Destinations Bylakuppe Travel Guide: Discover This Quaint Tibetan Settlement In The Hills Of Karnataka

Bylakuppe Travel Guide: Discover This Quaint Tibetan Settlement In The Hills Of Karnataka

Stunning monasteries, delicious food, and pretty streets, there’s a certain charm to Bylakuppe that this travel guide perfectly captures.


By Eshita Srinivas Published on May 17, 2022, 12:00 PM

Bylakuppe Travel Guide: Discover This Quaint Tibetan Settlement In The Hills Of Karnataka

With stunning monasteries, delicious food, and picturesque streets, there’s a certain charm to Karnataka’s Little Tibet that draws several tourists to its borders throughout the year. If you’ve yet to discover the magic of Bylakuppe, we’ve got the perfect travel guide for you. By Eshita Srinivas

A quick gear switch and slight detour on the Mysore-Coorg highway will have you driving straight into a region dotted with colourful prayer flags and Buddhist murals. This quaint town, called Bylakuppe, is the second-largest Tibetan settlement in the country (after Dharamshala) and is frequented by wanderers seeking a change of pace from the hustle of city life.

Home to several monasteries and temples, the spot is small enough to get acquainted with over a weekend and alluring enough to spend hours exploring. The signages, little shops, and rolling hills will also bring out your inner photographer. This travel guide takes you through what Bylakuppe has to offer. All you need to do is get your overnight bags out and fire up your traveller spirit.

A travel guide to Bylakuppe, Karnataka’s Little Tibet

Places to visit

The town is divided into Old Camp and New Camp, each with clusters that are about 5 kilometres apart with fields in between. The monasteries here are divided between these and represent four Buddhist traditions, namely Gelukpa, Nyingma, Sakya, and Kagydpa. Most monasteries stay open until 5:00 pm, and the shops shut down by 7:00 pm. For stunning, panoramic views of the town, visit the Kagyudpa Nalanda Institute.

Namdroling Monastery

Also known as the Golden Temple, Namdroling was built in 1963 and houses over 5,000 monks and nuns who live, study, and engage in religious practices here. Perched in the Western Ghats, it’s the crowning glory of Bylakuppe and is distinguished by red and golden detailing, large chakra, and landscaped gardens that meet paddy fields.

Inside are statues of the Buddha Amitayus, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Buddha Padmasambhava. Amitayus represents longevity, while Padmasambhava is known to have propagated Buddhism in Tibet and Bhutan. There are also murals on the walls and pillars. The complex also houses a junior high school, college, teaching centre, and hospital. You could light incense sticks and turn the prayer wheel in a clockwise direction while here. The latter contains consecrated mantras, and turning the wheel is believed to be akin to reciting them.

Tashi Lhunpo Monastery

This monastery was first founded by the first Dalai Lama in 1447 in the U-Tsang province of Tibet and grew to be one of the most important religious establishments in the country. Following the Tibetan migration to India, the monastery was re-established in India from scratch in 1972 and now houses over 413 monks. It’s also just about four kilometres from Namdroling on the Kushalnagar road. It’s important to note that the approach road can be bumpy but the destination is worth the effort. There’s a science centre as well as Buddhist paintings and murals here and visitors are often found conversing with monks to better understand the religion. The usually quaint monastery also lights up during Losar, the Tibetan new year with colourful ceremonies and masked dances.

Sera Monasteries


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Sera jey and Sera mey monasteries are located just about three kilometres from Namdroling and are underrated spots often left out of Bylakuppe itineraries. Like the other monasteries in the region, you could spin the prayer wheels, learn about Buddhism, and explore the unique architecture here. You might find monks engaging in debates on several different topics while here. Like Tashi Lhunpo, the monasteries were re-established in Bylakuppe by exiled monks, with the help of the Indian government.

Where to shop


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Although shopping might not be the first thing on a typical Bylakuppe itinerary, there are plenty of spots to buy souvenirs like traditional jewellery, handheld prayer wheels, quirky T-shirts, and Tibetan handicrafts. Most locals recommend the Tibetan Shopping Centre right in front of the Golden Temple. Bargaining is often not encouraged and the prices are quite reasonable across the board.

You could also explore the shopping centre right outside the Sakya monastery, which houses shops that sell everything from tea kettles and singing bowls to woollens and handicrafts. The only way to get around is by auto rickshaws.

Where to eat


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A visit to this town isn’t complete without sampling authentic Tibetan fare. The most popular of these are the Potala Kitchen and Cafe and Taste of Tibet in Camp 1. While at these spots, try the beef momos, lemon tea, and thukpa. In Camp 2, The Tibet Kitchen Family Restaurant and Cafe is quite popular for its chicken, tingmo, chopsuey, thukpa, and momos.

In addition to these, a recommended spot to eat is the Kongpo Kitchen Family Restaurant, which has an extensive menu of Tibetan delicacies that are a must-try. Pop by nondescript eateries around town in the morning for balep, eggs, and tea laden with Amul butter. Reportedly, dinner time here is around 6:00 pm and on Wednesdays only vegetarian food is served at restaurants. You could check with any of the above-listed monasteries for rung ghang, the free community meals.

Where to stay


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Most large monasteries in Bylakuppe have guesthouses that come with clean rooms, occasional hot water, and basic meals. Of these the Sakya guest house has some of the most stunning views of the hills and is conveniently located. There’s also the Sera Jey Guest House and the Paljor Dhargey Guest House which are affordable and neat. There are no televisions provided and the only way to go about town is to hire an autorickshaw.

For more luxurious guesthouses and hotels, you’d need to go at least 10 kilometres away from Bykaluppe. It’s important to note that while Indians do not need permits, foreigners require a Protected Area Permit (PAP) that they’d need to apply for at least 5 months in advance to stay overnight in Bylakuppe.

How to get there


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Bylakuppe is a 5 hour, 240-kilometre drive away from Bengaluru and about 1.5 hours, 85-kilometre drive from Mysore. KSRTC and other travel company buses ply to the nearest town, Kushalnagar, quite often from where one can hire an auto to Bylakuppe.

Featured and hero image: @visualsofsrijan/Instagram

Related: Here’s Why You Should Go For The Waichin Valley Trek In Himachal Pradesh

Written By

Eshita Srinivas

Eshita Srinivas

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