Buddhist temples are found in different pockets of India. Many of them are internationally popular and many others are lesser-known. All the Tibetan temples all over become lively and full of activities on Buddha Purnima. In the South Indian state of Karnataka, the Tibetan Golden Temple situated in Bylakuppe is popular. Bylakuppe is a small and beautiful town situated near Coorg and is a well-known Tibetan settlement.
Buddha Purnima is a special day for Buddhists as it marks the birth, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha. Being an important day in Buddhism, the devotees visit Buddhist temples like the Tibetan golden temple in Karnataka. They pray and pay homage to the Lord Buddha.
The followers celebrate the day in different ways. By praying, giving alms, listening to the talks of Buddhist monks, setting free caged animals and birds, they commemorate the day. The Tibetan golden temple in Bylakuppe, Karnataka also organizes special prayers and functions on this day.
Buddhism in Karnataka
Even from as early as the 3rd century Buddhism is prevalent in parts of Karnataka. The State of Karnataka is home to several Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan settlements. During the political turmoil in Tibet in the 1950s, hundreds of Tibetan residents were displaced. Indian government accepted a large number of them back then. Karnataka was chosen as one haven for them. Many Tibetan refugees and Buddhist Monks are settled in a different part of Karnataka since then.
The Namdroling Monastery or ‘The Golden Temple, as it is commonly known was thus established back then. And the Tibetan Golden Temple in Kushalnagar became the centre of faith and formation of followers of Buddhism in South India. Today, thousands of Tibetan expatriates and Buddhist monks are seen all over Kushalnagar.
Background of Tibetan Golden Temple, Bylakuppe
The monastery was established in 1963, by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche. Namdroling Monastery got the name ‘The Golden Temple’ owing to the golden colour paintings all over. The full name of the Namdroling Monastery is Thegchog Namdrol Shedrub Dargyeling. The Tibetan Golden Temple in Bylakuppe, Kushalnagar is the most prominent Buddhist temple in South India. It is said to be the largest teaching centre of Nyingmapa which is a major lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. And it is modelled after the Sera University of Tibet.
It is fascinating to note that after Dharamshala, Bylakuppe in Kushalnagar is the next largest Tibetan settlement in the world outside Tibet. The interesting fact sheds light on the importance of The Golden Temple in Bylakuppe. Thus, not just for Buddhist followers but for everyone who is visiting the Temple, it is a remarkable experience.
The Tibetan Golden Temple Complex
As you enter the humble yet vibrant premises of the temple, you are certain to feel the serenity surrounding the area. Bylakuppe being a bustling small town, the peaceful atmosphere in the temple complex is sure a welcome change.
Through the arch styled entrance, you can walk in. The shopping complex flecked with several small shops on either side selling Tibetan products. You have a wide collection of traditional items like statues, carpets, costumes, religious articles, and pieces of jewellery, etc. to choose from here.
Walking ahead on the specified footpath after the shopping complex arena you reach the temple. Upon entering you will be immediately enchanted by the colourful paintings etched on the walls. Paintings depicting the characters of Tibetan Buddhist mythology are brilliantly represented.
In the main prayer hall three golden tinted statues of saints Padmasambhava, Sukhayami and Amitayus, are seen. The Sacrosanctum is adorned with flowers, candles and incense sticks. It is a beautiful sight to see. Although you may not be allowed to enter this area.
Monks will be seen chanting prayers in the prayer hall all the time. Large-sized Tibetan prayer wheel and their traditional bell also can be seen on the premises. Tibetan craftsmanship and artistic tastes are evident all over.
Behind the temple you can find the private space of inmates. Entry is restricted to this area for the public.
- Entry is free of charge.
- Photography is allowed inside the complex and even inside the temple.
- Do maintain the decorum and silence once inside.
- You can light the lamp or offer incense sticks while praying or seeking blessings.
- Charges for parking
Best Time to Visit
Buddha Purnima and Buddhist festival times are the best time to visit the temple. It is a wonderful opportunity to witness traditional Lama dances, music and celebrations.
However, given the times now, the temple complex remains closed for public. And the celebrations and other activities are meant for inmates only.
Nevertheless, a visit to Kushalnagar and the Coorg region in Karnataka during winter provides an enthralling experience. Kushalnagar’s name translates as “town of gladness.” Now you see, the place has a lot to offer.
A note of thanks to my friend @ facebook.com/thomas.vk3 for providing the photos and details.
How to reach
By road – Travelling by road to the spot is your best option. The city is easily reached by private vehicles or by public buses. By air – Mysore, Mangalore, and Bangalore are the nearest airports. That is approximately two hours, 3 hours, and 5 hours’ drive, respectively. By train – Nearest railway stations are situated at Krishna Rajnagar and Hole Narsipur. That is around 50 KM away from the town.
A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers