Timeless Moments in Bylakuppe,One of the largest Tibetan settlement in India

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May 7th 2012
Published: May 7th 2012
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After having a wonderful first half clicking around at The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, I returned to my hotel room in Mysore. I still had the rest of the day to explore some more places in and around Mysore. I recalled, some years ago when I was living in Bangalore, I had a friend from Tibet, Kalsang. Once he mentioned about Bylakuppe, one of the largest Tibetan settlement in India and the beautiful monasteries around. My brain clicked and I checked with the Hotel reception immediately.

‘How far is Kushalnagar?’, I asked.

‘Almost 2 hours’ drive from here’, hotel manager replied.

‘Thank you’, I disconnected the intercom.

Within 10 minutes I had my camera ready and I walked down to the City bus stand in Mysore. I love Karnataka not only for its beautiful destinations but also ‘The Best’ transport connectivity in India. I was asking around about the buses to Kushalnagar. One guy pointed out to platform no. 3. I gradually walked to the platform no. 3 and I saw almost 5 buses were ready to start immediately. To go to Kushalnagar, one has to take a bus to Madikeri.

‘Kushalnagar?’ I asked.

‘Hop in’, conductor nodded.

In next 10 minutes I was enjoying the beautiful and clean city streets of Mysore. And in next 20 minutes I was cruising through Bangalore-Madikeri Road. The first big stop was at Hunsuru, a big sub divisional town in Karnataka. The turf between Mysore to Hunsuru was just a paradise to all the cruisers and my

KSRTC 'Bus man' did live up to my expectation. The bus halted here for about 5 minutes and hit the road again. The road between Hunsuru to Kushalnagar took almost an hour and half and was so scenic that I was enjoying every bit of it. I was travelling with a Monk and his granddaughter. He was telling me the stories of Bylakuppe and the monasteries. The bus was roaring at the top gears and climate was cozy enough to enjoy every moment of it. I was thinking about my next line of plans. This extension of Coorg is really eye pleasing. Lush green terrains, long winding roads, Aromas like fresh morning glory and drive

Amidst coffee and pepper plantations which was aplenty. Around 4pm the bus dropped me at Kushalnagar bus stand. This place seemed to me like any other district town in Karnataka with all sort of modern amenities available. I was gazing around in search of a vehicle to drive me to Bylakuppe which was merely 2 and half miles away from Kushalnagar. I walked out of the bus stand and found a fellow in mid-forties waiting with his three wheelers.

'Bylakuppe?', I asked

'Golden Temple?', He asked further

'Yes sir',I replied

'30 rupees sir', he said

'Let’s go’, I hoped in.

Upon asking his name, he said, ‘Ayub'. He took a diversion from the freeway and was asking about my whereabouts and reason for visiting this place. I got his 'between the lines' that he was trying to clinch a deal. I got the point and asked him straight.

'How many temples are here apart from the Golden Temple?'

'Sir, there are 4 more', he replied.

'And how much you are going to squeeze out of my pocket if I would make a visit to all four of them’, I offered him a deal.

'Sir, there is a long trip for 4 monasteries that would cost around Rs.400 and there is a short trip of 4 monasteries which would be lesser, Rs.250',He got me thinking.

I couldn't understand his offer. If there are four monasteries how come there are 'long and short' trips. Is he planning to rip me? I sank deep in my thoughts. He realized his answer was a kind of a riddle to me which I was playing a hard ball to decode. He went further describing the details.

'Sir, apart from The Golden Temple, there are four more monasteries. Sera Je, Sera Mey, Kagyu and a newly built one. If you would like to visit all four except Kagyu which eventually isolated from the others, would cost you Rs.250. Makes sense?'

I got his point, but to let others understand him in a better way, there are 5 monasteries in this Bylakuppe-Kushal Nagar Sector. Namdroling (Which is known as the Golden Temple to the locals), Sera Jey, Sera Mey, Kagyu and a newly constructed one which neither him nor I was sure about the name. I was thinking what to do as it was almost 4:30pm and I eventually picked up an overcast day which would mean that the sunlight won't be available much longer to make good shots. I asked him to drop Kagyu this time and clinched the 'short deal' with Rs. 250/-. He seemed to be happy enough with that too.

Drive from Kushalnagar to Bylakuppe was through narrow city lanes and didn't take more than 20 minutes to reach The Golden Temple. Unlike my other tours, I found a bit of a crowd here as being a public holiday, people from faraway places decided to take a short diversion to this place enroute Madikeri, Coorg. Other than that I didn't feel anyone has any sort interest in Monasteries or how the monks lead their lives here. A typical South Indian crowd who really got messed up this place with any other Hindu Temple and was trying a make a fuss here.I love visiting monasteries mostly for the peaceful environment and tidiness which really a 'big miss' in any other Hindu Temple. I walked inside and found a 'Big Hostel' kind of building to me left, indeed that was the place where the monks live. I walked further ahead and found that entire campus was huge and maintained with utmost creativity and serenity. I moved ahead to the main temple after clicking a few more shots. The main Buddha Idol was almost 80 feet tall and was crafted with a lot of colorful impressions. In front of the idol a natural sphere was tried to project and it was done with utmost neutrality that I could see a few birds were enjoying this wonderful place as well. As usual the 'messed up' tourists were trying to create a mess with packs of 'Frito Lays' and 'Gooddays'. I was really getting my 'apples hot' so decided to walk out of this place immediately. I was feeling pity for the monks that their purpose of practicing meditation really went for the day for these ‘immature’ tourists out there. I tried to pose a few shots with monks and they seemed to very humble people with a smile on their face always. Time was running out for me and I had 3 more to visit. Ayub was waiting for me and he clutched his "Merc" faster to Sera Je. Once we drove out of The Golden Temple, I found that the bunch of tourists were not following this route which gave me a slight indication that their "diversion" was just for the Golden Temple not for the other monasteries here. From Namdorling to Sera Je may be a mile's drive and yes ! I was the only person to enjoy the serenity. I interacted with a few more monks and tried to learn about their routines and how they feel staying furthest from home. I really liked their answers and yes, with a smile always. After spending sometime in Sera Je and Sera Mei I saw a small Tibetan Restaurant just outside the Sera Mei monastery. I realized that I didn't have a bite of grains to eat since morning. I was more curious to have 'Momo','Fing Sha' and 'Tingmo' after some years. I asked Ayub whether these monks allow other tourists to stay in their hostels then I could give it a try for a night. He said that they usually don't but if I say I was just alone and would like to do some research, they might allow. I got his trick again. I spoke with one of the main administrators of the Sera Mei monastery and almost begged with utmost innocence to spend one night at the hostel. Since I was born I realized that my innocent face was the key to my success. My job, my marriage everything went hassle-free because of my innocence and here I was a 'no exceptional' as well. I asked Ayub bhai to return to Kushal Nagar and to pick me up at the early am next day. Rest of the evening I spent time roaming around the places and sharing my travelling experiences with the monks. Since being requested by the administrator, I am not sharing the routines and the other 'High profile but sensitive' discussions about Tibet and the Tibetans.

I had a wonderful dinner with the monks and it was Momos,Tingmo and Shapta. I was feeling like being in heaven. One thing for sure, I need to visit this

Place quite often. It's not a 'one time' place to come, see and leave but a place which would give strength to your lungs to breath afresh. I am in love with this place. However, unwillingly I woke up with Ayub bhai's honk, next day around 7am. After expressing my sincere thanks and gratitude to the monks whom I

Befriended with during my stay in Bylakuppe for just more than 16 hours. I am sure that the bunch of tourists seeking their 'Vacation' will not visit this place as it has nothing but the 'music of traquility,peace and harmony' which I may have longed for years. Love you Bylakuppe. God bless all !!!


8th May 2012

Your journey
Exceptional description. Really enjoyed your write up.
8th May 2012

Wonderful writings!!!
9th May 2012

Touched the path - great
Bylakuppe, think the most glorious travel journey you have had, touched the sole. True moments of happiness is rare moments of travelling. Thanks to you for sharing such a nice travelogue.

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