Namdroling Monastery: Golden Temple of Mysuru

Second largest Tibetan settlement in India


January 22, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Namdroling Monastery: Golden Temple of Mysuru

Namdroling monastery is popularly known as the Golden temple (Photo: Aachen Tenzin)

Bylakuppe near Coorg is a small, yet beautiful town nestled in the Western Ghats in Karnataka. After Dharamshala, home to the Dalai Lama, Bylakuppe is the second largest Tibetan settlement in the world outside Tibet. Its numerous monasteries and temples of all Tibetan Buddhist traditions attract large number of tourists from all over India.

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Namdroling Monastery, popularly known as “The Golden Temple”, is situated in the lesser-known Tibetan town of Bylakuppe. It is home to about 16,000 refugees and 600 monks and it is also the centre of Tibetan Buddhism in South India. There are over 37,000 Tibetans living in exile since many decades in five settlements across Karnataka. Located in a scenic environment, initially the Namdroling Monastery was a tiny one of barely 8 sqm made of bamboo from the forest which was donated by the Indian Government to the Tibetan exiles.

The entrance to the monastery (Photo: Aachen Tenzin)

Over the years, it was properly constructed and now the main entrance of the temple is a scintillating place with an attractive four-storey tower with wheels portraying symbols of Buddhism. The major attractions inside the temple is the 12 m tall statue of Lord Buddha, with statues of Lord Amitavus and Lord Padmasambhava on either sides. The statues have been made with semi-precious stones and are placed on high platforms. “The major attraction of Bylakuppe is due to the fact it is home to the second largest Tibetan settlement and the monastery. While entering inside the monastery, we can just feel the positive vibe around the monastery and the chants also gives a kind of fresh energy,” Shekhar from Bangaluru, a traveller and a product manager with a private firm, tells Media India Group. Visitors can meditate, pray, give their offerings and can also rotate the prayer wheels.

One of the important parts of any Buddhist temple is the prayer wheel. At the Namdroling Monastery, there are around 1,300 small prayer wheels and 19 large ones. Turning the wheels is a way to pray in a Buddhist temple and it contains millions of prayer scrolls. Turning the wheels in a clockwise direction while chanting Dharnis or Buddhist prayers is considered to be more effective. It is common to see monks turning these wheels of prayer in the monastery.

Inside the monastery is a 12 m tall Buddha statue

“To have a calm and a wonderful vacation, people visit Coorg and as Bylakuppe is very close to Coorg, many people come here to have a glimpse of our monastery and to have a look at our Tibetan settlement. Lots of people and tourists come to Namdroling Monastery to have a peaceful, undisturbed vacation,” Aachen Tenzin, teacher and spiritual speaker who has been staying at the Namdroling Monastery for over two decades tells Media India Group.

Over the decades, the Tibetan diaspora here has flourished and nurtured beautiful calmness in the entire town, which depicts an entirely different art form and design. The temple got its name as Golden Temple owing to the golden paintings crafted on the monastery. This monastery or Golden Temple was established in 1963. The inside of the monastery is well decorated with Tibetan art, depicting Tibetan Buddhism mythology.

The walls inside the temple are beautified with murals depicting Tibetan Buddhist mythology (Photo: Shekhar)

Vibrantly painted murals all over walls, thickly coloured in deep reds outside and inside the temple, adorned by bright golden along with brush like tassels and traditional ropes hanging around adds beauty to the monastery. The entire vibe of the monastery is completely traditional and religious with mythological demons and Buddhist painting on the walls. Namdroling Monastery is also the largest preaching centre of the Nyingma tradition and it is also one of the oldest schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

“In Bylakuppe there are many Buddhist monasteries in a Tibetan traditional and the main attraction of the Namdroling Monastery are the big three statues inside the temple,” says Tenzin.


Festival in Golden Temple

Namdroling Monastery is the centre of attraction in the Tibetan New Year festival

Many ceremonies and festival celebrations are held in the Namdroling Monastery every year amongst which the Tibetan New Year, which usually falls in February/March as per the lunar calendar, is one of the biggest and is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and glory in the town. According to the Tibetan calendar, June is a special month for them to practice for the monks as the enlightenment of Buddha took place on June 15 and the day is known Saga Dawa Dhuechen.

During the festival, a Lama dance also known as Losar Cham is performed by the monks. During the festival, monks in the temple distribute food to the entire town to celebrate their new year. On this day, the Tibetans in Bylakuppe sport their traditional dresses to welcome the new year with enthusiasm.

“During the Lunar New Year, tourists visit Bylakuppe to participate and to watch the traditional cultural performances in our Tibetan style and we have all-day prayers that start right from the morning,” says Tenzin. “We visit our monastery and normal prayers happens in the morning and at evening the traditional way of celebration starts with much glory and zest,” he adds.

In Namdroling Monastery at the northern side of the monastery there is a series of 17 stupas exhibiting and scriptures of Buddhist teachings. The monastery also has many other smaller temples notably the Tara Temple that has 21 idols of deities who represent different forms of the Goddess. “All the monasteries in Bylakuppe are painted in a very colourful way with an amazing architecture. There were a lot of activities inside the teaching centre as well as in other parts of the monastery. There are lots of spiritual books and other traditional items to buy too,” says Shekhar.



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