INDIA. Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar.
1999. Saffron harvesting. An acre yeilds only a few pounds of the
world’s most costly spice. Lush fields and placid lakes once drew more
than half a million visitors a year, but civil unrest has shattered
Kashmir’s calm and left tourism in shambles. By Steve McCurry

Prabalgad Fort (also known as Kalavantin Durg) is located between Matheran and Panvel in the Indian state of Maharashtra, at an elevation of 2,300 feet in the Western Ghats. It was built at the pinnacle of a rocky plateau very close to Matheran. The fort can be approached via a chillingly steep climb. The steps leading up to the fort were cut into the rock of the hill. There are no safety rails on the edge and no ropes on the wall to grab on to.

Phurba (dagger), late 15th century
The ritual dagger (Sanskrit: kila; Tibetan: phurba) is essential to the dispelling of evil and understood as being especially helpful in neutralizing the forces that impede Tantric Buddhist practice. Its origins are ancient, appearing in the Indian Rg Veda as the central blade of the vajra that Indra used to slay the primordial cosmic snake Vritra. Its Sanskrit term, kila, which means peg or stake, was probably linked to Vedic sacrifices. The three-headed Vajrakila Buddha is invoked through meditation on the Vajrakila Tantra, an early Indian text first propagated in Tibet in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, one of the founding masters of Tibetan Buddhism. In this phurba, a half-vajra projects from Vajrakila’s chignon, and a fully elaborated vajra serves as the hilt, below which project boars’ heads. Rock crystal, valued for its purity and ability to transmit light, is a prized material in this context and thus seen as analogous to the Buddha’s dharma and its immutable higher reality. Along with examples in meteoritic iron, rock-crystal phurba are regarded as the most efficacious in the destruction of obstacles to enlightenment.