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Poverty. Riches. The world's largest democracy. An ancient caste system. Bollywood. India is a land of contrasts, a booming new power that remains baffling to outsiders and insiders alike. The Shiva Rules is a year-long GlobalPost series that decodes the many mysteries of India's uneven rise in the 21st century.

India shiva kashmir himalaya pilgrimage 2012 01 27
The first batch of Hindu devotees ride horses or trek as they leave Chandanwari, 115 kilometers southeast of Srinagar, during the annual Hindu pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath on June 29, 2011. (Tauseef Mustafa/AFP/Getty Images)

Video: Trekking to Shiva at any cost

Shiva Rules: 650,000 pilgrims were expected at Shiva's shrine in 2011, threatening the surrounding landscape.