Visa & Other Advice
Indian Visa rules and application procedures vary by the applicant’s country of citizenship and the country in which the application is made. For general information about obtaining an Indian Visa see: Ministry of Tourism.
Visas can be applied for in person or by post at the Indian Embassy/High Commission/Consulate based in the country from where you intend to depart for India. For a list of these offices in your country see: Ministry of External Affairs.
Please note that Indian Visas are valid from the date on which they are issued, so it is advised to not apply too far in advance of your trip. For example, a 6-month visa issued on 1 June will only be valid until 1 December, regardless of what date you arrive in India.
For tourist information specifically about Karnataka State see: Karnataka Department of Tourism.
To avoid offending others while visiting the monastery, please be aware of the following inappropriate conduct. Even if you do not intend to be disrespectful, such behavior may appear rude and inconsiderate.
1. Do not remain seated when His Holiness the Dalai Lama enters the prayer hall. Please stand when His Holiness enters the prayer hall, do not sit until after he sits, and please stand up as he is leaving the prayer hall.
2. Do not put Dharma materials (prayer books, Dharma books, or notebooks with Dharma in them) on the floor, step over them, sit/stand on them, or place non-Dharma objects on top of them.
3. Do not lie down, sleep, do any yoga/stretching exercises, or chew gum in the prayer hall at any time.
4. Do not point your feet towards the teacher or any holy object (statues, paintings, etc.).
5. Inside the monastery avoid wearing clothing which is too revealing (short pants, short skirts and sleeveless shirts). Appropriate clothing includes long or short-sleeve shirts/t-shirts, trousers and long skirts.
6. Do not express public displays of intimacy (kissing, hugging, holding hands, giving massages, etc.), as this would cause unnecessary discomfort to the monastic community.
7. While listening to Dharma teachings, do not cover your head with hats/scarves/umbrellas, unless you need to do so in order to protect your health. His Holiness makes a point of encouraging those who are sitting in the hot sun/rain/cold weather to cover their heads in order to protect themselves.
8. When entering the prayer hall, please remove your shoes. In seating areas outside of the prayer hall, Tibetans usually keep their shoes on while walking through a seated crowd to avoid carrying shoes near the faces or over the heads of people who already seated. You may wish to follow this custom or carry your shoes in a plastic bag.
9. When tea and bread are distributed during the teachings, do not eat these immediately; please wait until after His Holiness has said the offering prayer.
10. During the entire teaching period you are encouraged to not drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes.
During teaching days, morning bread/tea, a simple lunch, and afternoon tea will be distributed to all attendees inside the teaching venue. If you wish to have this food and tea, please bring your own bowl, spoon and tea cup to the teachings. In order to avoid waste and environmental pollution, disposable cups/plates/utensils will not be distributed.
For all other meals, there are simple Tibetan-style restaurants and vegetable vendors within the grounds of the monastery, as well as a wider variety of restaurants and shops in Kushalnagar.
Foreign exchange agencies, which convert a variety of currencies, are widely available in India these days, as are ATM’s for your international debit and credit cards. Some ATM’s charge a small fee, and most have a daily withdrawal limit.
There are only two ATM/banks inside of Bylakuppe settlement – one near Sera Lachi Prayer Hall and one near the entrance to Camp 1. There are more ATM’s and banks in Kushalnagar (7km from Sera). It may be possible to exchange foreign currency in a Western Union Office – there are several in Bylakuppe Settlement including one near Sera Mey Library.
During the time of His Holiness’ teachings the ATM’s may be very busy and sometimes run out of money, so it may be more convenient for you to obtain/change most of your money in larger cities, such as Mysore and Bangalore, before travelling to Sera.
Bylakkuppe is located at an altitude of 790m (2600ft) above sea level. Typical December temperatures are 16°C – 30°C (60°F – 85°F), with very little rain fall.
Should you require medical care during the teachings, there will be a medical tent near the teaching venue which will provide allopathic (Western) and traditional Tibetan medicine. There are also several allopathic clinics in Bylakuppe and Kushalnagar.
For the latest information on travel health advice for India, including recommended travel vaccinations, visit the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).