10 October 2008

From My Travel Diary : Little Tibet - Bylakuppe, Karnataka

In a moment of sudden inspiration, I finally decide to sit down and WRITE. Its amazing how a place , so swamped by in-considerate tourists, could still smell so pure and make u WANT to believe in a better life ahead. The air (like I kept repeating to my friends after the trip) was simply… delicious. I devoured, without shame, every ounce of the gift of purity that the village had to offer. The receptionist at the Guest House shyly said, “Welcome to Bylakuppe” …. "There was something ethereal about the morning light that filtered into the temples" To begin with, Bylakuppe was nothing that I imagined it to be from the umpteen number of pictures I had seen of the place. Or may be, i just happened to be there at the wrong time.I found the place thronging with tourists of all races and colours. Ok. Who am I kidding now! Let me be honest here. The place was literally bursting with the ubiquitous ‘Malayalee’ populace. But not even the shrieking teens who just unloaded from what looked like a ghost of a Tata Sumo could put me off. I was determined to enjoy my weekend at Bylakuppe. It took around 7 hrs (was stuck in the traffic for 2 hrs in Bangalore) by ‘Rajahamsa’ (KSRTC air bus) to reach Kushal Nagar – the nearest town to Bylakuppe. A Rs.30/- auto ride will take u to Bylakuppe. My best bet for accommodation was at the Paljor Dhargey Ling Guest House in front of the Golden Temple (Namdroling Monastry). Info regarding reservations etc can be found at www.palyul.org. As promised by some of my friends, I found the room affordable, inviting and impeccably clean My room at the Guest House The Golden Temple itself was majestic. The 60 feet tall gold-plated statues of Buddha and the incredible wall paintings were mesmerizing to say the least. In all the 22 yrs of my life, I don’t think I ve ever felt so overwhelmed and at peace with myself at the same time. There was something ethereal about the morning light that filtered into the temples…something that asked me to look beyond what I saw… to seek beyond what I found. The constant swaying (of heads) of the monks in prayer, the soft, but powerful drone of chants, all seemed to say something. If only I could listen… "…something that asked me to look beyond what I saw… to seek beyond what I found..." With the little hill dotted with beautiful temples, long winding roads fenced by golden corn fields on both sides and the country side sprinkled by the bright reds of the walking buddhas, I was more than delighted to get ‘lost’ in my strolls. In one such expedition, i stumbled upon an artist called Nymgyal Jimpa. He has been making traditional Tibetan 'thangkas' for 15yrs, he told me. I clicked some pictures while he leant back to work. Sure, I found monks watching television, listening to i-pods, riding bikes, and waiting at restaurants for their chicken biriyanis. Tens-zing, the pretty girl from the gift shop advised me on the subject, “The monks from Namdroling are allowed to eat meat. But the Sermey Monastery is very strict. The monks will get a fine of Rs.500 and a sound beating if their ‘monitor’ catches them eating chicken.” “ But some of them still manage without getting caught! ” she told me rolling her eyes. As I watched a little monk run around, playing with his friend, I thought, “Who am I to judge a life devoted to a truth beyond my understanding....” A monk on his way to town Lady at the 'Kongpo' restaurant Waiting for their meals - @ the Kongpo Restaurant Hmmm.. amidst all this blogging and painful uploads, i stumble upon Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan 's (blogger-turned- writer) blog. The compulsive Confessor. A peek into her blog, and i let my head hang in shame. I realised that what i liked best abt her posts were their 'straight-forwardness'. Nothing hanky-panky or melodramatic abt it. "As I watched a little monk run around, playing with his friend, I thought, “Who am I to judge a life devoted to a truth beyond my understanding....” " !!!!!????? The!!! What was i even thinking. All right . Im NOT gonna erase that one. Let it be a testimony to my wanna-be-intellectual-turned-philosopher self. Sigh!! So here goes. A few more facts and figures (or no figures) about our little Bylakuppe. Apparently, our dear old Karnataka Government had dished out 500 acres of land to the Tibetan Refugees during the time of the Chineese invasion. Bylakuppe was established in 1957 and its present area is 15,000 acres (or so, my friend says). I for one, didnt think they looked in the least like refugees ( hungry miserable folks packed together in tiny tent = the picture of refugees in my mind). On the contrary, they looked like a bunch of happy, polite, hard working people. To say the least, even the stray dogs hovering around food-joints were incredibly well-behaved. And thus my invisible readers (if any :) , i decide to end my jargon quite unceremoniously. But do scroll down to the end, for i did put some effort into both shooting these pictures as well as in uploading it to the blog with an infinitely slow internet connection. The good old friendly Lama The old cronies of the village would hang out outside the Prayer Wheels in the First Camp. I had no idea what they were talking about , but i could see that they were very anxious to guide my way through the prayer wheels. She lived within the great walls of the Golden Temple. Was happy to pose for me and seemed happier when i showed her the images on my LCD. I was not quite sure whether she could clearly see the image, but i felt ecstatic when she raised her hand in a gesture to bless. " To say the least, even the stray dogs hovering around food-joints were incredibly well-behaved. " Sermey Temple

18 comments:

  1. Bylakuppe was wstablished in 1957, officially, with 500 acres. Its present state is 15,000 acres. :-)

    I miss the place

    ReplyDelete
  2. ha ha ha!! i cant believe u actually read thru that much of crap!! but thanks for the info dude ( i ve made the correction).

    and hey, i really miss the place too :(

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice stuff, Keep up the good work. Old memories revived.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Are you still a photography blogger? They make me envy. Could you please be kind enough to ward my curiosity off - what's the cam you have used?

    Well, we are planning this long weekend off to Bylekuppa completely - any tips? We are looking for village strolls, hang-outs by tree-shades and off beat trails to Cauvery. Fyi, we have already been to Namdroling on day-trippers.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jyothi,

    you have really enjoyed your stay at bylakuppe.. And if you want to learn or hear or understand their main teachings.. I think Golden temple has weekend class in English at Bangalore @ St Marks Road. So keep you updated philosophically..
    you can visit www.dharmasubhashita.org..

    ReplyDelete
  6. Trust me, I didn't see the Namdroling Monastry so beautifully even when I was there in person. Count me as a huge fan of your photography...

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Sudheendhar


    Yes. Im a still photographer and a blogger. I use a Canon 350D. Unfortunately, im not an expert on Bylakuppe. The post u see on my blog was my first experience of the place. But i loved the Namdroling guest house and its monastries. Hope you had fun during your weekend trip...

    @ Anonymous

    Thanks for your tip!

    @Ganesh
    You give me too much credit :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi

    May I know how have you managed to get that light in the picture where the monk was stepping out of the door, without catching any details outside the door? Is it long exposure ?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hello Uday,

    Thanks for dropping by...You are right. It's a slightly longer exposure than the accurate one. There is an option for increasing the exposure by 2- 3 stops in DSLR cameras. So thats what i did to get the effect.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Quiet an interesting piece that you have written out here…..You have a very good sense of composition in all your stills. Great work behind the lens!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Informative & well written..
    Will try that long exposure stuff..

    ReplyDelete
  12. I looked at your pictures before leaving to India and now i am back in states n looking at your pictures. I met that nun, everybody gives money for her to make butter lamp.. I loved it there, especially the atmosphere. thxx for your great picture and is your camera SLR or regular digital camera

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello,I enjoyed your blog.I'm living in Bangalore.Please tell me name of Guest house you stayed.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Its nice to read fresh perspectives on a small town im keen to visit soon :) THANKS!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Great blog, energy and pictures!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This post made me visit the place 3 years back, and 3 times since. It also made me forgo a good deal for a DSLR! As I read this blog now in retrospect, I cant stop myself gently smiling at the fact that this renowned photographer who features on Magazines like Outlook Traveller, used to write to such detail then!

    We shall keep following you! I miss you here, especially, when I need a good rejuvenating break at my office desk!

    ReplyDelete
  17. http://southexplore.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete