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Old 31st December 2009, 11:26   #1
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Default Bylakuppe - A Photologue about a mini Tibet in Karnataka

A mini Tibet in South India, 2,000 kilometres from Tibet!

Bylakuppe - A Photologue about a mini Tibet in Karnataka-maingate.jpg

Had heard and read a lot about it so dropped in on my way to Bangalore from Vittal via Madikeri.

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40 kilometres from Madikeri is Bylakuppe, where the Indian government had leased 3,000 acres of land to the fleeing Tibetans in 1961.

Bylakuppe - A Photologue about a mini Tibet in Karnataka-monastery.jpg

The’ Lugsum Samdupling’ settlement has grown to a veritable township with monasteries, nunneries and cafes and stalls that showcase the Tibetan way of life. Bylakuppe is the largest Tibetan community in exile with about 40,000 people in five settlements containing monasteries, kindergarten to higher level secondary schools, health care clinics, a hospital and a traditional Tibetan medical facility.

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As you near the settlement you will find monks in robes zipping past on two wheelers. Makes one wonder – what’s the hurry for the monks? Ah well, the monks here are well rooted in tradition and well connected with all modern technology too.

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You will see monks chatting away on a mobile phone in one hand and rolling beads on his rosary in another!

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All the monks exude a friendliness and warmth towards all visitors and are ready to answer any question that is put to them.

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The most visited temple here is Namdroling (The Golden Temple) and the signage is loud and clear. And of course you can spot it from afar.

The monastery attached to this temple is considered to be one of the best places for higher learning. This monastery dedicated to the teachings of Palyul Lineage of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism was established by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche shortly after he came to India from Tibet.

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Three beautiful larger than life gold plated statues look down at visitors above the altar. Buddha around 60 feet tall holds prominent place, flanked

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by Guru Padmasambhava and

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Amitayush (each around 58 feet tall).

The walls are adorned with colourful paintings depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology.

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The altar is decorated with flowers, candles and incense.

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Dragons twirl up pillars on two sides of the platform.

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The entrance has a curtain of beads which is the favourite of kids who love going in and out.

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We stepped out and were generally looking around when we saw monks streaming into another temple nearby. We followed and were rewarded by a pleasing rendition of chants as they sat down,

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opened the books on the bench in front of them and started praying.

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Three of them sat at a bench where there were these long wind instruments which were blown at strategic intervals.

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A senior (I think) monk played the cymbals while another beat the drum occasionally.

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After about five minutes of chanting, a couple of monks walked in with a kettle of water and offered it to a few of the monks who were chanting.

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Outside on the lawns there was a group of monks relaxing from whatever they were doing and readily agreed to be photographed.

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The exterior of the new Zangdokpalri temple looks majestic with a majestic rainbow arch.
We are so used to being told not to photograph the idols in temples, that the ready willingness of the monks to let the idols in their temples being photographed is such a pleasant and welcome surprise.

If you are driving from Mysore towards Madikeri by SH 88, Bylakuppe appears a few kilometres ahead of Kushalnagar town. A sign board gives indication towards the left on the road to Madikeri. Kushalnagar is about 30 km from Madikeri town.

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There's a large parking area near the Golden Temple. A shopping arcade next to it houses many curios shops and restaurants. There are not many hotels in Bylakuppe, though there is some guesthouse accommodation as part of the Monastery. Better options for stay are available at Kushalnagar and Madikeri.
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Bylakuppe - A Photologue about a mini Tibet in Karnataka-namdroling.jpg  

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Old 31st December 2009, 11:36   #2
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Nice pictures. BTW i think Tibet will be more than 3000 KM from Bangalore not 2,000.
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Old 31st December 2009, 11:38   #3
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Great Photos magiceye! Indeed Golden temple is a very nice place to visit. My in-laws farm house is about 2-3 kms from the golden temple and whenever we visit the farm, we make it a point to drop by the golden temple.

Though what you say about most monks there is true, not everyone is as friendly and have some kind of an attitude/rudeness about them which has to be experienced to be believed.
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Old 31st December 2009, 11:38   #4
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Amazing pictures and good narration. I should visit this place sometime. The Tibetans seem to be leading a comfortable life here.
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Old 31st December 2009, 11:40   #5
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Very nice pictures there. Had gone there about 3 years back. It was as you just said magnificent and yet serene.

There are three main Tibetan settlements in India. Gangtok, Dharamshala and Madikeri. I have seen all the three and I found Madikeri to be the most serene of all followed by Gangtok and Dharamshala. This may be because of the number people who reside in these places.
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Old 1st January 2010, 00:05   #6
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Hi Magic eye,

Mind blowing photos of the Buddhist monastery, Chorten, Gompa, Lamas, Musical Instruments and the deities and the incredible dragon. You took me back to my 28 years of life of Bhutan with the Photos of Buddhist life of Mysore. Happy Losar. Tashi Delek.
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