Friday, November 20, 2009

South Tibet.. I Mean India - Bylakuppe, Karnataka

In 1959 when China first marched into Tibet, thousands of Tibetan refugees settled in Bylakuppe where the Indian government gifted them 1200 hectares of land. This was the first of many Tibetan settlements in India. Since then three monasteries, schools, nunneries, and one of the largest Buddhist universities, Sera Monastic University have been built. To stay in Bylakuppe you need to obtain a permit from Delhi. We however managed to find a guest house near Sera Jey Monastery that was willing to bypass that formality.

The first night we arrived to Bylakuppe we went out for a bite to eat and happened upon Sera Jey Monastery where we were fortunate enough to witness evening prayers. 400 Buddhist monks chanting in unison in an open air hall penetrating the night air. We all listen and watched for the next 45 minutes without a word being said. The next day wondering around I unexpectedly found myself swimming upstream as hundreds of yellow and maroon clad monks exited a monastery. Can you drown in cotton? On our final day we managed to stumble upon 12 or so groups of 30 monks debating. This is done by yelling, pushing and slapping one hand on top of the other with force. It looked so bizarre, like dancing monks.

One of the highlights of this town has to be the awe-inspiring Golden Temple. As soon as you step inside your eyes are immediately draw to the three gargantuan golden Buddha statues that dominate the room. Once your astonishment has finally passed you will find immense colorful paintings depicting gods and demons from Buddhist mythology, piercing red columns with bright dragons and flowers carved into them and candles and incense burning at the alters. I felt very humbled next to these colossal Buddhas, but I guess that's the point.

Once again we have managed to find a place that feels out of India. With hardly any Indians, monks everywhere, and a town that is the cleanest Ive seen here, it really is a piece of pre-occupied Tibet in South India. I only wish I had more time to get to know the people.

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible."
Dalai Lama

1 comment:

  1. Adrian...Adrian...come in, where are you?!