Located amidst the sandal groves a few hours from Bangalore and Mysore, in Karnataka state, South India, Namdroling was established by His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche shortly after he came to India from Tibet. With only 300 rupees in his hand and with just a handful of monks, he laid the foundation stone of the three-storied main temple that then covered an area of 80 square feet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama consecrated the spot and bequeathed the name "Namdroling Monastery." Today the monastery is home to nearly 5000 monks and nuns, renowned as a center for the pure upholding of the teachings of the Buddha.
In 1681 Mudda Raja selected the central but inaccessible site of present day Madikeri for the capital of the independent Hindu dynasty of Coorg. A fort built in 1812 by Raja Lingarajendra II and the hilltop Omkareshwara Temple overlook the relatively quiet town. Raja’s Seat, a picturesque little garden, commands a panoramic view and beautiful sunsets.
Tibetan Settlements Around Bylakuppe
Southwestern Karnataka is also home to the largest Tibetan settlement in India outside the Himalayan belt. Both recent refugees from Tibet and those born elsewhere, live here in a landscape and climate that is a far cry from Tibet but, as one monk pointed out, with one crucial consolation: they live without fear and practice their faith in freedom. With the cross-border migration of thousands of monks in recent decades, India also seems to have emerged as the destination for higher Tibetan Buddhist studies. But unlike most Tibetan settlements in the Indian Himalayas, the monasteries here appear to be larger and more opulent. The shiny Namdroling monastery even has gigantic gold-plated statues of Tibetan deities which, in contrast with its own teaching, must provoke awkward questions in the mind of many a visitor.