Zanskar is in the Himalayas in the far north of India, and one of the remotest monasteries in this region is the Phukthar Monastery (aka Phuktal monastery), which is featured in this collection of 5 films by India in Motion. It was shot during 2020, after the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, which, as we learn, has even affected such a remote monastery.
The monastery is built around a large cave, where it is believed one of the early disciples of the Buddha, Tulden, dwelt in ancient times. The modern monastery was founded by Changsem Sherap Zangpo around the 16th century and belongs to the Gelug (Yellow Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.
The first of these short films details the history of the cave and the subsequent monastery; the second looks at the daily routine at the monastery; the third looks more closely at the lives of the novices; the fourth at the difficulties of the environment, and the fifth and last of the series (which only lasts just over an hour) looks at the biggest monastic festival during the year: the Monlam festival, which takes place around the New Year.
The video photography is very high quality, and it also includes some drone footage, which adds to our understanding of the environment. The narration is simple but effective and appreciative of the special qualities that the author sees at the monastery. A lot of the information comes via an interview with the Senior Lama Khenpo Tenzin Dawa, who is very articulate.
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