Travel

Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement is an abode for the believer and the explorer

If you were to take a left turn on the dusty highway that connects Mysuru to the highlands of Coorg, and trek for a kilometre and a half, the profusion of Tibetan flags, the signages in Tibetan and scores of Buddhist monks walking about, makes it appear like you have reached a new country. Prayer flags flutter in the light breeze and we can see the huge arches of the Namdroling monastery. Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement, has arrived. The monastery is choc-a-bloc with tourists. Its colourful murals depicting the lives and times of Buddha and his followers are a huge draw.

An abode for the believer

Inside the monastery are statues of the Buddha Padmasambhava, Buddha Amitayus and Buddha Shakyamuni. The Padmasambhava is also known as the Second Buddha and is believed to have played a vital role in the spread of Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan. The Amitayus are celestial Buddhas known for longevity. Another stand-out feature is the prayer wheels situated at one end of the monastery that borders paddy fields. It is believed that rotating the prayer wheels brings good luck and prosperity. If you are confident, you can try and rotate the prayer wheels that surround the monastery compound. The wheels are believed to contain consecrated mantras and prayers, and turning them in a clockwise direction is supposed to benefit others. Although turning the wheels is considered an alternative to chanting mantras, most devotees tend to combine the two activities.

Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement is an abode for the believer and the explorer

The huge complex also hosts monastic colleges and occasionally you can spot monks going about their daily routine. The monastery is massive, and the huge arches, the spinning prayer wheels and spires add to the grandeur of the complex. There are plenty of spots where one can relax and meditate. Small shops selling memorabilia from the monastery and produce from Coorg are also there. Outside the complex, I run into Prashant P, an auto driver who shares with us the history of the settlement. “This is one of the oldest settlements in the area and was set up in the late 1950s. Apart from the Namdroling Monastery, the Sera Jay monastery is also popular, where classes are held for monks. It is a bit off the tourist track.”

To find peace and quiet

We set off for Sera Jay, past paddy fields and Tibetan colonies on the hillocks and in quick time, arrive at the imposing structure. If you are looking for some peace and quiet, this is where you can get it. You can lose track of time by watching the monks. The huge verandah of the complex is beautiful, though not open to visitors. Prashant says, “It consists of two monasteries, Sera Jey and Sera Mey. The question-answer sessions and debate sessions at the monasteries are great to watch.”

Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement is an abode for the believer and the explorer

No visit to Bylakuppe is complete without mentioning its food. There are fried and steamed momos sold at small stalls and the Tibetan thupka, a noodle soup served with Tibetan bread. College student Vishal Prasad comes to Bylakuppe from his college in Mysuru just to sample the food. He says, “This settlement has the best Tibetan food. It is very tough to find this food, in the rest of South India. What I like about Bylakuppe is the manner in which they have transplanted their culture in a completely new place.”

Getting there: Bylakuppe is about 87 kilometres from Mysuru and is well connected by bus. You can also get rickshaws from Kushalnagar.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2021 9:33:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/travel/bylakuppe-a-tibetan-settlement-is-an-abode-for-the-believer-and-the-explorer/article23975769.ece

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