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. :-)


sandeep said...

i agree ... its indeed an awesome place to visit and easily accessible. i'd never been happy there with the time i got for photographs :(

Mridula said...

I have been there too and what a lovely place it is, reminded me of Ladakh and Spiti immediately.

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