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Guru Padmasambhava

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Kashmir is a scenic land of tranquil beauty. A longstanding dispute over control of the region ensures that life for Kashmiris is anything but tranquil. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir, and a fortified Line of Control separates forces. China also administers part of the region. Two wars have been fought between Pakistan and India since borders were drawn in 1947, and the predominately Muslim area chafes under Indian control. In August mass graves were disclosed that likely held the bodies of "disappeared" civilians killed during insurgencies years ago. The disclosure was one of a series of incidents which keeps the region tense. The political dispute and attendant violence disturbs what should otherwise be a culturally vibrant, lushly beautiful idyll. Collected here are images from the last several months in Kashmir, a region of roughly twelve and a half million people. -- Lane Turner (47 photos total)
Indian tourists enjoy a traditional Shikara boat ride on Dal Lake in Srinagar, India on July 7, 2011. (Mukhtar Khan/AP)

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Summer weather brings people together outside to enjoy music festivals, county fairs, carnivals and religious observations. I've gathered here some recent images of these celebrations, including a flaming horseman in Kyrgyzstan, Bastille Day in France, a German fun park inside a former nuclear power plant, and much more. [39 photos]

A girl on her father's shoulders looks through a maze of sunflowers growing in a field during a three-day sunflower festival in the town of Nogi, Tochigi prefecture, north of Tokyo, on July 24, 2011. A total of some 200,000 sunflowers welcomed guests for the summer festival, an annual draw for the small town. (Kazuhuro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images)

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