The streets of Bylakuppe is said to have two facets. The day and night gives the place two different attires. The very normal sight of a South Indian street- Streets with shops on either sides, houses within compound walls, junctions with large shady trees, vagrant cows etc. – makes the place during nights. The place wakes up from sleep as a surprising land with some other culture, language, rituals which is absolutely a variant face. Dawn turns Bylakuppe into a small ‘Tibetan’ town.
Bylakuppe, also known as the ‘Indian Tibet’ is located in the Mysore district of Karnataka state. It also shares the Eastern borders of Coorg. It is a dusty place with a fairly pleasant climate.
Near to half century back, a group of Buddhist monks, under the leadership and guidance of His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche came to this land with the blessings of His Holiness Dalailama from Tibet. With the support and permission of Indian Government, they settled down at the place. In 1963 Pema Norbu Rinpoche gave shape to this monastery for teaching and practicing Buddhist beliefs. He had just a sum of ₹ 300 in his hand when he landed. In the beginning, it was the time of struggles for food, accommodation and studies for his disciples. He visited several countries inorder to learn the architecture behind the Buddhist temples and after long, he constructed a monastery at this place. Today it has grown to its present glory and is been recognized as the world’s biggest Buddhist school.
The facade of the Ashram is always crowded prior to sunrise. Monks with trimmed heads are seen draped in maroon and yellow gown. The entrance door opens once the gong is rang. The door opens to a wide open courtyard. Adjacent to it is a three storeyed building in which the monks stay. The courtyard leads to a magnificent golden temple, The Padma Buddhist Vihara. The temple has three giant doors of 12 ft each. The doors painted in red, have two golden colored mien attached to it.
You feel chillness the moment you step into the temple bare foot! The beauty of the interior is a treat to the eyes. The temple is a large hall raised on several huge pillars having three effigies of Buddha. The walls are decorated with ornamental chandeliers and festoons of bright yellow, red, blue, green and white colors. Behind the effigies stand the painted figures of all holy mythological characters of Tibetan Buddhists. The effigies are Budhakaashaya in the middle of 60ft, on left is Guru Padmasambhava and right is Buddha Amithayuss, 58ft tall. Guru Padmasambhava otherwise known as Guru Rinpoche was in Tibet for a long time and is believed that he had spiritual super power and incantation power. Guru Amithayuss was another preceptor who is believed to have had the powers to prolong life.
Beside the Padmasambhava Vihara is another small temple. The deity of the temple is Lord Buddha. The small multicolored lights with which the temple is decorated is winsome. A photo of His Holiness Dalai Lama holds the place before the deity of Buddha. Monks chanting their prayers referring books placed in front of them fill our hearts with eternal spirituality. Huge musical instruments are arranged behind the monks and on the other side we can see horns of different sizes. In between the hours long prayers these are played in high volume creating a musical cocktail. Tourists are not permitted inside.
Adjacent to the temple is a room where hundreds of lamps are lit during the evening offerings. There is another Vihara where His Holiness Dalailama’s picture is placed which is only opened at the festival season. Next to it is a schoolhouse. Here studies, debates and prayers are done on various subjects like perfection, emptiness, logics etc.
Outside the premise wall, adjacent to the main entrance is a small pathway in which there are 1300 small prayer wheels and 19 big prayer wheels. They consist of hundred crores of Mantras in it. It is believed that if one rotates it prayerfully he/she would be blessed with healthy and fortune.
The pathway leads to an area where 16 Stupas painted in silver colour stands in a row heading towards sky. These Stupas would fill your soul with positive thoughts and peace. A little away is another giant Stupa. It is beautifully decorated with flowers and well lit. It is here His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche is laying for his eternal sleep.
To this heaven of silence, prayers and rituals, you must plan a trip once in life. I assure you, your heart will be cleansed by the time you say good bye to the place.