Recently, very fortunate circumstances (*cough*,*winning the lottery*,*cough*) allowed me the opportunity to visit the main country of Judaism, Israel. In Israel I was able to see great sights such as the Sea of Galilee, but I also saw many religious sights during a tour of The Old City Of Jerusalem. The Western Wall was one of the first religious site that I saw and what it is is an old limestone wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. I learned that the main reason that the Western Wall is considered holy is due to its connection to Temple Mount. The Wall's connection to Temple Mount is that it was the closest wall to the temple out of the four to the original temple. The Wall is the holiest place where Jews get to pray. After looking around for a while, I saw another religious sight was The Mount of Olives, which is to the east of the city of Jerusalem. According to signs, The Mount Of Olives separates the Holy City from the Judean Desert. The sign also stated that based on Jewish Tradition, The Mount is believed to be where the resurrection of the dead will begin when the Messiah arrives. After seeing those two sights of the Judaism Religion, I decided to look at the nearby sights of the Islamic Religion which were also in the same area because it originated from the city of Jerusalem.
Because I was at the Old City of Jerusalem, there were also some famous Islamic sites that I was able to tour. One of the sites that I got a tour of was The Dome of The Rock. The Dome of The Rock is an old shrine located on Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. At its core, it is one of the oldest examples of Islamic Architecture. According to some Islamic scholars, the rock is the spot that the prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. After the tour of the shrine, I saw that a tour was starting for one of the other sites. Seeing the opportunity, I tagged along with the tour group. The tour that I tagged along was for the Al-Aqsa Mosque. On the tour, I learned that the Islamic Tradition holds that Muhammad led prayers towards this site until the seventeenth month after the emigration. The tour guide also talked about how the architecture of the mosque reflected early Islamic architecture. The tour guide explained that the religious significance of the mosque was that it was believed to be the second prayer house constructed after the Masjid al-Haram in Mecca. After the tour concluded, I learned that the religion of Christianity also originated from this city, so I decided to find a place to stay overnight and tour some Christian sites the next day.
After spending a night at a nearby inn, I spent the morning trying to find a site of the Christian Religion in the area(Old City of Jerusalem). After spending the morning searching, I found a site that caught my interest. The site that I had found was the Church of Holy Sepulchre. According to the informative signs placed around the area, the church was the site of Golgotha where Jesus was historically crucified. This piece of information was very interesting to me because I realized that I had never actually known where Jesus was crucified. Inside the church, there a was a symbolic statue of Mary with a silver dagger going through her chest which symbolized Jesus' death. In relation to Jesus, I also saw was the Church of St.John the Baptist. Saint John was best known for baptizing Jesus upon his ordainment of Christianity. While the church itself did not have many interesting sites, the surrounding area was picturesque. A site near to the church is Mary's spring which is believed to be the place that Mary met the mother of St.John. Old Christian Pilgrims used to frequent to the springs to drink the blessed water. After looking at the surrounding area, I decided to head back to the airport to travel and visit my family in Asia.
tAfter taking care of some family business, I decided to go to Nepal to see some of the sites of the religion of Buddhism. After asking the locals about where any religious sites were, I went to the Rupandehi District of Nepal to see the Buddhist pilgrimage site, Lumbini. According to the locals in the area, this is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who achieved Enlightenment around 528 BCE. In other words, this is where the religion of Buddhism originated. Looking around, I saw that Lumbini consists of a number of temples and there was holy pond in the middle where Gautama took his first bath. After seeing that religious site, I took a plane to India to the Gaya district for two reason. One reason was because I wanted to go to Bodh Gaya, and second because Hinduism was the next religion I wanted to see and it is centered around India. Anyways, locals told me that Bodh Gaya was where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment under what became known as the Bodhi Tree. Bodh Gaya is the most important of the four pilgrimage sights related to the life of Gautama, and it's a part of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. After taking a tour of the area, I decided to explore the site of Hinduism as I was already in the area.
Being in the area(India), I decided to explore the sites of Hinduism. I took part on a tour, and the first site that we visited was Chota Char Dham, located in the Indian Himalayas. Translated, the name means the four small abodes, and it is an important Hindu pilgrimage circuit. We visited the four sites that it consists of which were Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath, and Badrinath. While each site is unique, being part of a circuit caused them to be viewed together. In Hindu tradition, the order of the sites you visit should be the way it is listed above. After seeing that site, I decided to go visit the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha, India. Like the name says, the temple was made to honor the Sun God, Surya. The temple is in the shape of a giant ornamented chariot that belonged to the Sun God. The history of the temple is that it was made based on an original temple that was created because a sage advised Samba, the son of Krishna to worship the Sun God to cure his leprosy. After seeing that site, I decided it was time to head back home to spend some of the money I had left over from winning the lottery. So at the airport, I booked a first class flight back to Texas to hopefully start my organization that would teach people about how religious sites should be preserved and admired.