Story and Photos by Lee Daley. The spiritual capital of India, Varanasi rests on the most sacred stretch of the Ganges. Sanctified by Shiva’s eternal presence, the “City of Light” is foremost among the 12 sites where the god burrowed and then burst into the atmosphere in a brilliant column of light. Leading up from the river, about 87 broad steps known as ghats are backed by a cliff-like array of temples, shrines and towers. Because Varanasi is situated along the western bank of the Ganges with the river flowing south to north, daybreak dawns dramatically to the east where fields and trees embrace the first light of day. As the sun rises, it casts a golden glow on the holy waters and the bathing ghats, eventually warming the temples and shrines above the steps while the sky shifts color from pink to purple to blue.
Story and Photos by Lee Daley. Dharamsala came to light on the world map in 1959 when His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet and subsequently established his “government in exile” there. Upwards of 100,000 Tibetan exiles have since settled in Dharamsala with most of them living in the village of McLeod Ganj near the higher elevation of the city. Also known as a hill station, Dharamsala’s name means “spiritual dwelling,” because it originated as a resting place for trekkers on pilgrimage.