There is a small town in Uttara Kannada, lying in the midst of the Western Ghats which has gained prominence amongst Indian travelers of late however from a alternate perspective it is of great importance. The town of Mundgod on the Hubli -Sirsi route ( NH 52 ) would not have gained recognition nationally if not for one unique fact which is so diametrically opposite to the entire regional fabric of this town and its location.
It was chosen as a one of the settlements for the Tibetan refugees, it is a matter of pride that the Tibetan refugees were welcomed to this part of the country so far away from their home and it is a source of joy that they integrated themselves so well into the local framework while at the same time maintaining their identity
I was very much interested in visiting this place for seeing the various Monasteries and way of life. Hence one day I decided to drive down from Karwar towards Mundgod ( a distance of 132 km ) . The state highway does not indicate any change and I was not sure what to expect. As I reached the outskirts of the place, the first thing I noticed were the boards stating the location of various localities/camps which are how the settlement has been demarcated. There are a total of 11 camps, very neat and lively dotted with prayer flags and chortens.
Drepung and Gaden camps are only for monasteries. The settlement has seven monasteries with Drepung being the biggest. The moment I entered the settlement, there was a sudden change in the visuals, an explosion of the colour red and yellow. The monasteries and their imposing gates along with so many monks in their traditional saffron robes welcome the traveller whole heartedly.
From what I could understand that the settlement is thriving now with all the looks of a small town dotted with monasteries that are also universities and imparting monastic education. There is an air of studious fervor as one sees little children and young boys all with books. the Drepung Monastic university which I visited is fashioned after the Tibetan Doeguling University which was destroyed by the Chinese in 1959, it is home to student monks who come from far and wide including various countries to study theological education and live a simple monastic life. I was explained that there are more than 8000 monks in the settlement and majority of them are undergoing studies, certainly a fact which filled me with pride.
I felt this was the best way to move forward, a place of education where the student can study freely and candidly without oppression and I could see that progress was still underway with more infrastructure coming up.
Tourist are very welcome here and there are many small shops which sell all kinds of souvenirs from prayer wheels to robes to incense sticks to wooden carvings. There are small eateries where one can enjoy the local Tibetan delicacies too. Overall definitely a place for a visit and if timings are favorable then one can also spend some time in the prayer halls when prayers are being conducted. However, there are hardly any place to stay with respect to Hotels/homestays out here so that has to be kept in mind when planning a trip to Mungod.
|How to get there||50 km from Hubli
132 km from Karwar
|Best time of the Year||Avoid Summers|
|What to see||Gaden and Drepung Monastery|
|Where to Stay||No specific place within Mundgod, best would be Hubbali|