Jon and I relatively quickly took our leave from Pelling, taking another jeep a couple of hours to Koetchapari Lake. We had had a friend on our study abroad trip who had done her Independent Study Project here, and she had found herself captivated by the Lake, its history and some of the people that she met.
Koetchapari Lake is shaped like a footprint, and the story goes that the Buddhist deity Tara made it. Up on the hills near the lake are caves where she is said to have meditated. This was a magical part of my journey through Nepal and India in 2010.
It was perhaps one of my favorites. Not sure where to stay, Jon and I went immediately to the lakeside, and from there followed some signs up a hill to a little guest house. Rustic is certainly one way to describe it: tiny rooms with little more than thin ply-wood walls, each room with two miniature twin beds and a single naked bulb. But the hosts could not have been friendlier.
Sonam had spent a good part of his youth studying to be a Buddhist priest. He had spent years fasting and meditating in a cave and now was living a lay life, married to a young Japanese woman. He spoke little Japanese or English, and she spoke little Nepali or English, so they did not have much in terms of a common language, and yet in the evenings, their laughter and low voices carried and air of peaceful contentment with them. On our first full day at the Lake, Jon and I made the trek through leech-infested forest up the hill to one of the Tara caves. We returned to find that Sonam was busy collecting ningro (fiddle head ferns) for our dinner – Jon had told him that they were my favorite.
In Sonam, Jon and I found a font of information and wisdom: someone ready to share their experiences seriously following a Buddhist path. Our time here was all but too short. Perhaps later in my life or in another lifetime, I will return to this magical place.