Today, Sunday 17th of July, we had the privilege of visiting the unique cultural setting of an expansive Tibetan refugee settlement, located in Bylakuppe, located roughly 80 kilometres west of Mysore city. It is one of the most frequented tourist locations in Southern India. The community hosts more than 70.000 Tibetan residents. The settlement is established on land which is leased by the state of Karnataka, and houses the Tibetan expatriates, who came to India to escape Chinese persecution in their homeland of Tibet. The successful resettlement of a foreign people and their integration into the regional society and economy lends credence to India’s ancient tradition of harbouring and accepting people from across the world.

By Arjun Srinivas

In addition to residential quarters, the complex includes three monasteries, and a Buddhist University. The Namdroling Monastery or the Golden Temple is the main attraction of the complex. It is a temple dedicated to ‘Padmasambhava’, who is incidentally an Indian, who introduced Buddhism to ancient Tibet.

In the second half of the day, we travelled to Brindavan Gardens, in the neighbouring Mandya district. These gardens adjoin the Krishnarajasagar dam which is built on the Kaveri river. This historical dam was built during the 1930’s and is of enormous significance for the surrounding regions. Not only does it completely supply the irrigation needs of Mandya and Mysore districts, but it also provides the entire drinking water supply to the city of Bangalore. An additional significance of the dam was that, thanks to the hydroelectricity generated here, Bangalore became the first city in Asia to be electrified.

In entirety, it was a good day of exploration and particularly the foreign participants enjoyed the landscape of rural Karnataka. Perhaps, it also served as an escape from the frenetic pace of Bangalore. It was also a great means of showcasing the cultural and natural diversity of my home state of Karnataka in India. 

In 2014, Arjun Srinivas completed his MSc Economics at the Madras School of Economics in India and he currently works as researcher for the Indian Institute for Human Settlements. For more information, please see: