Bylakuppe, a slice of Tibet

A home away from home. Can it be? Any substitute would not be the same, I would think. But for hundreds of Tibetans, who left their home land to seek refuge away from their homeland, Bylakuppe <bi-la-kuppey>, 1000s of miles from home, would have to do. It has been home to monks and locals who arrived in this part of Karnataka, near Coorg (Kodagu) and were given land by the government to setlle down and make their own living.

Kushalnagar is the name that is often looked up while searching for this slice of Tibet in down south India, but it is only the nearest town to Bylakuppe.┬áSo if you are headed out to Coorg (and visit Bylakuppe en route) or if you want to spend a weekend or more just walking around monasteries, temples, fields and Tibetan shopping – go Bylakuppe. (It is 226 kms from Bangalore).

We visited on the way back to Bangalore from Coorg, and nothing quite prepared us for the sight of the Golden Temple and monastery. It quite took our breath away and we were transported to Tibet.

Kushalnagar 1

The architecture kept our eyes up and raised – to appreciate the beauty reaching towards the skies.

Kushalnagar 2

As we got closer, we slowed down and wished we had planned for more time here. The atmosphere is serene.

Kushalnagar 3

The most fascinating walls and paintings…

Kushalnagar 4

Kushalnagar window

This window was my most favourite part of the temple.

Kushalnagar 6

The huge statues do not seem over the top, the entire atmosphere inside is that of peace.

Kushalnagar 7

Kushalnagar 8

The closer one gets to the walls, the longer one wants to stay and observe.

Kushalnagar 9

Surrounding the monasteries and temples, are numerous stores selling Tibetan art and crafts, from Buddhas to incense to shawls. If you have the time to go through half a dozen stores, you are sure to find some beautiful sculptures and keepsakes. There are restaurants serving up Tibetan food and small vendors vending pretty much everything.

Leaving Bylakuppe, as we turned our backs to the life that the monks have built over 30 odd years, taking in the sights along the road that leads to the highway back to Bangalore is like a rude awakening. It is not Tibet after all…


The Anantha Padmanabha palace, Kerala

The ‘God’s own country’ tag can never become a cliche, not with Kerala. Every scene from this state and every tourism ad leaves you gasping. I’ve visited only once and it’s on my wish list ALL the time to go visit again. Apart from the sun and the sand and the simply beautiful countryside, Kerala’s architecture is worth a pause. It is now a statement. It finds itself replicated in eco resorts, in vacation homes, in the highest of fashionable buildings that are trying to reach back into the past for that something we call ‘roots’. But here’s where it all came from… the architecture of kings.

The Anantha Padmanabha temple is much more popular than the palace of the same name, located about an hour’s drive from Trivandrum. The temple hogs the religious visitors while the palace sees only a few tourists who are keen on seeing the architecture without the clamour of religion.

These pictures are from our visit in 2006. each time I revisit the album, the beauty and majesty sweeps me away, all over again.

Anantha Padmanabha Palace extIt looks innocuous on the outside.. Such a pleasure to walk through the palace, all quiet. Takes you back to another era…

AP palace exteriorAll in wood…

APpalace_door-2Door handle detail

Outside templeA room with a view..another temple outside the palace

AP  palace roofEntry way detail

AP palace courtyardCourtyard seen from the first floor

CorridorCool corridors with the light streaming in in streaks. Can almost hear the patter of bare feet.