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Where vibrance and serenity meet: A Tibetan settlement 

A journey to Bylakuppe is a culturally enriching and spiritually refreshing experience, writes N J Ravi Chander.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 23:29 IST

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Our journey to Bylakuppe was a unique experience. Leaving Bengaluru behind, we ventured into Periyapatna in Mysuru district, where we took a detour from the highway. We found ourselves on a path less travelled, surrounded by lush fields, quaint Buddhist houses and small monasteries. The sight of vibrant prayer flags acted as a captivating welcome to Bylakuppe, the second-largest Tibetan settlement in India, after Dharamshala. 

In 1959, when China invaded Lhasa, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet along with about 80,000 Tibetans. Some of them found refuge in the town of Bylakuppe in Mysuru district. The Indian government, recognising their plight, donated 3,000 acres of land to the displaced Tibetans, and the first Tibetan settlement came up.

The land here was barren, and so, it was known as ‘byla koppa’ (barren land). The picturesque town soon transformed into a mini Tibet. 

Visiting the temple

Today, stepping into the Namdroling Monastery's 'Golden Temple' is not just a visit; it is a spiritual journey. The architectural marvels, including an ornate four-storey tower with a wheel, are a testament to human creativity and devotion. The larger-than-life portrait of Penor Rinpoche, the visionary behind this monastery, welcomes visitors into the vibrant blue and gleaming golden structure. 

The temple was initially constructed out of bamboo and renovated later. The renovation began in 1995 and concluded in 1999. The new temple, the Padmasambhava Buddhist Vihara (or the Golden Temple) was inaugurated in September 1999. 

Forty-foot high-gilded statues of Guru Padmasambhava, the Buddha and Amitayus at the temple complex greet the eye. The statues, made with semi-precious stones, are placed on lofty platforms. Gigantic, vibrant murals adorn the exterior walls beside the doorway, each depicting a unique narrative. The crimson doors are decorated with oversized golden knockers and a braided rope embellished with tassels. Vibrant paintings of gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology adorn the walls, telling tales of Tibetan history. 

The monastery offers a rich cultural experience, from the serene atmosphere of the altar and the prayer wheels to the bustling shopping centres, offering a unique array of traditional Tibetan items. The shops present a perfect opportunity to take a piece of this unique cultural experience home with you, a tangible memory of your visit to the Namdroling Monastery.

A vibrant hub of knowledge, the monastery attracts many young Tibetans seeking enlightenment and education. It also beckons tourists from India and abroad, eager to immerse themselves in this experience. 

One can visit Bylakuppe at any time of the year. However, the best time to visit the monastery is during the Tibetan New Year (Losar), celebrated with much fanfare in February or March. This festival is a significant event in the Tibetan calendar, marking the beginning of a new year and a time for renewal and reflection. During that time, the monastery hosts traditional colourful Lama dances and giant thangkas, Tibetan silk paintings with embroidery depicting Buddhist symbols. 

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Published 19 June 2024, 23:29 IST

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