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Photos: Inside the unlikely place Tibetans are now calling home

By Saptarishi Dutta
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Some 80 kilometres away from the southern Indian city of Mysore, Bylakuppe is a small town in Karnataka surrounded by coffee plantations and dense jungles.

But here is what makes Bylakuppe special: It houses among the largest Tibetan settlements in India—the Lugsung Samdupling settlement and the Dickey Larsoe settlement.

The Lugsung Samdupling settlement was first established in 1960, after the Dalai Lama came to India, with just 3,000 residents. Nine years later, in 1969, the Dickey Larsoe settlement was set up.

Today, some 20,000 Tibetans live in this small town, including monks who can often be seen roaming around on bicycles—or if it’s the Tibetan New Year, performing the Cham dance wearing masks and colorful costumes.

The town is dotted with monasteries and nunneries. One such place of worship, and perhaps the most famous in the region, is the Namdroling Monastery. It houses the Golden Temple that is presided over by three gold-plated Buddha statues.

In all, there are about 1,28,014 Tibetans living in exile with 94,203 Tibetans living in India alone, according to the Central Tibetan Administration. They are scattered around different parts of the country including Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

The most famous and important Tibetan settlement in India is almost 2,500 kilometres from Bylakuppe, in the Himalayas—Dharamsala, residence of the Dalai Lama.

Reuters/Abhishek N. Chinnappa
A Tibetan Buddhist monk walks in front of the Golden Temple.
AP Photo/Abhishek N.Chinnappa
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama delivers the Jangchup Lamrim teachings at the Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe.
AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
Tibetan Buddhist monks assembled at a monastery in Bylakuppe.
AP Photo/Abhishek N. Chinnappa
A monk stirs a ladle as he prepares a curry for monks.
AP Photo/Abhishek N. Chinnappa
A young monk runs in joy.
AP Photo/Abhishek N. Chinnappa
A young Tibetan monk gestures to the camera.
AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
Tibetans living in exile listen to their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
Tibetan monks walk around a Tibetan Buddhist monastery during an event organized to celebrate the 78th birthday of the Dalai Lama in Bylakuppe.
AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi
A Tibetan exile dancer sports a traditional face mask.

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