2019 Tenshug and Trip to India: Part Three2
I went to McleodGanj for registration for Teachings given by HH the Dalai Lama from 4,5,6. There were two windows where foreigner can register. You need to fill up a form and show your passport. No need for photo but Rs. 10 must be paid for the services. This security building is next to Hotel Tibet, Mcleod Ganj.
It was Tibetan Democracy Day. There were many public speech and dance performance by small kids and TIPA alike.
I went to eat Pizza at OM restaurant. Believe me, it has the best Pizza in town.
I needed few DamNyan accessories for Chenrezig school in Clement Town, like bridge, pick and wooden tuner knobs. I made few enquires and I met an old school friend of mine. He is a music teacher. He is Mr. Chonden of Home 23. He gave me an address in typical Tibetan style, “ follow the Tipa Road and there you will see Hotel Kalsang; just near about it, there is stone steps that lead downward into a zig zag winding passage.”
There, it was as he described it. It is unbelievable that people still use such drainage as passage. Kunga Tashi lolo Khaw’s factory is tucked away in some back alley. He is the man who makes Tibetan Guitar-DraNyan. If anyone is interested in buying DraNyn, you can contact his mobile number (in India cell phone is called mobile) is: 9418630337 / 9805039452.
It was a rest day for me. Even when you are on holiday, you need a rest day!
Today is first day of the three day teachings by HH the Dalai Lama at Tsuklakhang, Mcleod Ganj. There is no seat reservation, unless you are VIP. However, you can go one day earlier and mark your seat wherever there is an vacant spot- it is just floor or plain ground- with a mat or shawl. It is first come first serve.
Teaching begins at 8:30am. I woke up early at 5am and reached the Temple at 7am. I went upstairs where is the main temple is. I could not find a single spot that is empty. Whole temple, inside and outside, is taken over by those who sought the teachings-Chigyal.
In Buddhism, it is forbidden to teach Dharma unless it is requested.
Teaching was requested by a group of South Asians. There were more than 850 hundreds of them. They take the precedence because they have to serve audience with tea and bread which is a customary.
I had to park myself near a corner. Everything went well until near the end of the teaching, which is around 10am, security personals asked me to leave the spot as they had to bring HH the Dalai Lama’s car here at the temple to take him back to his residence. This was a complete new thing. HH the Dalai Lama usually walks to and fro from the Temple. Now, he is 84 and his age is limiting his movement.
I walked down to Gangkyi along with rest of the crowd.
Since from morning till 1:30pm it was sunshine and now it is raining cats and dogs.
Today’s teaching was composed by Nagarjuna, an Indian Buddhist philosopher. It is about the Generation and Dissolution Stages of Tantra in Buddhism བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་འགྲེལ .
I met a male teacher from Hong Kong who is a participant in three day Dharma teaching. According to him, Red China is exporting people into Hong Kong in thousands per month as permanent resident. Three of the original MPs were charged and disposed- making ways for MPs of their choice.
There is a report of around 86 Hong Kong citizens who are missing; they are not in prison, not in hospital and not in their home either.
Today’s teaching is regarding the generation of BodhiCitta Mind. It is a very specific ritual where disciples imitate recitation. It is the last day of the three day teaching.
I got up around 6am and had a cold shower. I walked from Gankyi to Temple gate within 20 minutes.
I visited Norbulinga and DolmaLing which are situated in the valleys of Dharamsala. Norbulinga charges entry fee of Rs. 50/ per head. I was told that they are getting about 150 visitors per day; this is off season. Norbulingga employs about 300 Tibetans and few locals. Norbulinga is a cottage industry. It’s product includes hand crafted wooden cabinets, porcelain toys, monk robes and many more. It is the best self-sustaining institution that generates employments for the Tibetans beside Tibetan Government (CTA).
Dolma Ling is a nunnery SangArama, nesteled behind the Norbulinga Institution. It’s layout and landscape is beautiful. Small stream of water is running all around it. Both Norbulinga and Dolma Ling are not just concrete but trees, flowers, rocks, Tibetan structures (rock cabins), gardens and waterfalls. There is Guetu Monastery little further down the road. After visiting TsuklakKhang temple, Badsunag Hindu Temple, McLeod Ganj Market, above three spots (Norbulinga, Dolma Ling and Gutue Monastery) are must.
I reserved a taxi from Gangkyi to Norbulinga and back. He charged me Rs. 600/.
Today is a sad day for India when Chandrayaan 2 lost contact with ISRO control room in Bangaluru. However, it was our own PM Modi who hugged the ISRO chairman. Such soft corners can happen in India only where Buddha was born. If ISRO chief was the chairman of rocket in China, he would be fired or killed. I salute you, PM Modi Ji, for your magnanimity and showing the best part of human emotion.
I booked bus to Delhi on 9th evening. I could not go in Volvo which is windowless and AC, that gives lot of nausea and headache for me especially going down from Dharamsala to Delhi; while coming up from Delhi in Volvo is fine; it is called motion sickness.
From Delhi my flight to Kathmandhu is at 1 pm. It cost Rs. 5800/. Travel agents jack up the price very much.
Today, I took a walk-a leisure walk- upto Mcleod Ganj from Gangkyi and it took 40 minutes. Within 40 minutes more than 200 vehicles passed me by; I counted them each.
Today, I met an old acquaintance of mine- Mr. Tashi Tseing, the Tibetologist. He has aged and me too. We shared our old stories over two cups of tea each. He is still the head of the AmneyMachen organization. Out of the four original individuals who started AmmyMachen, he is the only one who has persisted. Rest, left for better pasture except one ie Lhasang Tsering. He is in bad health and shape. You can simply say “tashi delek” to him if you encounter him on the street. He will not response well if you greet him with “How are you” etc. He may retort back with “Why, do you think I am not well!”. He is in bad shape. He needs help.
We also discussed about future of Tibetans living in India without any land or property that we can own legally and pass on to our kids. Life without a proper house with your own name on it becomes perpetual struggle. Short term solution is immigration to another country which is a necessary evil. Our culture grew out of India and thus India shares 99 percent of our way of life. Rest of the countries in the world may provide us opportunity to earn more money but we have to sacrifice and compromise many of our own traits which may haunt us down the decades.
School and monasteries are struggling because there are fewer and fewer Tibetan children joining them. Tibetans Settlements, everywhere, are constructing bigger and bigger houses as a matter of competition. It defies any logic. Bigger house are built to accommodate more family members but in these mansion there are only one or two seniors who can hardly keep up the maintenance. If these houses are built for the market (to sell), it has only relative value. Since these houses are built on a leased land, market value is zero.
Today, I met a Tibetan lady who bought a single piece of Avocado and paid Rs. 120. I am completely lost here. Why Tibetans pay so much for a fruit that has no extra value than any other fruit or health benefit unless you have heart issues. Instead people should eat Guava which has the highest content of Vitamin C (Guava has 23 percent; Kiwi has about 9 percent; orange has 14 percent) which can prevent Cancer.
Tibetans can grow Avocado and Kiwi-fruit in North India too. Nechung Monastery has a single tree of Avocado which gives fruit every year.
Today I paid a visit to Buddhist rock in Kenyara road. It is located between old swimming-hotel and Expresso swimming-Hotel. Taxi from Dharamsala (lower) charges Rs. 200 for dropping; there is an Auto Rickshaw that charges Rs. 150 for the same destination. There is a motor mechanic garage on one side and tea stall on the hill side. Just take a walk into a narrow path through the field and walk about 20 minutes to the rock which is fenced and ASI board is visible too.
After visiting this rock, I paid visit to Standing Buddha which was found near a river bed along with a huge Stupa which resembles a small mound today. It is in Chetru, on the way to Gagal airport. Last time when I visited the Statue in 2017, it was under a small roof without walls. Today, it is enshrined inside a glass house with so much adornment of flower, necklaces and dresses, it is difficult to undress it for a photo shoot of the headless Buddha statue. You can undress any statue in India if you claim that you want to venerate it with milk-wash which is custom.
Stupa is just there for anyone to climb and dirty it. It hardly has any semblance of veneration. ASI should allow Buddhist to give it a shape and opportunity to consecrate it including the headless Standing Buddha.
Today is the last day of Mcleod Ganj Mela. Mela stalls stretch from TCV road till spring-water. It is believed that after this Mela (fair), rainy season is over.
I booked Bus to Delhi and flight from Delhi to Kathmandu from TTT. Flight was Rs. 5800 in IndiGo. IndiGo is thrift version which never serves anything on their plane- just few dry smiles. You have to buy your meal. My Dharamsala to Delhi Bus was suppose to leave at 6:30pm but it did not because they changed my Bus from one that told me to get into and one that is now leaving for Delhi. It confused many passangers. It was non AC and cost Rs. 800.
I took Gravol tablet just 15 minutes before our departure. It did the trick. My co-passanger was not doing well and I had to offer my window seat to her. She was vomiting. I gave her a tablet too.
I reached MajnuTila or Delhi at 5:30am. I took an auto Rickshaw to Metro Station near MajnuTila. It cost Rs. 50. From there I took the Metro subway which cost Rs. 30 to New Delhi Metro Station from where there is a special Airport Metro. It cost Rs. 240. It goes to Indra Gandhi international Airport terminal 3 and is AC. This morning, AC in the Metro was not working well.
I waited nearly 5 hours inside the airport because it is AC. A cup of tea cost Rs. 105 which is fine with me because it is AC. I cannot bear the Delhi heat.
I booked return flight ticket from the Airport counter. It was Rs. 6300 from Kathmandu to Delhi.
IndiGo flight GE 33 left Delhi on time. However, instead of leaving from Gate 6, it was changed to Gate 3A. Such phenomena can be understood by airport authority alone. There is no mundane explanation.
At the Nepal airport, you will have to fill an immigration paper(small one, not the a4 size one) or form given to you in the plane. They are the same. This is a normal procedure for all international flight. What is not normal is that you need to use a special kiosk at Nepal airport. It scans your passport- I don’t know why. This Kiosk prints out a bill which is paid at the Cash counter. There is visa price for 15 days, 30 days and 90 days. For 30 days, it cost USD 50. You need to buy return ticket accordingly. My return ticket was after 16 days and I had to buy visa for 30 days. After having paid for the days, you can now cross over to the immigration counter and he will give you visa stamp on your passport. Immigration officer may take from anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes to process your paper. Over all, it take almost one solid hour to finish the process.
I booked a taxi at the airport to Boudanath Gate. It cost me Nepal Rs. 700 and Indian Rs. 450. Some part of the road is broken. It was raining and I had to muster courage to carry the luggage and find my lodge in the rain. I stayed for a night at Khumbu Guest House which is just round the corner if you go counter clockwise to the huge Stupa. With my luggage and rain, I seek His permission to go circumambulation in the wrong circle.
None of the Indian SIMS work in Nepal. Wifi is the best way to keep in touch with your friends. Nothing like WeChat or WhatsApp to stay connected when travelling around the world. Technology made the world small but man is making it difficult to reach each other; only man can reach another man, not alien.
This morning about 9am, I moved to CTA Audit residence which is at Old Arab Bank. It is bit further away from Boudhanath Stupa.
It was built by Licchavi king in 7th century. There were four of them. Licchavi’s settled in Nepal in 100bc. They came from present Bihar area. Nepal is once a Buddhist kingdom as is established by the fact that King of Nepal gave her daughter in marriage to Tsongtsen Gampo-33rd king of king-with a Buddha statue.
It is a historical fact, according to Dunhaung Document, Gansu, China, that Guru Padmasambhava came to Nepal and hired two Nepali Porters and went to Nalanda. From Nalanda he borrowed Twelve Volumes of Phurba Deity Yoga Pecha(Book). He spent the next 6 months or so in Asura Cave and did meditation on Purba Diety. After gaining the Purba, he taught the same to other six disciples of his(BaroTsana etc). He returned all the twelve volumes back to Nalanda.
Asura Cave is about 28km from Boudhanath in the north-west direction. Road is in very bad condition. I went at 10am and reached there around 1pm. Taxi fare without AC was NC 2500.
This cave, if it is the Asura, seems bit small for Padmasambhave and his other disciples to stay.
Just below the Asura Cave is a yet another cave where there is a rock on which both the Ganesh and Tara are seen in 3D. Tibetans believe, Tara just appeared from the rock.
Road in Kathmandhu, especially in Boudhanath area is really shameful.
Only Hindus are allowed inside the main temple. There is a security guard with Gun at the gate. Photography inside the main temple is not allowed. However, I told them that I am Tibetan and Buddhist. They let me in without any further questions. There are other many of the vigilantes who can question your religion. I meditated for 10 minutes inside this temple. Some of the curving on the walls and elsewhere looks like Tibetan Deities. I believe, most of the old temples-Buddhist or Hindu- were Buddhist in origin because they were built by the Licchavi who were Buddhist who settled in Kathmandu back in 200bc.
Sir Cunningham opined that first king Tibet may have been the brother of King of Nepal-Licchavi.
Most of the old historic temples inside the Pashupati were damaged by the Earthquake of 7.8 magnitude on 25, April, 2015. It killed 9000 people. Restoration work is in progress. It is a surprise that many other historic buildings can withstand such a devastating earthquake.
It takes just more than 20 minute from BoudhaNath to Pashupati temple by walk. I walked both the ways- to and from. It was a good exercise.
From BoudhaNath temple, it takes about 40 minute by taxi. It is not walkable.
It is on a hill top. There are two ways to circumambulate here; easy on the top is short or long and difficult one at the base of the hill. It takes 40 minutes to circumambulate at the base, if you really walk fast in a crowd. On auspicious days (10, 15, 30 days of Tibetan Buddhist Calendar) there are plenty of tea, bread and water for free. Thirteen circumambulation at the base, in one day, is considered as the most effective way to remove all obstacles of your life.
There is a motorable road upto the hill-top where there is a parking space for 10 small cars, if you are lucky. If you are not lucky, you can park your car at the base of the hill and walk up a steep and long steps. However, this these steps are not for faint heart or Acrophobia (fear of height). I could not watch people coming up the steps.
Try your luck
There is a pond and a pot in which coins are thrown for good luck. You can purchase coins at the spot too.
Manjushiri Shrine: the oldest monument
folk lore believes that it is Manjushiri who drained all the waters of the valley and made it into habitable land for the people with one swing of his sword.
Another historic artefact at the gate is towards the right hand side is a huge duo Dorjee.
Symabonath is an open museum for faithful and scholars both.
Spectacular view of valley of Kathamnadu can be captured from the top. There are two huge Hindu Stupas that flank the main Buddhist shrine at this top.
Seto Machhendranath Temple (Jan Bahal)
Oldest part of the city; it is also called Tabitha Bahal(Bahal: courtyard)
I visited SymabhuNath today, again, by Bus. There is a direct Bus from BoudhaNath to SyambhuNath Stupa. It cost Rs. 45. It took more than ONE hour to get there. It stops every one minute for passenger, including me. Bus stops where there is a Tibetan Nunnery at SayamBhunath. Bus from the same spot takes you back to BodhaNath.
If you have any bag that is colourful, monkeys will snatch it. Do not open bags in front of the monkeys. They suspect it food and snatch it.
SayambhuNath Stupa base circumambulation pathway is not proper. There are many steps to climb up or down instead of one smooth walk. Elder and poor eye sight might misstep. Such walkway with so many steps is a wrong design. They could have made it into a smooth climb up or down.
It takes about 4 minutes, if you walk fast, to circumambulate the stupa. It is Hexagonal shape at the base.
Huen tsang mentions it as Nepotalu in 601Ad. When Vaisali was destroyed during reign of AjataSastru, Licchavis escaped to present Kathmandu Valley and settled here. It was around 5th century BC. That is one theory. Other theory is that Licchavis escaped during the invasion of Vaisali by Kusanas which is around 2nd century AD. Anyway, it is the Licchavis who settled in Kathmandu and built Buddhist monuments.
For a fun, I went into Hotel imperial Hythe in Kathmandu for a cup of tea. It cost me Rs. 500. Boy, that cup of tea made a deep hole in my pocket.
Vishnu or LuGangyal in Tibetan
LuGangyal or Vishnu is pond where Vishnu is laying on his back. It is a about 8km from BodhaNath toward North. Taxi may charge between Rs. 1000 to 1500 Nepali.
It is visited by both Hindu and Buddhist alike.
Dorjee Phagmo(Vajra Varahi):
Taxi reserve cost NR 2000. There is no bus service and it is about one hour rough ride(2019 Oct). This shrine is worshipped by Hindu too. There is a Tibetan Karma Kagyu Monastery with about 80 monks(not Ogyen Trinley Karmapa). Very few of them speak Tibetan. It is reached only by steps; there are about 800 steps to climb. It is heavily damaged during 2015 earthquake. It is under repair. Shrine is closed when there are no visitors. Caretaker lives little further up the hill and he opens door for the visitors. Photography is not allowed.
I went to above spot at about 10:40am and back in Kathmandu by 2pm.
Maratika- Helesi MahaDev Cave
I left for Maratika, Helesi Mahadev Temple. Taxi reserve cost NR 21,000/. It is a two day trip; one day going up and return the next morning at about 9am. It is 8 hour journey-one way. Road is very, very rough. Journey is not for pregnant women and senior citizens. Normal rate for taxi for one night stay(waiting charges) Rs. 20,000/; stay the night you reach there and return the next morning at about 8am. For two night stay, it cost Rs. 24,000/. My recommendation is keep one full day for Puja. Caves are huge and there are two caves to visit and one hill top which is the abode of Manjusri.
If you intend to stay just one night at Maratika, it is best to travel early morning at 6am from Kathmandu. You will have about four hour to tour Maratika Caves and the mountains before Caves are closed at 6pm. You can visit, again, the Caves the next morning from 5am.
There are good hotels in Maratika. I stayed at Padma Guest house. It has water 24 hours and attached bath room. It has Wifi. it cost NR 1500 per room with one double bed, one single bed and an extra Cot. It is fit room for a family of four(father, mother and two kids). They serve breakfast, lunch and Dinner. It is at walkable, 1 minute, distance from the Cave.
Cave Mountain is encircled in steps with prayer flags and speaker from where Hindu Prayers are chanted endlessly. It is a safe place. Nepal is safe place to visit.
First, visit the main cave and then walk down the steps to the bottom-Cave. Remember that both caves are closed after 6pm. As you exit the bottom cave, there is a long steps up the hill. It takes back to main gate to the main Cave which is at the half way of the hill.
Maratika: Main Cave
Guru Padmasambhava did his meditation with his consort and gained more Bhumi at this cave. His initial cave was Asura cave in Kathmandu. It is on the hill top. There is a small iron gate and stairs to climb down into the cave. Almost all part of the cave is occupied by Hindu and Linga (Shiva). Bat dropping are cleaned by the care takers. Bottom floor is wet. There are few dry spots at various level of the cave for meditation. Silence is not possible as it is visited without break by Hindus and Buddhist alike.
Photography is not allowed at the ground level(2019; rules are not permanent) but at higher level.
When Guru Padma was here around 700ad, he meditated first in this cave. Later he moved to the main cave. The second cave is at the bottom of the hill. Bat droppings in the second cave is not cleaned as often as the first one. it makes walking without shoe in this cave dangerous; shoes are not allowed; Wearing socks makes sense for better grip but socks are now dirty with smell and bacteria. Bring as many socks as you can. Use fresh pair of socks and throw the dirty or put that in a polythene bag for laundry.
These caves remain closed from 6pm till 5am. Photography is allowed in the bottom cave.
I got up at about 6am and did Puja till 7:40 am inside the main cave; left Maratika at 9am.
In Nepal, Sunday is Monday and Saturday is holiday or Sunday.
Nepal is a name given to three historical smaller cities; Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur, which was ruled by three cousins brothers. Nepal was in a huge valley which is surrounded by hills which is Kathmandhu today. Architecture of these three cities belongs to Newar Tribes of Licchavis descends.
Nepal was invaded by hill tribes, Gorkha, who were Hindus. Their tiny kingdom was ruled by Pritivi Narayan Shah who captured Nepal in 1740.
Patan was a Buddhist city. It is where all the metal(copper, brass) icon (ritual objects) are made. If you want to buy Buddha statue, they are made here. Tibetan saying, “Mother sent her boy to receive teaching but the boy end up tinkering in Nepal-Patan(ཨ་མས་བུ་བལ་ཡུལ་ལ་ཆོས་ཞུ་རུ་བཏང། བུ་བལ་ཡུལ་ལ་ལི་རྡུང་།)”.
I visited Patan again today with a friend of mine. He knows more about these ancient historic buildings than most Tibetans. He is an avid reader.
Building architectures are unique and very detail. There is a spot called 9000 Buddha. It is buried within a street and houses. Without a guide it is not possible to locate it. There are more than 4 other spots with historical looks.
Interestingly, I came upon a book “ancient and medieval Nepal by Rishikesh Shaha, Nepal” which refutes the Birkuti’s (བལ་ཟ་སྐོང་རྗོ།) marriage to King Songtsen Gampo (33rd king of Tibet: 617-650ad). He did not provide any argument but follows someone else line of thinking. Licchavis were Buddhist who came from plains of Bihar. They were Buddhist. Present Nepal is Hindu which does not provide any indication that it was Hindu in the past-650ad ie one thousand four hundred years ago.
Flew from Kathmandu to Delhi at about 5pm and reached Delhi on time at about 6:45pm. Flight time was 1 hour and 20 minutes. Took Airport Metro to New Delhi; fare was Rs. 140. From New Delhi I took another local Metro to Civil line Station which is the nearest to Majnukatila where Tibetan Colony is for Rs. 30. So my total cost was less then Rs. 200 for the trip from Indra Gandhi International airport to Majnutila. If you don’t have heavy luggage, Metro is the best. My travel agent booked me a room at Tsampa Guest House. They charge Rs. 1000/ per night. All the Metro trains are AC although Airport Metro AC is not at its best.
I want to go to Bangaluru but advance train ticket is not available and Tatkal (one day advance) is very expensive. Cost of train is almost same as Air ticket. So I booked air ticket from Delhi Indra Gandhi to Bangaluru which cost me Rs. 7000/. Trip takes about 2 hours by air, where as train takes two days to reach bangaluru. If I stay back at the hotel, I will have to pay Rs. 1000/ per night. I also took the same Metro back to Airport and cost me Rs. 50 for Rickshaw to get to the Metro station (Civil Line); metro ticket from Civil to New Delhi was Rs. 30 and from New Delhi to International Airport Terminal 2 is Rs. 140.
Terminal is 2 is bit distance away from the Terminal 3. It is just 5 minute walk. You will have to ask someone to show you the direction though.
I bought a capichino inside the airport for Rs 190. Just as I was walking toward an empty seat, I stepped on my shoe lace that has come loss and my expensive Coffee was gone in second on the floor. I took few sip of my bottle water and settled down. Of course, I cannot ask for the second Coffee for free. This is India.
Majnutila Hotels are becoming expensive to stay and I, for one, do not intend to stay any longer than necessary. If it is cheaper, I might spend few days extra to enjoy shopping and sight-seeing in Delhi.
Hotel owner want to charge more rent and that drives Tibetans away from Majnutila. At these rate, OYO offers better choice with better facility. OYO hotel chain is very much standard and more spacious. They charge less if you book it from the Internet. OYO AC cost Rs. 1200 to Rs. 1300.
I checked out early, about 10am and left for the International airport by Metro. I want to spend my extra time in AC- airport are AC. A Cup of tea cost the same, inside airport or outside.
I reached Bangaluru at about 6:40pm. Flight was about 2 hours and 30 minutes from IG international airport, Terminal 2, which is 5 minutes walk from Terminal 3. Since I booked one of the Thrifty Air Service such as GoAir and IndiGo, they do not provide any food for FREE. From Bangaluru Airport which is on the opposite side of the Bagaluru ie on Hydrabad Road, it took almost 2 hours to get to Majestic Area. Taxi fare was Rs. 1200. Note, I learned that there is a bus service at the Bangaluru airport that will go to Majestic city.
I stayed at Mayura Hotel at Majestic. Single bed room cost Rs. 650 per night. It is very spacious and provides News paper and bottled water for FREE. It is just 1 minute walk from local bus and Metro station. From Majestic to MG or Brigade road cost Rs. 15 on Metro.
Mayura Hotel is NOT for foreigners. Read my log on 5th Oct below for more information.
Brigade Road is changed and looks very much uglier than it used to- thirty years back. Back then, it was the place to go to for shopping and eat. Now it resembles more like a dying street, fighting for survival.
Koramangla has few surprises. First, there is a Tibetan Mall with 14 stores. There is a Tibetan Beauty Parlour, Tibetan Medical Center and Tibet Hotel. It is next to JotiNivas College. When I was in Bangaluru, Jotinivas college for Women was in a Jungle. Today, it is bustling with nice coffee shops and friendly people. Nagarjuna Restaurant serves Plate meal- veg and non veg- on Banana leave. Food is excellent.
Shangrila of Brigade Road is still there. Rice Bowl is gone. Tibet Store at St. Patricks church used to be Carpet show room; it was called “Contact” when I was in college. There are few Tibetan Shops at Brigade road.
Tibetan Medical Center
Tibetan Medical Center is on third floor, Tibetan Mall, Koramangala, Bangaluru. It is owned and run by Dr. Yonten (Jampa Yonten). He is a successful Tibetan Medical Practitioner in Ayurvedic. His students and patients are all over the world.
I took an Auto Rickshaw to Satellite Bus Terminal to go to Mysore. Auto Rickshaw fare was Rs. 200. Auto driver suggested that I take a shared Taxi to Mysore which was Rs. 200/ only. I took is advice and took the Taxi to Mysore. It took about 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Mysore. From there I went to Sera Monastery in a Taxi which was hired by my friend- Geshe.
Sera Monastery has transformed into huge college campus with breadth and width that is beyond my imagination. It is like a heaven with lots of Tree and birds.
There are clean eateries at the Mysore Bus terminals. South India is more clean and people are gentle.
Sera Monastery has two fraternities: SeraJey and SeraMe. They have their own separate Viharas and also combined Vihara which is huge to accommodate more than 4500 monks.
SeraJey has their own thirteen fraternities such as Tiwoe, Lhowa etc. which is based on regions of Tibet. There are about 3000 monks in SeraJey. It has a modern School where math, science and English are taught.
Shops and Eateries
There are shops owned by SeraMey and SeraJey. These stores have almost everything for daily use: from Clarks footwears to Nike flip-flop as well as thermos, Led flashlight, Stampa, and Oats.
Tsampa in Bylakuppe is not Barley but wheat which is not healthy food.
I went to visit Markara which is about 1 hour journey from Kushalnagar. Markara grows Croog Coffee and Cocoa. They are also famous for black pepper. It is on a hill top. There are not much tourist spots there.
It is a Tibetan Buddhist Temple (Namdroling Monastery) located in Tibetan Camp (lama Camp) IV, Kushalnagar, Madikeri, Coorg district, Mysore, Karnataka, India(South). Temple is amazing and its surroundings such as ornamental trees, garden, flowers and water ponds are astounding. It was inaugurated by H.H. the Dalai Lama way back in 60’s. Temple has beautiful images of Buddha, Padmasambhava and Tsepakme.
There are shops and restaurants within and outside the temple premises; outside shops are cheaper.
Visiting hour is between 7am to 6pm, seven days. Silence is mandatory. Smoking is not allowed anywhere within the monastery compound.
It was about 1986 when I was in SOS Bylakuppee, since then it has changed a lot. Old Camp number one is now a market place with hundreds of shops. Auto Rickshaw is available from Camp number One to Sera; fare is Rs. 50.
Tashi Lhunpo Gonpa is huge. There is a Tsongten Gampo Statue, riding a horse, with Sutra in one hand and Vajra in the other. Same Statue was found in Kargyu Gonpa, Tsongten Library, in Dekyiling, Rajpur.
There is a compound with many houses for retired CTA staff near the gate of Sera Monastery.
Mr. Pema Tsawang passed away on August 19. He suffered liver Cancer and his age was not in his favour for any surgery. He was 83.
I studied in Bangalore (Bachelor in Engineering) with his son Sonam Gyatso and his sister Yangtsogyal. It was in 1981 when Working Committee Meeting of Tibetan Youth Congress was held in Bylakuppee. I was there too. Mr. Pema Tsewang donated Rs. 3000/ for TYC. He was the only one who made such a huge contribution to Tibetan Organization.
By percentage, cancer among Tibetan is huge. Liver cancer is a major one. It is alcohol and red meat that is causing it. Tibetans are NOT ready to give up either of them.
End of part Three.