Have you ever been to Jesus' tomb? Kabba? These places are sacred sights of different religions- sacred for different reasons. While these places may not seem the awe inspiring to you, to some religions, these places are some of the most amazing places on Earth. I have traveled to different places to see some of these sites so I could tell you about them. I visited Jesus' tomb, Kabba, Dwarka, Lumbini, and Varanasi so I could blog my experiences for you and tell you about some of these amazing places.
On June 3rd, 2015, I visited the Church of Holy Sepulcher, which is located in Jerusalem and is a sacred site for people of the Christian faith. Church is a place where Christians attend every week, normally on Sundays, to listen to a service. However, this church is above all others because is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus, making it a very important pilgrimage site to Christians. It is also known as the Church of Resurrection. It stands on a site that is believed to encompass Golgotha, which the New Testament in the Bible proclaims as the place where Jesus was buried and rose again. There's many cool things to see inside the church, if you ever get to visit; inside the entrance to your left was the high bench where the Muslim doorkeeper sat: for years, a Muslim kept control of the keys to the church to prevent disputes between Christian sects over the holy site. That no longer happens in modern day, but the bench still remains in place. Inside the entrance to the church is the Stone of Unction, which commemorates the preparation of Jesus' body for burial. The limestone slab goes back to 1808, because the original was destroyed. Although this hasn't been confirmed as the site one hundred percent, it's still a very interesting place to visit, and important to people of this religion. On my second day, I took a fun day to myself, looking at shops, but on the third I went to look at the Bible Lands museum, and on the fourth I went to look at the Mount of olives, but on my fifth day I took another chill day and went to the Sheyan restaurant for dinner.
How about killing two bird with one stone? I was planning on going somewhere else for my next Judaism site, but some locals informed me about the Western Wall, and I couldn't resist. I stayed in Jerusalem for another five days so I could check out the Western Wall, because this is very important to the town. Part of a vast retaining wall built by Herod around the Temple Mount, this is the most visible structure remaining from the Second Temple complex. (Oops- I should've noticed). According to most people, Judaism's great legacy to the world is spiritual, but the massive stones of the Wall are testimony to the physical mark of the ancient Jewish culture. Over the centuries, this enduring fragment of The Temple complex has come to symbolize the indestructible attachment of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. For more than 1,000 years, under Islamic governments, the Wall was the closest point that Jews were permitted to approach to the place where the ancient Temple of Jerusalem once stood. Because of the sanctity of the Temple Mount itself, very observant Jews do not go farther than the Wall to this day. While Christian and Judaism people see this as a holy city, it turns out Muslims also do as well. I spent my first (technically sixth day there) and spent the rest of my time sightseeing since I had ran around Jerusalem while I was looking at the Church.
On July 17th, I arrived at the Kaaba. The Kaaba is a building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and is important to the Islamic faith. The Kaaba is also referred as Al Kaaba Al Musharrafah. The Kaaba means cube in Arabic, hence the giant cube. It is a square building elegantly draped in a silk and cotton veil. In Islam, Muslims pray five times a day and these prayers were directed towards Mecca (another place of worship) and the Kaaba. All Muslims aspire to undertake the hajj, or the annual pilgrimage, to the Kaaba once in their lives if they are able to travel there. Upon arriving in Mecca, the people gather in the courtyard of the Masjid al-Haram around the Kaaba. They then walk around the Kaaba, during which they hope to kiss and touch the Black Stone—al-Hajar al-Aswad—embedded in the eastern corner of the Kaaba. Many modifications have been made, but the major one was carried out during the 1950s by the government of Saudi Arabia to accommodate the increasingly large number of people who come on the hajj. Today the mosque covers almost 40 acres. The Kaaba is fifteen meters tall and ten and a half meters on each side. It also has a solid gold door that was added in 1982. Only Muslims may visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina today. I visited Saudi Arabia partially for the Kaaba and partially to visit one of my friends in Mecca. We hung out for the second and third day, and then on my fourth she took me to see a cave called Hira, and on my fifth we checked out the Birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, which honestly didn't intrigue me as much as the Kaaba.
I arrived in Dwarka, India’s one of the oldest city, on August 1st. It has significant importance due to religious places in the city. It is also included in the list of seven most holy places of India for Hindu followers. There are various temples situated in the city like Rukmini Temple, Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, Sri Dwarkanath and others. I can't say any of these names either, so bear with me. According to old tradition, the original temple was believed to have been built by Krishna's grandson, Vajranabha, over the hari-griha (Lord Krishna's residential place). The temple became part of the Char Dham pilgrimage considered sacred by Hindus in India, after Adi Shankaracharya, the 8th century Hindu theologian and philosopher, visited the shrine. The other three being comprising Shringeri, Badrkashram and Puri. Even today a memorial within the temple is dedicated to his visit. Dwarakadheesh is the 108th Divya Desam of Lord Vishnu on the subcontinent, glorified in the Divya Prabandha sacred texts. The city itself isn't the sacred site, but more so the cool places in it. I stayed in the city, and spent the first day sightseeing. Then I visited the Dwarka temple the next day, and then for the rest of my days, I ended up at the Dwarka beach. Sorry guys, but the beach is my true love!