Day 1- Monday, January 1st Christianity
Today I started my adventure in the city of Jerusalem. I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This church has two of the holiest sites in Christianity, the place of both the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. Many Christians will make pilgrimages to this holy site sometime in their life time. All of the architectural development was based on the site of the crucifixion and the tomb of Christ. Other points of lesser significance are the grotto now known as the Prison of Christ and St Helena’s crypt. The church has 3 domes and can hold 8,000 people. It is built with Romanesque and Baroque architectural styles. These styles include large pillars and towers, domes, thick walls, and decorative arcading, which are all represented in Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Overall this was a really great experience getting to see one of the most important sites in Christianity!
Day 2- Monday, January 2nd Judaism
It's day two of my world religion adventure! Today I visited the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. The Temple Mount is actually a holy site for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. It is the holiest site in Judaism, which regards it as the place where God's divine presence is manifested more than in any other place. According to the rabbinic sages, it was from here where the world expanded into its present form and where God gathered the dust used to create the first human. It contains the lower platform, which has gardens, an Islamic school, an ablution fountain, and many cisterns(they collects rain water as a water supply). The temple mount also contains the Dome of the Rock, which is a shrine located on the Temple Mount. It's significance stems in part from religious traditions regarding the rock, known as the Foundation Stone, at its heart, which has great significance for Jews as the site of Abraham's attempted sacrifice of his son. Its architecture and paintings were patterned after Byzantine churches and palaces nearby. This type of architecture has geometric complexity, mosaics, and complex domes on top of massive piers.
Day 3 - Thursday, January 5th Islam
I traveled for 2 days and I am now in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Today I am focusing on the Islamic religion. Mecca is the birthplace of Muhammad and the site of Muhammad's first revelation of the Quran. It is regarded as the holiest city in the Islam religion. Also a pilgrimage to Mecca is obligatory to all able Muslims. Mecca is also home to the Holy Mosque, which is the holiest mosque in the world and the primary destination of the Mecca pilgrimage. The mosque has gone through many rebuilds but still continues to be a sacred place for Muslims. The Holy Mosque contains traditional Islamic architectural features, including minarets(towers), qubba(domes), and sahn(courtyards). The pilgrimage to Mecca is called the Hajj, which is when several million people of varying nationalities worship in unison. Overall it was really neat to see the city of Mecca and see the Holy Mosque.
Day 4 - Saturday, January 7th Hinduism
The next stop on my travels was to the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and the spiritual capital of India. Varanasi is a city on the banks of the Ganges in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India. According to legend, Varanasi was founded by the god Shiva, who is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. While I was in Varanasi, I visited the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is one of the most famous Hindu temples and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganga, and is the holiest of Shiva temples. The Temple has been referred to in Hindu Scriptures for a long time and is a central part of worship in the Shaiva( a branch of Hinduism) philosophy. It has been destroyed and re-constructed a number of times in the history of it. The temple complex consists of a series of smaller shrines, the main temple is a quadrangle and is surrounded by shrines of other gods, there is a small well in the temple called the Jnana Vapi, it is also spelled as Gyaan vapi (the wisdom well). The structure of the temple is composed of three parts. The first compromises a spire(pyramidal structure) on top of the temple of Lord Vishwanath or Mahadeva. The second is gold dome and the third is the gold spire atop the Vishwanath carrying a flag and a trident. The temple is widely recognized as one of the most important places to worship in the Hindu religion. Overall it was very fascinating to see the temple and the sacred city of Varanasi.
Day 5 - Monday, January 9th Buddhism
Today is the last day of my world religion adventure. I am currently in Lumbini, Nepal at the Maya Devi Temple. The temple is a site traditionally considered the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. Lumbini is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in the Rupandehi District of Nepal. The holy site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone in which only monasteries can be built, no shops, hotels or restaurants. Lumbini remained neglected for centuries. In 1895, Feuhrer, a famous German archaeologist, discovered the great pillar while wandering the foothills of the Churia range. Upon further exploration and excavation of the surrounding area revealed the existence of a brick temple and a sandstone sculpture within the temple itself which depicts the scenes of the Buddha's birth. Recently, several really pretty shrines have been built by devotees from Buddhist countries. These temples and shrines have a very geometric shape to them and usually have pillars on them. A visit to Lumbini is not only for spiritual enlightenment but also for solace and satisfaction that one gets in such a calm and peaceful place. This was a perfect place to end my adventure.