within our reach. Bylakuppe, a relatively unknown Tibetan township, the second largest settlement in India, provides the colours and taste for all those who yearn for a visit to Tibet.

Bylakuppe is situated 90 kilometres from Mysore on State Highway 88, close to Kushalanagar in Madikeri district.  It comprises  two Tibetan refugee settlements that were setup in 1961 and 1969 respectively and has now grown into a full-fledged town housing the largest Tibetan population outside Dharamsala. Comprising a number of small camps, it has several monasteries, nunneries and temples of all the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions. Most notable among them include the large educational monastic institution, Sera, the smaller, Tashilunpo monastery (both in the Gelukpa tradition) and Namdroling monastery (in the Nyingma tradition).

The Namdroling Monastery or the Golden Temple is located in the Camp Four of the settlement. The campus contains well manicured gardens, immaculate buildings and a large open space. You are welcomed by a large majestic rainbow arch outside the temple.  There is a series of prayer wheels outside the temple which you spin before you enter it.  It is believed that turning prayer wheels that contain prayer scrolls in a clockwise direction is equivalent to actually saying the prayer.

…I was stunned by the vibrant hues of this monastery. At the altar are 40 feet high, gold-plated statues of the Buddha in the centre and Padmasambhava and Amitayus on his left and right respectively. The temple wall and ceilings covered by exotic red and gold fresco gives you a peep into Tibetan mythology. They are intricately decorated with exotic patterns and murals of Tibetan Buddhist themes. The sight of these big statues, monks clad in maroon and yellow robes, the smell of incense in the air, candles burning in front of the golden statues, chanting of hymns, sounds of cymbals and drums almost puts you into a meditative trance.

The lesser known Sera Monastic University  is about 3 kms from Namdroling Monastery. We walked for 20 minutes on a dirt road with beautiful green fields on either side to reach Kagyudpa Nalanda Institute .You need to climb a fleet of stairs to get to the main door. It is relatively new and smaller than the Golden temple but more beautiful and brighter.  The temple has a distinctive aura and peace that you feel even as you enter the monastery. A beautiful gold-plated statue of Buddha in sitting posture dominates the main hall.

The most beautiful campus is in the Sakya Monastery which is the smallest of all of them. The monks here are known as the singing monks. They play the local Tibetan musical instruments and sing very beautifully.

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Author: Daniela

I was born in Croatia, at that time Yugoslavia. My family moved to the US when I was very young, but I still treasure the memories of my grandfather teaching me how to protect myself against the "evil eye," my grandmother shopping early every morning, at the open air market, to buy the freshest vegetables for the day's meals, and the traditions that were the underpinnings of our society. Someone once noted that "For all of us that want to move forward, there are a very few that want to keep the old methods of production, traditions and crafts alive." I am a fellow traveler with those who value the old traditions and folk wisdom. I believe the knowledge they possess can contribute significantly to our efforts to build a more sustainable world; one that values the individual over the corporation, conservation over growth and happiness over wealth.

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