Did you know that the largest Tibetan settlement outside of Tibet is actually in a village called Bylakuppe in Kushal Nagar in the southern state of Karnataka. Experience Tibet at Bylakuppe in Kushal Nagar where you will find more than 10000 Tibetans making a living by farming, far away from their homeland. Kushal Nagar is an amazing place for a weekend getaway from Bangalore. You will get to experience Tibet and Tibetan lifestyle through the Golden temple, educational monastic institutions and monasteries like Namdroling and Tashilunpo.
Bylakuppe in Kushal Nagar was established in early 1960s to accommodate refugees from Tibet after the Chinese invasion. It comprises of two settlements Lugsum Samdupling and Dickyi Larsoe.
Without doubt, The Golden Temple in Bylakuppe in Kushal Nagar is the biggest attraction here. As you enter the Golden temple you will be overwhelmed by 3 giant (40 feet) statues of Padmasambhava, Buddha and Amitayus. The walls of the temple are a riot of colors. Incidents from Tibetan mythology are painted across the walls. Sit and meditate here for a tranquil experience you will seldom get anywhere else! It is open from 7am till 8pm.
Namdroling monastery is the biggest learning centre in the world for Nyingmapa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Managed by the Sangha community it houses over five thousand monks and nuns who live the traditional Tibetan way of life. If you are lucky to arrive at a time when the prayer is on, then you will experience the hypnotism of hundreds of monks chanting in unison! The complex also houses a monastic college or "shedra" where monks and nuns are trained in logic, philosophy, debate, etc.
You can experience Tibet by staying in the monastery premises or just by the front gate at the Paljor Dhargey Ling Guest House.
Sera Jey Monastery is one of the three main monastic institutes of Gelug (Lama Tsong Khapa) tradition founded in early 15th century in Tibet. It was set up in Bylakuppe in 1970. It is a university for advanced Buddhist studies and practice. The curriculum is based on centuries old traditions of Prayers, Puja & Rituals. The best time to visit would be during one of the several ceremonial events that happen. Choenga Choepa Day is one of the more popular events among Tibetan devotees.
Tashi Lhunpo Monastery is seat to the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader of Tibet. The monastery looks after the physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing of over 300 monks. Young monks join the monastery between the ages of 9 and 11. The curriculum is borrowed from Tashi Lhunpo in Shigatse in Tibet. During the sixteen years of Lobnyeir, Higher Studies, the monks will cover the arts of healing, dialectics, Sanskrit. Metaphysics, art and the philosophy of religion.
The Monastery now also offers modern education in its new school, where the young monks study Tibetan language and literature, Hindi, Chinese, English, Math’s, Science and Social Studies.
Most of the monks are friendly and so you can start a conversation! Some will have adventures to share of their escape from Lhasa and journey to Bylakuppe. Other than soothing your soul, Bylakuppe will also leave you with a smile.
Where else will you find monks in traditional attire driving tractors on farms sporting a grin!
Bylakuppe is 50 kms from Mysore near the town of Kushal Nagar in Kodagu district of Karnataka. It is best accessed by road from Mysore.
If you want to stay at Namdroling monastery, then you will need to call (91) 8223-252-962 for reservations. However note the facilities will be rustic. The facilities available are private baths with cold bucket showers, a ceiling fan and some limited electricity.
Some important dates when festivities peak at Bylakuppe are Tibetan New Year in February/March , Sagadawa the holy festival in May/June , Buddha Jayanthi in June and Dalai Lama's birthday on July 6.
For homestays in India where you have a hospitable host and home cooked food, visit India Holiday Ideas.
For my travelogues on other weekend getaways from Bangalore, visit Bangalore Weekend Ideas.