Travel in a day: Bylakuppe – Kushal Nagar – Nisargadhama – Madikeri Fort – Madikeri Raja’s Seat

For the people who wish to escape from hustle and bustle of city life, enjoy a different culture, relax amidst the agricultural farms similar to that of China(Oops! censored word in Kushal Nagar) or other hilly lands as shown on Nat Geo Channel, here is the good news.

 

You can pay a visit to Kushal Nagar- Bylakuppe. realise that the time passes too slowly, a good deal of places to see still with a light wallet.

 

Jump into the details, now!

I, along with my friend, started from Bangalore in an Airavat service – keeping the comfort on mind which is very important when you decide to explore a place on walk. Because, if you feel tiresome after the journey there is no point of enjoying your trip on walk.


If you travel by night, don’t forget to set an alarm basing on your arrival time. All the buses that start from Bangalore head for Madikeri and Kushal Nagar is 30 km before Madikeri. Chances are there to sleep and get down at madikeri. Even notifying the conductor to wake you up might not work. It did not work for us. Fortunately, I kept alarm at 3.15 AM.


Got down at 3:40 AM in Kushal Nagar bus stand and took some rest till 6:30 AM.

A temple opposite to Kushal Nagar Bus Stand

We then started to Nisargadhama on walk and we did not regret our decision. The houses and the misty morning were amazing.

A colourful house along the way
Misty morning(on the way to Nisargadhama)


Nisargadhama is a 60 acre island formed by the river Cauvery. It does not boast of stunning nature but it is a pretty decent and serene place to spend an hour or two.


Visiting hours: 9AM to 5PM

Entry Fee: Rs.10 per head


We went there at 8 AM. The ticketing person allowed us and twenty rupees went into his pocket not to KSTDC.


I must tell you, the amazing combination of the river, bird chirps, mist, sun rays intruding between the bamboo trees, an old hanging bridge(parallel to the new one) were perfect enough to symbolise the perfect morning!


The old bridge welcoming the sun rays!

I heard that there is a deer park and arrangements for an elephant ride in Nisargadhama but I did not find any of them.


 Few more photos in Nisargadhama

 

 


 


I saw a bird in orange colour perching on a tree. This was the first time I haver ever seen such a bird.

 

 

 

 

After wading through the woods and relishing at the waters, we came out to the main road (State highway 88). Luckily an auto driver came there to drop a lady and we hired him to visit all the monasteries in Kushal Nagar – bylakuppe.

The Cauvery river

His name is Tali (Mobile – +91 959 1289 122). He quoted Rs.500 and I agreed to pay Rs.600 provided he should not push me to wind off soon. Well, I am a photographer and need an extra time to explore the places and photograph. I think you can bargain to some extent though I did not.

 

Be careful and have a list of places to see as they (auto drivers) might not show all the places in order to wind off soon.


Auto driver started to narrate stories about the place, pointing to a canal of the river Cauvery over which Karnataka and Tamil Nadu state governments are fighting with each other.

A bridge across the river Cauvery

Gradually, the Indian flavour started to disappear and some other different and new culture started to flourish making me to think if I was in India or some other foreign land.

Colourful flags tied to the trees

Statistics in Bylakuppe goes like this – For every 100 Tibetians you might find  10-15 Indians. 


As auto driver’s narration was about to end we reached famous Namdroling Monastery – Golden temple.  I could hear my stomach yelling for something and it had to be the time for breakfast.


I wanted to taste the Tibetian food. So, we went to the hotel Tibet which is closely located to the main entrance of Golden Temple. The owner greeted us with a smile. We ate soupy noodles served in two large bowls, chapatti made of corn flour (this was pizza thick) and omelette. All these cost Rs.120 to us. Cheaper prices – Is not it? Soupy noodles were amazing.The owner taught me how to use the chop sticks and importantly how to choose the right pair of them when a vessel full of chop sticks is kept in front of you.. 


An interesting mix of things



Chapatti of pizza thickness

 

Then we went inside the Golden temple and the golden statues each more than 50 feet almost made me to feel as if I was in Thailand. I missed to rotate the prayer bells which I realised after coming back to Bangalore.

Inside the Golden Temple (Namdroling Monastery)


 

 

 


 Fortunately, there was a mass prayer going on when we went there. Though visitors are not allowed inside during the mass prayers, it was a pretty good scene to see the Buddhist monks in Maroon and yellow attires, chanting the mantras (chants) in Pali language and playing music with various musical instruments. I shot a video as a child monk was looking at me inquisitively. There were some monks playing badminton in their traditional attires near to the temple and it seemed beautiful. 


On the way out I saw few monks dragging a massive vessel that has hot food for fellow monks. I purchased some souvenirs in a shop which is inside the compound. You can also see tattoo studios outside the monastery compound. We then headed for other places.

 

There is a nunnery on the way to Sera Monasteries but not sure, if they allow visitors inside. I saw nuns playing in a joyous mood as the auto passed the nunnery.

 


Bylakuppe is, by far, the largest Tibetian settlement outside Tibet. It accommodates 15000 tibetians in four camps (Camp1, 2, 3 and 4).

 

Resembling Switzerland!

The way to Sera Monasteries is guarded by the agricultural lands on both sides. One can see the colourful flags tied to each and every tree and house. Mr. Tali, our auto driver, told that they worship plants and tie those to the trees and houses.


People usually stop at Golden temple but the more you go deeper to explore, the more beautiful Bylakuppe turns up with less crowded monasteries, Tibetian settlements and agricultural lands.


We then stopped at Sera Monasteries – Sera Je and Sera me and Sera Institute of Buddhism.






These were very massive than the Namdroling & Golden Temple. You can get an amazing view of agricultural lands from the institiute.


At Sera Je, I got a chance to have a conversation with a monk, Kasa (I guess) who answered all my questions from Buddhism to Chinese atrocities.


You can find a whole big Tibetian Town around Sera Monasteries with all the amenities – Hospitals, Banks, Internet Cafes, and Guest houses.



We then moved to Sakya monastery and then to a fish pond (on the way to Nalanda monastery and at the entrance of Camp 2) which is untouched by the human beings. Fishing is not allowed here and so you can find fish of man-size. A stout and young monk was enjoying his lays and frooti sitting on the bund. 

The fish pond at the entrance of Camp 2

This part of Bylakuppe is surrounded by the large agricultural lands that reminded me of the farms on hilly areas in South Korea as shown in a Nat Geo magazine.


The next stop was Nalanda monastery. This is different of all in terms of location and architecture. This monatery is a huge structure painted in white while all other monasteries are in Maroon. This is located on a small hilly area amidst lush green. We were the only visitors  when we went there.

Nalanda Monastery


 




We were greeted by a child monk. He waited till we reached the main door, bid us with a smile and then got back to play, as his fellow monks were already screaming for him at play.


Be careful of the honey bees. They are omnipresent in all the monasteries. Take out the thorn immediately, if stung by a bee.


We then moved to Tashi Lunpo Monsatery which is the smallest of all. It was closed when we went there. Should you request the monks they feel glad to open the doors for you.

A Sparrow in Tashi Lunpo Monastery

We finally reached Kushal Nagar at 1.30 PM to have Indian dishes for lunch. My friend already abused me for taking him to Tibetian restaurant in the morning. He was not comfortable with Tibetian flavours but I became the fan of Soupy noodles.


We had lots of time to go and the time seemed to have passed slowly till then. It was just 1.30 PM and the fact that our return travel to Bnagalore would start during late night hours made us restless. We started to enquire about the places closer to Kushal Nagar with the server in the hotel. He went to the Cashier’s desk and came back with a visiting card which has the places of attraction and the distance from Kushal Nagar on the rear side.  After all the findings, we considered these options to travel – Dubare Elephant camp, Harangi reservoir and Chikki holey water fall. They seemed to be time consuming with less options for commutation.

 

We finally started to Madikeri at 2.45PM. The way was amazing. 

On the way to Madikeri

Coffee and Tea plantations and resorts greet you all the way. I took a short nap.


We decided to explore as much as possible within the town, once we got down in Madikeri.

Madikeri


We visited the fort and then walked to Raja’s seat where you can get an amazing panoramic view of hills covered with fog. We spent an hour there.


Entry Fee – Rs.5 per head

                                                           Raja’s Seat – Madikeri


We then went to Pause Café which is closely located to the fort. Pizza and Black Coffee were good there.

Pause Caf’e


After purchasing few spices in a local spices shop we roamed around Madikeri under the drizzle.

A general store


A lodge glowing in the night!


We finally called it an end of the trip by boarding a bus to Bangalore at 9PM.


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Note: This trip was made in October, 2012.

Languages Spoken/Understood 

Kannada

Hindi

English

Malayalam

Total Expenses

To and fro Volvo bus ticket charges Rs.750(550-600 on ordinary buses)
Nisargadhama Entry Fee Rs. 10
Hire Auto Charges Rs. 450 – Rs. 600
Break Fast Rs. 60
Footwear stand at Golden Temple Rs. 2
Lunch Rs. 100
To and fro tickets – Madikeri Rs. 70
Raja Seat entry fee Rs. 5
Dinner/Evening Snacks Rs. 100

 

Total Expenses (per head) on lower end – Rs.1347

Total Expenses (per head) on higher end – Rs. 1600

*The more the people the more you can save on auto charges


Time Required

 

  Nisargadhama Golden Temple

 

All Other places

For a Traveller/ Photographer 90 – 120 mins 60-90 mins 150-180 mins
For a normal tourist 30 mins 30-45 mins 90-135 mins


Entire Travel in a glimpse

11:30 PM Airavat starts from Bangalore
3:10 AM Set an alarm. Kushal Nagar is not the last stop. Madikeri is. Chances are definite that you might sleep and go 30 kms ahead to get down in Madiekri and then come back to Kushal Nagar
3:40 AM Get down at Kushal nagar Bus stand and bus leaves for Madikeri
3:45 AM Sit on waiting chairs, lay your head in the lap, have a good grip on your lugagge and sleep
4:30 AM You will not feel sleeping but you have to. Moderate rest keeps you energetic enough to roam around
7:00 AM Start for Nisargadhama Cavery Reserve on walk(2 kms. 20-30 minutes)
8:40 AM Fresh up in Nisargadhama
9:00 AM Hire an auto to roam around in Kushal Nagar(You cannot cover entire places on walk)
9:15 AM Namdroling Monastery- Gloden Temple – Break Fast at The Tibet Hotel
9:45 AM Enter the Golden Temple – Camp 4
10:45 AM Pass by Nunnery in Camp 3
11:00 AM Sera Je Institute of Buddhist studies
11:30 AM Sera Je Monastery in Camp 4
11:45 AM Chat with a local Monk
12:00 PM Sera Me Monastery
12:20 PM Sakhya Monsatery
12:40 PM Fish Pond where you can see man-size fishes
1:00 PM Nalanda Monastery
1:02 PM Get stung by honey bees . Take out the thorn immediately once it stings you
1:25 PM Kushal nagar – Lunch
2:45 PM Start for Madikeri
3:35 PM Madikeri
4:00 PM Raja’s Seat
5:00 PM Fort
6:00 PM Explore Madikeri on walk
7:00 PM Dinner at Pause Café
8:00 PM Second round of exploration
9:30 PM Board the bus to Bangalore

An young monk in the Golden Temple

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