Gallery: Jiegu before and after the earthquake
Jiegu in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Region, China was hit by a devastating earthquake last week. Jiegu has featured large in my life this last year as I sift through pictures from Tibet on a daily basis, seeking inspirational images for a quotes calendar. This spiritual town is featured in the calendar more than any other place I have photographed. This place for me was special -- from the warmth of the pilgrims at the Jiana Mani shrine to the eager shopkeepers on the high street, the welcoming monks at the monasteries, and the generous picnic goers force feeding us birthday cake in the stunning countryside that surrounds the town.
I look at these photos a little differently now and think with sadness of the people who died and lost people close to them. The hotel where we stayed, the nightclub and even the restaurants we ate in are all gone. But I remain inspired by the way people in Jiegu live in reverence of life, nature, human kindness, even in times of tragedy.
Before the earthquake: Jiegu town, an ancient trading mart between Kham and Amdo on the road to Lhasa. New and old buildings, traditional Tibetan and modern Chinese, crowd the well-watered valleys.
After the earthquake: The scene in Jiegu after the earthquake is of utter devastation.
Before the earthquake: Overlooking Jiegu through the Chortens of the Ga Kye Gu Monastery -- a popular place of worship for Jiegu's Tibetan community.
After the earthquake: Tibetan monks are helping with the relief efforts.
Before the earthquake: The winged horse symbolizes things beautiful and wild celebrated in the horse festivals of the Khampa for which this town is famous. This statue still stands but the buildings around this major intersection are mostly gone.
After the earthquake: The building still standing in the upper left hand corner of this photo can be seen in in the previous photo of the township.
Before the earthquake: Woman sitting outside the markets on Jiegu's main road amid Tibetan mastiffs collars displayed for sale on the motorcycle handles.
After the earthquake: A roadblock stops motorcyclists in Jiegu in anticipation of Hu Jintao's visit on April 18, 2010.
Before the earthquake: A lion placed on a a piece of astro turf in front of Gesar square on Jiegu's main street is a tourist photo opportunity that two young men hoped to exploit.
After the earthquake: Gesar square is now being used as a quake relief camp for survivors.
Before the earthquake: Pilgrims would spin prayer wheels, click rossaries, recite mantras, and add stones carved with prayers as they circumnavigate the Jiana Mani temple -- also known as the world's largest Mani stone pile.
After the earthquake: The Mani stones still remain, but the atmosphere is decidedly different.
Before the earthquake: Tibetan school Children on excursion around Jiana Mani, which is in Xinzhai Village, Yushu County, Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, northwest China's Qinghai Province, a holy world heritage listed site just two miles from Jiegu city.
Before the earthquake: Friends -- both shy and excited as they are singled out by a foreign tourist's camera.
Before the earthquake: Kids take a break from Kora (holy circumnavigations) for a fairy floss break amidst painted mani stones.
After the earthquake: Hunger is now a problem for the children and general population of Jiegu, China.
Before the earthquake: A young monk in Tibetan disco (Nyangmar) in Jiegu waiting outside the stage door for his favorite singer to make his appearance.
Before the earthquake: Women picnic in the Liebu Valley, a short distance from Jiegu town.
Find out how you can help the Jiegu earthquake victims on CNN's Impact Your World.