Nyalam is a humid one-street town. The only cultural sight close to Nyalam is Milarepa’s Cave. Milarepa was a famous Buddhist mystic and composer of songs who lived in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. During his time spent in long meditation in this cave he renounced all luxuries and survived on a diet of local weeds (famously turning green as a result).
Milarepa’s Cave is signposted ‘Milarepa Buddhist Practice Cave’ and is 11km north of Nyalam, at Gangka village. There is also a cave associated with Milarepa in Nepal on the Annapurna_Circuit at approximately 4000m just outside of Manang. 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, 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.
Restoration work within the cave and the monastery was undertaken by artists and craftsmen from Nepal and was financed by the Chinese government in the 1970s.
Milarepa was one of Tibet's most famous yogis and poets. He was a student of Marpa Lotsawa, and a major figure in the history of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Milarepa Meditation Cave is the site of Milarepa’s first one year retreat after completing his studies under Marpa.