Monday, November 12, 2007

Mundgod - Mini Tibet of India

You will be surprised there is a mini Tibet in a remote part of India. Read about it.

Mini Tibet of India

Ever heard of the Mini Tibet of India?
No. I am not talking about Dharamshala, the head quarters of His Highness, the Hon’ble Dalai Lama, the political and spritual leader of the Tibetans. I am talking about Mundgod.

Mundgod was a non descript panchayat town in the State of Karnataka in India. Today, is the repository of Tibetan life and culture. It showcases the life style and ambitions of the Tibetan refugees and reflects the gradual transformation of a traditional society into modernity. It has rightfully earned the name ‘Mini Tibet’.


In 1949, the Chinese army marched into Tibet’s eastern provinces of Do-med and Do-tod. In the coming years, under various names and pretexts, the Chinese invaded and took over Tibet.
After his Palace was attacked, the Dalai Lama left Lhasa on 17 March 1959 and traveled incognito on foot with a 37 member entourage. After a hazardous 13 day difficult trek that involved eluding Chinese troops, crossing the Himalayas, crossing the Kyichu and Tsangpo rivers and making their way through Lhoka area, Yarlung Valley and Tsona Dzong and fording a 500 meter wide stretch of the Brahmaputra river, the entourage entered India through the Khenzimana Pass on 30 March, 1959 and took shelter in the picturesque Tawang Ganzen Namgyet Lhacheh Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.

On 29 April, 1959, the Dalai Lama set up the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the Tibetan Government in Exile, in Mussoorie. In May 1960, the Dalai Lama and the CTA moved over to Dharamshala.

In the early 1960s, the Central Tibetan Administration requested the Government of India to help them set up settlements for Tibetan refugees. The Government of India gave the CTA several areas of land to enable the Tibetan refugees to settle down together and retain their culture and traditional way of life.

The Government of Karnataka gave 4,000 acres (16 square kilometres) of mostly forested land in Mundgod, near Hubli. (There are four other Tibetan settlements in Karnataka). The Tibetans set up the Doeguling Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod in 1966. Today, it is the largest concentration of Tibetan refugees in the world, exceeding seventeen thousand persons.

Population and number of villages in the settlement

Initial population of the Doeguling Tibetan Settlement 4,302
Population according to 2001 census 16,171
Total Tibetan refugees in India 85,000
Every settlement has a representative who is the overall head of the settlement. The Doeguling Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod comprises of 11 villages, of which 2 villages, Drepung and Ganden, are exclusively for monasteries.
These 11 villages are scattered over different locations. The distance between one village and another on an average is 4 - 6 Kms. Each village has its own elected leader who takes all major decisions relating to his village.


The Doeguling Tibetan Settlement has a total of 7 monasteries:

1. Ganden Jangtse
2. Ganden Shartse
3. Nyingma
4. Drepung Loseling
5. Drepung Gomang
6. Ratoe
7. Kargue Monastry

Mundgod is an excellent centre of monastic education. The Doeguling Monastic University, a replica of Tibet’s reputed 500-year-old Doeguling Monastic University, which was destroyed by the Chinese in 1959, has 4000 student monks from many countries undergoing a rigorous Mahayana-Buddhist theological education and pursuing a simple monistic lifestyle. The total number of monks in the settlement is more than 8,000.
There is a high school. Many schools for lower classes. A good modern hospital. A Tibetan Medical and Astro institute. Old homes. Several co-operative societies.
Though limited in number, the Government of India has reserved a few seats in medical and engineering colleges for the Tibetan refugees.

Dalai Lama’s visit to Mundgod

The Dalai Lama visited Mundgod in January 1995 and gave discourses on the Kalachakra.
He will visit Mundgod again next year (January 2008) to inaugurate the new hall of the Drepung monastery - the biggest monastic building with the largest prayer hall.

Travel Guide

Hubli, the nearest town, is about 47 Km from Mundgod. There are all kinds of hotels in Hubli - from the budget class to the three star.

Nearest railway station
Hubli 47 Km

Nearest Air ports
Hubli 47 Km
Goa 300 Km
Bangalore 400 Km

Hubli to Mundgod 47 Km

There are excellent road and train services connecting Hubli to Goa, Bangalore, and to all other parts of India.


Mundgod is approximately 1800 ft. above sea level and the temperature ranges between 78 to 90 degree Fahrenheit. The average annual rainfall is 42” to 45”.


Visit the Doeguling Tibetan Settlement in Mundgod - the beautiful Mini Tibet in the heart of India. Walk through the lanes and streets. Stroll through the beautiful monasteries. You will see beautiful statues of the Buddha and Tibetan deities. You will see incense sticks and the huge colourful chanting drums.

You will see Tibetans dressed in their traditional attire waiting for a taxi or engaged in their daily chores. Talk to the Tibetans. Watch the children study and play. Observe the monks engaged in worship and study.

One thing will not fail to impress you. The Tibetans are hard working, happy and ever cheerful. But like the youngsters in other developing countries, the youngsters here, too, are restless. They want to quit their simple traditional life styles and adopt modern ways of living.

They want to study, get higher education and move over to the bigger cities and even to the Western world.

Visit Mundgod. You will feel as if you are visiting Tibet.

For any help or assistance, you can contact:
Representative, Doeguling Tibetan Settlement P.O. Tibetan Colony, Mundgod Distt. North Kanara Karnataka State - 571457 India Telephone: 08301-45732Fax: 08301-45877

You will find a lot of information on Tibet, His Highness the Dalai Lama, the Mundgod Settlement and on other settlements on the official Web site of the Central Tibetan Administration:

(972 Words) Binoy Gupta

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