BHS

Belur, Halebid and Shravanabelagola (BHS) …..

Belur and Halebid are small towns where you will find Hindu Temples constructed in the Hoysala period. Belur is that bit larger but maybe Halebid beats it for the intricacies of its carving.

The towns themselves are quite ordinary

Shravanabelagola is a Temple town with the original ‘Prince’ represented in a giant monolithic statue at the top of the hill, there are other temples dotted around the town. It is one of the most important Jain Temples in the world so this is a religious town. There are places to stay and eat frequented by the pilgrims.

Melkote is a Hindu Temple town with atmospheric street, two main Temples, Tank (Temple pond), ruins and Khad cotton, hand spinning and weaving project. Again this is a small religious town.

If you have a taxi it is feasible to do this trip en-route to Coorg or Chigmaglur and in that case it might be possible to take in Bylakuppe.

As always, number one tip: don’t try to do too much!

Most tourists don’t visit these gems because of the limits on their time.

One day or longer? using taxis

Those that do will usually complete the three places in a day trip in a taxi from Mysore. It’s called BHS takes 10-12 hours in total so it’s a long day and costs in the vicinity of 3000 Rs and that’s with a driver who is not a guide. It’s a round trip of about 400 kms. I’ve done it a couple of times. It’s a full day but perfectly manageable.

Occasionally people will extend their trip and stay overnight in one of the places. This can also be done in a taxi, likely cost for two days is 4700Rs or for three days is 5700 Rs Prices will vary depending upon the final route, the type of car and are likely change. These are only intended as a guide, they were good in August 2017.

Other transport

There is a train, reservations are not necessary (or possible.?) and I’m told it’s not too busy or hectic but we don’t really know.

Buses there are both direct and indirect, it takes over three hours to Hasan and maybe another hour or more to Belur. We’ve never done it so not absolutely sure. They do exist and can be sorted once you’re in Mysore.

There is a bus between Belur and Halebid. We’re talking local buses that could be a real adventure with great insights.

Accommodation

Check the suggestions for accommodation at the BHS update here

Places to stay are limited. If you do use a taxi and take more than one day it is also possible to include the Temple Town of Melkote. These towns do not have much in the way of facilities for foreign tourists. There are now AirBnB places and government ‘resorts.’ Most pilgrims in places such as Shravanabelagola and Melkote will stay in lodging or guest houses. Some might not be able to take foreign tourists.

Please recognise our knowledge is limited. In any case, in India, expect the unexpected. 😉

Other more local options

For those who don’t have the time or the inclination to do the full thing it’s also possible to:

– combine Shravanabelagola with Melkote as a day trip. Our good friend Tanuja provides a tour of Melkote that includes the Gandhian Khadi cotton project.

– fit in a Hoysala Temple as there is a smaller but perfectly good beautiful alternative, Somnathpur, an hour or so from Mysore Bed and Breakfast which can be part of an auto rickshaw tour, passing through lovely countryside. Most guests at Mysore Bed and Breakfast manage to fit this in if they stay more than two nights and are not overcome by Temples.

For those who don’t do a MYCycle cycle tour of Srirangapatnam (shame) it is possible to combine Somnathpur and Srirangapatnam as a day trip in auto rickshaw.

Tibet in a day!

One of the popular places to visit for a day, from Mysore, is the Tibetan Settlement of Bylakuppe near Kushalanagar. A great friend of Manjula and Stephen’s is Ani Samten, originally from the States she is a Buddhist nun (that’s what Ani means) who’s lives at a Monastery in the settlement.

Some of our guests have been really lucky to be able to meet up with Ani and get a personal tour!

Let’s hear from Ani Samten herself about that very tour.

“One of my fave jobs at the monastery is giving tours to visiting foreigners.
We have our original, traditionally built/decorated temple, a new temple under construction, an incense-making factory and a statue maker.
I’ll take you on a virtual tour, in the same order I take visitors, starting with the old temple.

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Welcome to Drikung Kagyudpa Monastic Institute, known as Kagyu Gonpa in the settlement.

Everyone enters through the main gate. The original temple is up the steps, in the background

 

 

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The double entry door to the temple.

Notice the rich, vivid colours and how every surface is painted…often in a different colour.

In Tibet, where the landscape can be so stark/barren, it is amazing to see richly painted temples such as this emerge over the crest of a hill.

 

 

 

 

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Inside the shrine room.

As in most temples in Tibet, every inch of wall space is painted/covered with thangkas, wall hangings of deities/lamas painted on canvas and framed in brocade.

Left rear is a throne for HH Dalai Lama. Rear of the room is a huge, red Buddha Amitabha statue, encased in glass. To the left of the statue is a photo of our lineage head.

Two of the three drums used in our ceremonies are in the photo, as are both types of cymbals. Three types of horns are used in our ceremonies, but none are in this photos.

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A huge thangka of Buddha Amitahba in his Pure Land.

Buddha Amitabha is the Buddha of Infinite Light, and very important to the Phowa practice. Phowa is the transference of consciousness at the time of death. Our lama, H E Choeje Ayang Rinpoche, is a Phowa master.

The two black items are two of the very long horns used in our ceremonies. They telescope out to be very long when used

On the table in front of the horns is tsog (blessed food) offering, which will be distributed to the monks and lay people after the tsokpa (prayer service).”

 

 

Do check Ani’s facebook page to contact her and for more details of her life here in India

If you’re fortunate there may the opportunity to meet up with Ani if you choose to visit the Tibetan Settlement. For details of how to contact Ani and to arrange a day trip to the Settlement where you’ll also find: the Golden Temple, other monasteries, Thangka, carpet and prayer flag workshops. shops in Camp One and restaurants for Tibetan meals.

Farrell Factoid

It isn’t admissible to stay after dark in the settlement without a Goverment pass (takes ages) but its prefectly possible to visit for a day trip either from Mysore or Coorg (its just on the edge of  Coorg). We can arrange a taxi and if you wish to stay overnight (nearby) we can suggest places.

Do check the map of the settlement drawn by one of our previous guests to help you find your way around.

Ani doesn’t charge for her tours but I’m sure a donation to her work at the Monastery would be appreciated.

Do be sure to check out the workshop where they make the statues, it’s one of my personal favourites.

maps

at Mysore Bed and Breakfast we have commercial maps of the city and further afield in India for guests to use for reference and planning. We’ve also created our own maps of our two fave places Mysore City

Mysore City Map
Mysore City Map

and Srirangapatnam. image

If you come and stay with us, at the Mysore bed and Breakfast we’ll provide a simple map, personalised with details of the attractions that interest you.

A guest of Mysore Bed and Breakfast, Paul Johanson has kindly provided a map drawn after visiting Bylakuppe with Vets Beyond Borders.

Bylakuppe map

Bylakuppe cycle tour anyone?

Cand (aka Candida from Italy) helps Stephen develop our next exciting cycle tour to be launched later this year.

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