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Foreign Briefing: Light show in Delhi

Also: Touring Virgin Mary sites in Israel.

January 23, 2011

1. India

Delhi, a city dripping with history, has long been accused of all but ignoring its world-class archaeological legacy. It's not unusual to walk around a corner in the Indian capital and find people encamped in a minor 1,000-year-old monument.

In a bid to better showcase the beautiful Purana Qila fort, Delhi unveiled a sound and light show earlier this month that uses three high-intensity projectors, laser technology and a state-of-the-art sound system to transport viewers back in time.

Dating to the 16th century, Purana Qila was the sixth of seven cities built on Delhi's foundation and the site where President George W. Bush addressed the nation during his 2006 visit. The former city acquired a reputation as an unlucky site after the reigns of three of its rulers living within the walls were cut short and Emperor Humayun (1508-1556) died after falling down its stairs. During the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, it briefly was a refugee camp.

The new show, India's first permanent son et lumiere art installation, digitally maps images of the city's rich history onto the building's gates, alcoves, parapets and stairs, much like the "Lights of Liberty" show in Philadelphia. "I wanted to tell the story of Delhi in a way never seen before," said Himanshu Sabharwal, the show's creative director.

The show had to overcome some last-minute snafus as different agencies reportedly tussled over the script and some of the show's dance and music numbers. "Historians — it's their nature," Sabharwal said. "They never agree."

But it all came together in time for the Jan. 10 opening.

There are two shows each night in Hindi and English. The cost is $1.80 for adult foreigners. During winter, the English-language show starts at 8 p.m., but this will likely be adjusted as the sun sets later.

— Mark Magnier

2. Australia

Devastating floods in Queensland state have been flushing toxic, pesticide-laden sediment into the Great Barrier Reef, the World Wildlife Fund said. The sediment "will have a disastrous impact" on the fragile corals and likely a "significant impact" on turtles and other marine life in the area, which is a major tourist attraction, the conservation organization said.

— Reuters

3. Russia

Russia will start selling multimillion-dollar tourist tickets to the International Space Station again in 2013 after a four-year hiatus, the U.S.-based company that organizes the trips said. Space Adventures said it would offer three 10-day trips a year to the orbital station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

— Reuters

4. Israel

Tourists can retrace the footsteps of the Virgin Mary using a new itinerary developed by Israel's Tourism Ministry. Stops include Mary's birthplace near Nazareth in northern Israel, Mary's Spring and the Tomb of the Virgin near Jerusalem, and Bethlehem and other sites on the West Bank. (Click on "Christian Interest.")

— Associated Press

5. Argentina

A new Buenos Aires museum on the Beatles includes a check signed by Ringo Starr, a brick from the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England, where the Fab Four musicians played, concert programs and a host of other memorabilia. The museum draws from more than 8,500 objects collected by Rodolfo Vazquez, a Beatles fan.

— Associated Press

Caution spots

The State Department recently issued warnings or alerts for these areas:

Nepal, because of the continuing possibility of political demonstrations and unrest and because of concerns about travel by road and air.

Tunisia, because of the current political and social unrest.

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