On the highway from Mysore to Kodagu, in Karnataka, lies the small town of Kushalnagar. If one looks past its boring appearance and ventures into the countryside one comes across the grand monasteries of Bylakuppe. Wandering the narrow lanes of the clusters which house the many monasteries in the town one is treated to the culture, customs and cuisine of Tibet. Young kids run around colourful compact houses with small gardens and sloping roofs even as monks answer the call to prayers and amble towards the many monasteries. The smell of momos, dimsum, thupka and flavoured fried rice rides the wind and teases the senses. The spirit of Tibet lives on in Bylakuppe!
All the monasteries in Bylakuppe are a treasure house of murals and wall-paintings that are worth exploring. The themes are varied – surreal gods and goddesses in silken clothes share the canvas with wrathful ones dressed in animal skins and adorning bone ornaments, tantric Buddhism, deities of the Three Roots, disciples of Guru Rinpoche and throne-holders of the Palyul tradition are some of the notable works of art. The paintings are a remarkable medium of narrating stories and leave the beholder aching for more.