Ganga River, India On March 26, 2016 I visited the Hindu holy site of the Ganga River. The river is personified as the goddess Ganga in the Hindu religion. There was prayers being sung from early in the morning to late at night. Bright colors, crowds, and food were everywhere. The water is to be very pure and that is why many bathe in the river to rid themselves of impurities. Hinduism as a whole believes in one overall being (Ishvara) who is in everything and everywhere, most importantly in one's soul. Ishvara is represented through many forms each representing a certain attribute. The three main gods being Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Important goddesses are Durga, Saraswati, Laxshmi and Paravati. The stories of all the gods and goddesses are written in holy texts called Puranas. Ishvra also comes in the form of human beings on earth, called Avatars. Two important holy texts depicting the stories of avatars are the Raamayan and the Maha Bharat. However, when it comes to beliefs and the sole Ishvara, the four Vedas are the most valued holy texts. Some core beliefs include karma, reincarnation and purification of the soul (sometimes through the body with yoga). Hinduism is a religion based on cosmetic energy and universal order - this incorporates a lot of science and math into the religion.
Borobudur Temple, Indonesia After spending a month in India, I went to Java, Indonesia on May 30, 2016. This is the most famous and largest Buddhist temple in the world. While visiting this temple, I was emerged in a tranquil, serene setting where everything was peaceful. The temple was made over the span of 75 years in the 8 and 9 century by the kingdom of Sailendra. It was abandoned in the 14th century. The architecture was amazing with intricate designs in the stone and large statues of Buddha. Some background of this religion - Siddhartha Gautama was the prince of an Indian kingdom who lived a very posh life. When he stepped out of his palace he saw the sufferings of the world. He then decided to go to the forest and meditate. That is where he got the name Buddha and is why he is often depicted under a banyan tree. His ideology soon spread throughout East Asia. The core beliefs of this religion is that suffering is a basis of life and is connected to material life. This religion takes the concepts from Hinduism without the cast system.
Great Synagogue, Jerusalem On June 17, 2016, I visited the Great Synagogue, a Jewish sacred site. In the heart of the city, this building had its own feeling with a certain calmness and peaceful mood. Built in 1923 by the city's chief rabbis, it one the most famous synagogues today.
Badshahi Mosque, Pakistan After two weeks in Jerusalem, I headed to Lahore, Pakistan. This an experience was nothing like I've ever experienced before. The sights and sounds were phenomenal, there was meat grilling, bright colors and loud noises that flooded your senses. In addition to all these, during certain times of the day, there was an announcement from the mosque, called Azaan, telling everyone that it is time for their daily prayers.
St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City After Pakistan, I went to a major Christianity location, Vatican city. At St. Peter's Basilica, I felt as though I have taken a step through time. The paintings, sculptures and architecture were stunning and truly like nothing I have seen before. This church is one of the largest in the worlds and is in the Renaissance style.