Milarepa's Cave

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Overlooking Pelgyeling Gompa at Milarepa's cave, Tibet
Milarepa statue, Pango Chorten, Gyantse, Tibet

Milarepa's Cave or Namkading Cave is a cave where the great Tibetan Buddhist philosopher, and Vajrayana Mahasiddha, Milarepa (c. 1052—c. 1135 CE), spent many years of his life in the eleventh century, 11 km north of the town of Nyalam, below the roadside and above the Matsang river in Nyalam County, Tibet.[1]

There is also a cave associated with Milarepa in Nepal on the Annapurna Circuit at approximately 4000m just outside Manang. It is credited to have been the residence of the famous Saint Milarepa during his stay in modern-day northern Nepal. This site also includes a holy spring, gompa, and bow from the local archer who met and tried to kill Milarepa. In the classical songs of Milarepa, he sings of a deer, a dog and a hunter, the chain of causation and compassion. In local tradition this is the site of this famous tale. The cave is located beyond the Gompa, the locals pray from the edge of a glacial moraine in directly line of sight of the cave as its approach directly is on steep scree slope.

Phelgyeling Monastery[edit]

A path leads down from the roadside through the village and down a hillside where there is a small monastery (gompa) named Nyanang Pelgye Ling Monastery, or Phelgyeling which is built around the cave.[2][3] The Assembly Hall of the monastery has the statue of Buddha Shakyamuni in center which is 7feet in height.

The monastery used to be a Kagyupa but, later the monastery was converted to Gelugpa by H.H.5th Dalai Lama, Later Phelgyeling Monastery was affiliated with the Gelugpa Sera Monastery in Lhasa.[4]

Description of the cave[edit]

Milarepa's cave, which overlooks the entrance to the hidden valley of Lapchi Gang, is entered from the gompa's vestibule. Pilgrim's offerings of decorated stones along the path and sweet-smelling herbs and wild flowers growing all around make this a place of great peace and beauty. The cave itself is kept as a shrine by two monks, guarding a statue of Milarepa enclosed in a glass case. In the cave is an impression in the rock attributed to Milarepa's sitting meditation posture and a hand print said to have been created when Milarepa helped Rechungpa (1083/4-1161 CE), his student, use a boulder to prop up the ceiling. There are images of Milarepa, Tsongkhapa, and Shri Devi, a protectress whose mule is said to have left a footprint in the stone when she visited Milarepa in a vision.[5]

Restoration work within the cave and the monastery was undertaken by artists and craftsmen from Nepal[6] and was financed in the 1970s by the Chinese government, which has been in military occupation of Tibet since 1950.

In art[edit]

The cave and the Pelgye Ling temple have been the subject of Richard Gere's artistic photo work, Milarepa's Cave, Nyelam Pelgye Ling Temple, Tibet (1993).[7]


  1. ^ Dorje (1999), p. 304.
  2. ^ Tibet: Highlights in Brief
  3. ^ Karl-Heinz Everding, "Tibet: lamaistische Klosterkulturen, nomadische Lebensformen und bäuerlicher Alltag ...", p. 260. ISBN 3-7701-4803-7
  4. ^ Dorje (1999), p. 304.
  5. ^ Dorje (1999), p. 304.
  6. ^ Dowman, Keith. 1988. The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London & New York. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0, p. 282.
  7. ^ MARGARETT LOKE, "Art In Review" Column New York Times, November 28, 1997


  • Dorje, Gyurme (1999). Footprint Tibet Handbook with Bhutan. Second Edition. Footprint Handbooks, Bath, England. ISBN 1-900949-33-4.
  • Dowman, Das (1988). The Power-places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London & New York. ISBN 0-7102-1370-0.
  • Mayhew, Bradley and Kohn, Michael Tibet. (2005). 6th Edition. Lonely Planet. ISBN 1-74059-523-8.

External links[edit]