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Frames from the distant past

October 29, 2007

Hindu, India
27 October 2007

RICH HISTORY: A photograph by Benoy K. Behl from his collection "The Monasteries of Rinchen Zangpo in Tibet and India".

NEW DELHI: Showcasing monasteries in all their ethereal splendour is the ongoing photo exhibition titled "The Monasteries of Rinchen Zanpo in Tibet and India" at India International Centre here.

On display are 80 photographs taken by art historian-cum-photographer Benoy K. Behl, who travelled to Tibet, Ladakh, Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur documenting what is left of the legendary 108 monasteries built by

Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055).

For the first time, the original chain of monasteries that were established across Western Tibet, Ladakh, Spiti and Kinnaur will be comprehensively depicted in an exhibition. These monasteries are the foundation of

Buddhism that survives in Tibet and the Indian trans-Himalayas till today.

Behl says that in the middle of barren stretches and vast bleak mountains, these monasteries were made on small and fertile patches of land, in the valleys of rivers that flow through trans-Himalayas. "Entering these

structures, one comes into a world of painted splendour. The sculptures and paintings that were made in these monasteries are among the most sophisticated and finest of all times," he adds.

Often Behl had to travel on horseback or climb uphill for long distances where there was no road. In some monasteries, such as Range-rig-rste in an upper part of Kinnaur he is the only person who has taken

photographs of the art inside.

These monasteries and the mandalas inside them were made on the basis of scriptures which their founder Rinchen Zangpo had studied in Kashmir. Zangpo became famous as the Lhotsava or the Great Translator of

Sanskrit Buddhist manuscripts into Tibetan.

These legendary 108 monasteries had wall paintings and scriptures made inside them by Kashmiri artists.

The exhibition is on till Tuesday.
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