As you drive from Mysore to Madikeri, you pass by a small town called Kushalnagar next to which there is a large Tibetan settlement - Bylakuppe. Tibetans resettled here in 1961 on land given to them by the central government. An archway appearing on the left of the state highway and a small signboard are all you will see and its easiliy missed. But don't miss it if you are planning a trip to Coorg.
Go through the archway and there is an immediate and distinct transformation - the grass is literally greener on the other side. Gently rolling hills and vales, rolling paddy fields dotted with other cash crops, colourful prayer flags festooned over the entire vista and you really feel like like you've been transported through a magical portal into Tibet.
Bylakuppe houses the second largest Tibetan population in India after Dharamsala and if you like their cuisine and their crafts, this is a great place to go. The most popular destination for tourists is the Namdroling Monastery which has their Golden Temple.
The monastery is situated on a large campus and has many temples and shrines. The interiors are covered with huge wall paintings and large golden figures of buddhist saints. In one corner this small cottage-like structure caught my eye and I asked a shy young monk about it. I was told it houses some sacred relics and is kept locked but is one of the holiest spots in the campus.