Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bylakuppe - Golden Temple

I have generally seen people raise eye brows, when I say Golden Temple. There are 3 Golden Temples in our country.

1] The Golden Temple at Amritsar - The original one, only know to most people.
2] The Golden Temple at Sripuram - Inaugurated in 2007, built at a cost of 600cr.
3] The Golden Temple at Bylakuppe - The Namdroling Monastery.

During Dasara last year, the plan was to drive the kids down. Something easily accessible and out of the world would be Golden Temple.

Started the day leisurely. The Ring road is just 1km from my place which would later join the Hunsur road. The roads were empty and superb and it was a pleasant day. A good 75kms drive from Mysore -> Hunsur -> Periyapatna -> Bylekuppe. An arch welcomes you from the junction. As we drove 3kms to reach the Temple, we saw the entire Tibet there. Tailors, Florists, Schools, Banks, Groceries, Fruit and Vegetable vendors, Art and Music School. Finally spotted a building at a distance.

This whole area started out (and still is to some degree) as a refugee camp for Tibetan people escaping the events in there homeland. The settlements were established on land leased by the state government to accommodate some of the Tibetan refugees who came to resettle in India after 1959. And in 1961 they were resettled in South India in Bylakuppe in a series of Tibetan camps.

Colorful prayer flags all over the place, all the while I loved watching them flutter.

They have set up their country here. The practice agriculture to suffice their needs. During the 4km drive you would drive through corps and plantations. It is also contains a number of monasteries, nunneries and temples in all the major Tibetan Buddhist traditions.

There are myriad such structures and this caught my attention. They were a set of 5 and each had a prayer wheel housed inside.

You can see hundreds of monks around. However I was unable to make out if they were really busy or just walking around. I also find it impossible to read expressions on their face, as most times its just blank. Otherwise they are extremely kind and friendly. Their region is a safe abode for the needy and helpless. If you were to stop them with a question, you would get an answer in good Hindi or English or they would shy away with a wide smile. Although didn't find anyone speaking Kannada.

The Buddhist monastery houses a staggering 5000 monks. The temples that have been built are such inspiring that no words can make justice.

The temples we saw were jaw-droppingly amazing. Just look at these photos.

In the main building one can see three huge statues, all with gold cladding, with Buddha in the center, Guru Rinpoche on his left and Buddha Amitayus on his right.

We were free to walk about as we pleased. We found the blue cushions situated inside each temple. These are for guests to sit. We sat and listened to the monks chant their Mantra's while others played hornpipes, cymbals, huge drums and Conch shell. An unforgettable experience.

There were 2 other temples in the same complex.

All walls are beautifully painted.

I remember reading stories where young boys are forcibly conscripted into the Chinese army in their Teens. Who would later escape and cross border to Nepal and then India to settle with Tibetan Refugee Status. Well ours is a country of tolerance. It only later they get to complete their schooling/education and adapt to a Buddhist Monk lifestyle. Their excellent English language proves that Chinese influence is nil. :-)

Some experiments with my D60.

I photo gives me some the feeling of being at the Himalayas.

Happily taking a nap under a tree. :-)

Friday, March 27, 2009

All posts from Delhi

All the post from my previous Delhi visit have been compiled here.

1] Red Fort
2] Birla Mandir
3] India Gate and Rashtrapathi Bhavan
4] RajGhat
5] Qutab Minar
6] Lotus Temple

Agra and Jaipur posts are in the pipeline.

Monday, March 09, 2009


This was my 12th visit to Melukote, but I had always taken the same road via Pandavapura or Maddur. But, this time it was from Sharavanabelagola. And only then I realized, I had missed so much. Aaaaah, this route is just heavenly. Contoured land, hilly terrain, greenery, dotted with ponds with huge Lotus. I have never ever seen a huge PINK LOTUS, except in a Photo or a Calendar which has Goddess Lakshmi. How much I wanted one for myself and I still continue to….. But, be warned in the 30+ minutes drive, we never ever saw one human being or vehicle.

Melukote is a small temple town cocooned between ancient rock formations known by Yadugiri, overlooking the Cauvery valley. Melkote became religiously and culturally important from 12 th century AD when Ramanujacharya spend around 12 precious years of his life in Melkote. The Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple and the Yoganarasimhaswamy temple overlooks the town of Melkote and it is around these temples that the pilgrimage is centered. Melkote is home to the oldest Sanskrit School in India dating back to 1853 situated within the temple premises.

My memories of Melokte dates back to Std 5. My first Scout and Guide camp, where I got to spend 3 day at Melukote. Exploring the temples, mantaps, tanks, hills, caves. Those exhausting days filled with morning jog, flag hoist, treasure hunt, cooking ended with camp fire. I literally know every nook and corner of the town. There it was still standing immune to the stride of time. This town just has 2 streets. The residents are mostly priests or from priestly families. The houses are old looking and nothing is modern here. Its quiet, peaceful and easygoing. People are friendly and hospitable, but you ought to be treated as untouchables, when they don’t obviously spot their trademark symbol on your forehead, and as they continue to suffer from ‘we-belong-to-superior-caste-complex’.

None can be a better guide to Melukote than me. Headed straight to Raya gopura.

Raya Gopura

A movie buff ought to identify this. Since, everyone from Rajkumar to Aishwarya Rai has danced here. I love these unfinished structures. On the other side is the Sankrit Research Institute. I can't relate falling-in-love to writing-on-structures.

There are steps, not easy though, but anyone adventurous can reach the top of the gopura, from where you can get a view of the entire Melukote.

Akka Thangi Kola

There are a pair of pond further down Raya Gopura. Interestingly the water of Akkana kola is sour-salty and that of Tangi kola is sweet. You are allowed to taste them. And to date only the sweet water is used at the temples.

The preist having his afteroon nap, the guard and people interested to taste the water.

Cheluvanarayanaswamy temple

The temple is richly endowed having been under the special patronage of the Mysore Rajas, and has a most valuable collection of jewels. As early as 1614, the Mysore king Raja Wodeyar who first acquired Srirangapatna and adopted the Srivaishnava faith, handed over to the temple and the Brahmins at Melkote, the estate granted to him by Vijaynagar king Venkatapati Raya. On one of the pillars of navaranga of the Narayanaswami temple is a bas relief about one and a half feet high, of Raja Wodeyar, standing with folded hands, with the name inscribed on the base. He was said to be a great devotee of the presiding deity and a constant visitor to the temple. A gold crown set with precious jewels was presented by him to the temple. This crown is known as the Raja-mudi after his name. From the inscriptions on some of the gold jewels and on gold and silver vessels in the temple it is learnt that they were presents from Krishnaraja Wodeyar III and his queens. Krishnaraja Wodeyar III also presented to the temple a crown studded with precious jewels. It is known after him as Krishnaraja-mudi. Vairamudi or Vajramukuta is said to be older than Raja-mudi and Krishnaraja-mudi.

All the three crowns are under the safe custody of the Government and brought to the temple for annual celebration of Vairamudi Utsava.

Pancha Kalyani and Bhuvaneshwari Mantapa at the foot of YogaNarasimha Temple Hill.

Walking around the Kalyani is a pleasure in itself.

Yoganarasimha temple on the top of a hill

Passing through these beautiful mantaps and climbing 200+ steps, you reach the shrine.

A view of the Melukote from hill top.

A visit to the Temple and we exit to capture the sunset.

And we descend......

Never miss the Puliogere in Melukote and some packets of Puliogere Gojju(mix) to bring home. Aaaah, this reminds me of a friend visiting Melukote at 2 in the night, in her dream and starts craving for Puliogere at that hour.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


On the way to Sharavanabelogala.....

We drive across the bridge over this canal. Haven’t come across any such rocky deep canal. It belongs to Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar days, but I seem to have forgotten the name.

Aaaaaahh… And our first glimpse of the hill. Could even see Gomateshwara. The greenery, the hill excited me so much that I ended overtaking the on guy on the bike(captured in the snap below) from right, and while he was approaching in the opposite direction! Arrr, awkward glances, to which I smiled back.

Sharavanabelogala in Hassan district, is an important Jain pilgrim centers. I consists of 2 hills, Vindyagiri and Chandragiri. A 100 steps leads you to the top of Vindyagiri. You are supposed to climb the hill bare foot. For those sensitive foots, they sell socks for Rs 10 per pair, which would last a climb.

Chandragiri and the Kalyani separating both hills, from Vindyagiri.

This one caught my attention on the way.

For the pages : The Vindhyagiri hill is home to a thousand year-old gigantic 17.38 meter high monolithic stone statue of the Bhagavan Gomateshwara Bahubali, considered to be the world's largest, built by Chamundaraya, a general of king Gangaraya. The base of the statue has inscriptions in Kannada, Tamil and the oldest evidence of written Marathi from 981 AD. Every 12 years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony where the thousand-year-old statue is anointed with milk, curds, ghee, saffron and sandal-paste.

The first glimpse

And then we enter..........

On either sides of Lord Bahubali, you find these sculptures.

And one of my favorite snaps.

Chandrgiri from atop Vindyagiri

Such mantaps and pillars always interest me.

As we explored this area, we found it was dotted by ‘pairs’ at regular intervals. I think, on falling in love, they gain expertise in lying and in finding secluded places.

He too was visiting the shrine.

After a lunch at the base, we drove towards Melukote. The highlight of the lunch was that it was 5 of us! When me, mom, dad, bro settled down under a tree, we were joined by a cute 45days old calf, which loved curd rice and hadn’t yet learned to eat a Banana peel.

Linked posts

Blog Widget by LinkWithin