BYLEKUPPE: Bylekuppe near Kushalanagar is one of the largest Tibetan settlements in south India. The settlement, set up in 1960, is dotted with several monasteries and the prominent among these are the Great Gompa of Sera Je and Sera Mey and the Namdroling monastery. The Mahayana Buddhist University is at Sera. Another important monastery is the Tashi Lhumpo monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama. The gold-coated Buddhist statues in the monastery are imposing and unique, reflecting the rich cultural heritage of the Tibetans. The statues are of Guru Padmasambhava, Buddha Shakyamuni and Amitayus. The settlement is home to over 16,000 refugees from Tibet who fled their country after its invasion by the Chinese. There are nearly 7,000 monks and nuns. Agriculture is the main occupation of the refugees. Besides, they make handicrafts, carpets and incense. Tourists can shop for sweaters, dress material and other accessories.
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