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Bylakuppe Namdroling Monastery

Place : Mysore, Karnataka
Significance : The largest teaching center of Nyingmapa (a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism) in the world
Best Season : Tibetan New Year (in February or early March)
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Bylakuppe in Karnataka State is a home for thousands of Tibetans living in exile and a centre for Tibetan Buddhism in South India

Tucked away in the coorg mountains, a hillstation in Karnataka, famous for its dense forests and coffee and oranges plantations, Bylakuppe is located to the west of the Mysore district. It is 6 kms away from the twin town Kushalnagar and 85 km from Mysore. A visit by the His Holiness The Fourteenth Dalai Lama draws people from all over India and the world.

Bylakuppe is a combination of two settlements, established by Lugsum Samdupling (in 1961) and Dickyi Larsoe (in 1969) nestled next to each other.

At Bylakuppe one can see Tibetan prayer flags hanging in trees. Buddhist monks with their traditional red robes.

The main tourist attraction here is the magnificient Buddhist Golden Temple 'Namdroling Nyingmapa Monastery'. The largest teaching center of Nyingmapa (a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism) in the world, it is home to a sangha community of 5,000 monks and nuns of all ages, a religious college and hospital.

The monastery was established by Kyabje Penor Rinpoche in 1963, following his 1959 exit from Tibet as the second seat of the Palyul Monastery. Also known as Golden Temple, the monastery’s gold-tipped stupas shines especially when hit by the afternoon sun.

Stepping inside the entrance through the two huge red doors feels like another world. The doors are embossed with gold carvings and intricate murals based on Tantric Buddhism. Inside the temple complex, there are beautiful gardens.

Inside the temple, one can see three giant statues are centrally located. Raised on a platform, these statues are gold-plated. Buddha which is around sixty-feet tall held prominent place, flanked by Guru Padmasambhava and Amitayush statues each around 58 feet tall. Among the giant statues, Buddha and Amitayus look down. Accompanying these statues are two thrones one of which had a framed photograph of Dalai Lama. The altar is decorated with flowers, candles and incense sticks.

The walls and ceilings has richly painted murals depicting gods and demons from Tibetan Buddhist mythology. Dragons twirled up the walls on two sides of the platform. Beautiful gongs duly protected within padlocked chains stood in a corner. Incense burners were seen here and there and a breathtaking sole donation box.

In late evenings one can see and hear the chanting of prayers, debates that take place between the monks. But the best time to experience is during the first prayer of the day.

The monastery hosts several ceremonies yearly. The famous among them is Tibetan New Year (Losar). It is celebrated in February or early March over a period of fifteen days. During that time, the monastery hosts traditional colourful lama dances and huge thangkas, a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery depicts Buddhist deity.

Photography is allowed inside the temple but video is strictly prohibited.

There are several shops around the temple area that sell Tibetan jewellery, handicrafts, Tibetan shawls, prayer wheels, incense and souvenirs.