Act like a local
Touch the Ganesh
Between the dhabas and momo shops on the left side of the street as you go from kora café toward the nyingma gompa, up a short flight of stairs is a well kept painted carving of ganesh. locals take off their shoes before touching their head to connect with ganesh’s spirit and receive his blessing.
Take a kora - Walk around the lake
Locals of every stripe take walks around the lake – it is part exercise, part social interaction, part ritual. most go clockwise around the lake – with the lake always to your right side. sometimes you’ll notice the sikhs going in the opposite direction. buddhist do three rounds, three times per day for a total of nine. you will often see tibetan women picking up worms and insects to remove them from harms way. many carry a mala, which they use to keep track of mantras which they chant as they walk around. people often chant om mani padme hum, the mantra of compassion, and om ah hum vajra guru padma siddhi hum, the mantra of padmasambhava, guru rinpoche.
Often they are in groups of 9, 27, or 108. They are always spun in a clockwise direction. Spinning prayer wheels accumulates merit the Buddhist terminology for doing good things that will benefit you in your next life, and you can, if you’re feeling generous, dedicate the merit you accumulate to all sentient beings, which multiplies the merit even more.
Feed the fish
The fish in tso pema lotus lake are among the luckiest in the world. tourists and locals spend rs. 10 and feed them biscuits and crackers and puffed rice all day long. they are well trained, so even the sound of the bell from the temple on the lake in the morning sends them into a frenzy of mouth opening competition to get the most morsels. it is quite a spectacle, and good karma to feed the fish too.
Meditate in Mandarava’s Cave
A hidden gem in rewalsar is mandarava’s cave. just as you pass norbu’s café on the lake side of the road, there is a sign on the next building pointing to the left. down that unassuming alley is a rock with om mani padme hum painted on it, and to the left, there is a notice board and a door. knock on the door, and sometimes you will be rewarded by finding the nun who guards and lives in the cave in a receptive mood. she will usher you in to the cave, and, depending on unknown and unseen forces, will allow you to stay for as long as you like or usher you back out quickly. just sitting for a moment in the cave will give you a sense of mandarava’s power and compassion – one person described it like receiving a warm hug from a loving and caring mother.
Respect the Cow and Tree
Near the hindu temple is a sacred tree, where devotees light candles on special days, and hindus bow and touch their head to the platform surrounding this tree for blessings. around the corner, there are two statues of cows, and also likely to be some live cows as well. all are treated with reverence and respect.
Sometimes there is space along the sides so that you can sit to listen and watch the puja as well. On ceremony days – the 10th, 15th, 25th, and 30th of the lunar calendar, there is often tsok – offerings to deities and enlightened masters of the lineage. They will often give tsok to visitors or have a bin where you may help yourself. Tsok is to be treated with respect – it is thought of as food that was offered to deities, so should be eaten mindfully, and never thrown away if it can be helped. If you cannot eat it for some reason, you can give it to a beggar or feed it to the fish.
Climb to Padmasambhava’s cave
If you enjoy a challenging walk, definitely do the climb to padmasambhava’s cave. it is arduous, but it is very quiet and, during monsoon season, the rushing water of the waterfalls serenades you as you climb up. the path begins behind the statue. instead of going up into the statue, continue up the stairs along the side of the statue. they curve around the back and come up on a road. across the road, some stairs continue upward. keep following the stairs – for the most part, the path is pretty obvious, often it is alongside or even in the river that cascades down during monsoon, or is a dry bed of stones after monsoon season. the locals will always point you in the right direction if you look lost.
Two hours Trekking to Naina Devi temple is an enjoyable experience. On way there are many Buddhist caves and lakes. If the climb seems too daunting then you can take the easy option and jump on a bus all the way up to the caves and Naina Devi Temple above. The bus ride takes about half an hour and departs from from the Rewalsar bus stand.