Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Namdroling, welcome home to Golden Buddha Monastery

The credit for converting 1000 acres of barren land donated by Karnataka Government to Golden Temple area goes to His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinponche. He arrived in India with only Rs 300/- in his pocket from Tibet and laid a foundation for Namdroling Golden temple in 1988.

We used to visit frequently the tibetian refugee camp on business trip selling bubble gums which was favourite of the tibetians monks in 1980’s. The small shack owners were so innocent, they did not know how much currency to be given for their purchase. We used to supply stocks and had to literally help them to count the Indian currency and give them the change.

In turn we used to have Momos, beef momo is their favourite receipe along with noodles and fried rice. In those times we used to get chicken momo too. Nowerdays apart from beef momos one does not find other non-veg momos or even veg momos. One can get veg fried rice and noodles along with egg fried rice. Beef is common dish among the tibetian cuisine.

Once on our trip we found there was a small joint selling toddy, that too fresh toddy and we really enjoyed the same. If one looks around maybe one can find the same joint if one looks around.

Now coming back to the monastery, Namdroling was dedicated to the world by his highness Dalai Lama in 1999. The monastery contains huge golden statue of Buddha and his famous disciples. This monastery takes us back in times to ajanta in all its pristine glory with mural paintings. The fabled dragons are embedded on the pillars on both side of Buddha. The fresco paintings are all linked to characters of Buddha or some other diety, tibetian cosmology, astrology or medicine. The painting style is known as Thangka Paintings, which was slowly getting into endangered bracket after the occupation of Chinese. Some of the details are covered with pure gold, which stands out in all its richness.

There are 3 other monasteries added to the main monasteries and one practice hall for the monks to practice their chanting and prayers. The deep blood red or maroon robe worn by the 5000 odd monks stands in stark contrast and matches their mongoloid features. Some of the monks speak hindi, kannada and to a little extent English. The landscaping around the monastery is world class, filled with ducks, small ponds, palm trees and well manicured grass courts.

When we reached the monastery a massive preparation was underway for a winter festivity called Ghorpa. All the monks were busy preparing elaborate ceremony for a ten day festivity with chanting and music. The entire temple premise was cordoned off for the visitors. Otherwise one can go close to the main Buddha statues and witness the grandeur of the golden statues. It was the first time we witnessed his holiness moving around with BMW in all his humility at a slow speed. This was such a close encounter with of a different kind. I could not really click my camera, literally carried away by transcendental feeling of his holiness.
There is a huge shopping complex just opposite for the visitors to purchase various tibetian artifacts along with a small accommodation place, which is primarily reserved for the guests. There is no guarantee of booking furnished, according to the directives. Foreigners are required to apply for P.A.P ( protected area permit ) and apply for permit well in advance to the following personnel :

Mr. K. B. Singh
Government of India
Ministry of Home Affairs
Rehabilitation Wing
Jaisalmer House, Mansingh Rd.
New Delhi , INDIA

Send copies as follows:
Send original PAP form, 4 photos, 3 photocopies of the form, 4 copies of the photo page of the passport

It was really heartening to note that in a span of 2 decades Tibetian refugee camp has been converted from a rustic village into a paradise housing the golden statue of Buddha. It has become a heritage centre for Buddhists who in all their humility live in harmony. The ordinary beings are busy with carpet making, incense sticks, sweaters, pasta, breeding buffalo, selling momos, etc. In case one wants to buy pasta,it is better to buy from their co-operative super stone at Camp I where prices are fixed, private traders almost charge double. One can have a taste of Tibet, if one just visits Byalkuppa.

LOCATION : From Bangalore it is 190 kms via srirangapatna, via Mysore it will be 215 kms. One can visit it on the return from Mangalore. It is 180 kms via Madikere. From Hassan it around 90 kms via Ramnathpura. There is no entry fee to visit, except parking fee and shoe keeping charges.

Buddham sarnam Gachami.


maverick58 said...

I have marked this as a Must-See on my list...thanks for putting it up!!

cvsmuthy said...

Have visited this place. A nice and peaceful place but approach from Highway appears to be too long.

magiceye said...

it is indeed a lovely place!
liked your post... very informative

Arti said...

Looks a beautiful place to visit!

Harish said...

looks great...


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Basically i am down to earth, take friendship to its logical end. It is my endeavour to create a wealth of co-operative ventures. Basically being a marketing man i have the acumen to spot winners. I am privileged to travel the length and breadth of the country, courtsey my father, who was with Indianoil, my employers such as Nutrine, Kurl-on, Hindustan Pencils, Prestige, Crystal, Bell Ceramics, Pentel, Sezal, Commander. Currently i am involved in Tourism, Booking Air Tickets, Agent for Jungle Lodges and Resorts Limited and Taj Group of Hotels and a numerous hotels across India. Depending on the needs of a traveller i would recommend the destination and accommodation best suited to their budget. Humour takes me on. Let us have a win win situation for all. I love travelling for sake of adventure, photography and discovering the heritage. Life is a journey and let us enjoy our drive. Come share your travel experience on indiabackpacker.