I go to church all the time. So does my family. Every sunday, and even throughout the week we´re always there. That got me wondering, is it like this for everyone else? I wanted to find out how other religions ¨churches¨ worked, so I decided to find out.
Grace Avenue UMC, aka my church
I figured I would start off with finding out a sacred site for Judaism, seeing as it was kind of what Christianity came from. So I went to Israel, the Holy Land. I booked a flight for Friday morning and I was off to see what I could.
Israel celebrates it´s reunification
Israel is known as the ¨promise land¨, which is the land that God promised Abraham and all his children. I visited the Temple of Jerusalem, now known as The Dome of the Rock, which was the center of worship and national identity in ancient Israel. It's made of multiple structures on top of the Temple Mount in Old Jerusalem. It was a huge tourist attraction, and has lots of history behind it. Construction of the Second Temple (the first being destroyed by Shoshenq I, Pharaoh of Egypt at the time) was authorized by Cyrus the Great and began in 538 BCE, after the fall of the Babylonian Empire the year before. It was completed 23 years later, and was almost destroyed several times. Whenever the Greeks took control of Jerusalem, the temple transformed into a temple for the Greek gods. The Jews were obviously upset about this, and took back the temple in 167 BCE. Around 20 BCE, the building was renovated and expanded by Herod the Great, and became known as Herod's Temple. It was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE during the Siege of Jerusalem. Emperor Julian rebuilt it, but in 363 CE there was an earthquake that kept all remaining attempts from rebuilding it. After the Muslim conquest of Jerusalem in the 7th century, they rebuilt it as an Islamic shrine. It's been standing there since 691 CE. I didn't realize it was actually an Islamic shrine until I has already gotten there, so maybe next time I should do more research. But it's still a very significant place in Judaism regardless.
While I was there I saw the Western Wall, the only part of the second temple that's left. It's recognized as one of the most important pieces of architecture in Judaism, and it was really beautiful.
I was so intrigued by the Islamic/Jewish temple that I decided to travel somewhere else sacred to the Islamic faith. So I went to the Holy City of Mecca, where every Muslim has to travel once in their life if they're able to.
Mecca is known as the birthplace of Muhammad, and as the site of Muhammad's first revelation of the Quran, So it's known as the holiest city. More than 15 million Muslims visit the city every year, and over 2 million live there. Technically non-Muslims aren't allowed in the city, but somehow I still got in. Kinda weird.
Next, I traveled to India to see what's regarded as the most famous piece of Islamic architecture ever, the Taj Mahal. It was created as a monument to Mumtaz Mahal, the third and favorite wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. It was probably my favorite place I visited out of all of them, because the beauty was just breathtaking. The huge ceilings and wide room, it was just incredible.
While I was India, I thought I would stop by the most sacred river there, the Ganges River. It's believed that when you bathe in the river, you're cleansed of all sins. The river is the personification of the goddess Gaṅgā. I had the opportunity to bathe in it, and lets just say it was an eye opening experience in a lot of ways. It was a very cool experience though, and I would happily do it again if I had the chance.
Next I went to the Virupaksha Temple in Southern India, 350 km away from Bangalore. It's a temple dedicated to the god Shiva, who is the ultimate god of destruction, regeneration, rebirth, and death. I can see why they would build a giant temple to this guy. This place was so beautiful, it's definitely going to be my lockscreen for the next few months.
Next I went to Bodh Gaya, the place where the Buddha got enlightenment. As the legend goes, he gave his last lesson to five men under The Bodhi Tree, and then died and achieved Enlightenment. Ever since then, every Buddhist strives for Enlightenment their whole lives. This is the holiest of the four main pilgrimage sites, and
Mahabodi Temple, which is a temple that signifies the Buddhas Enlightenment, is one of the most sacred temples in Buddhism. Thousands of people come here every year to pay homage to the Buddha.
The River Jordan was the place where Jesus was baptized, and where the Sacrament of Baptism in Christianity started. Many people regard this as a very holy place, and lots of people come to visit and see it for themselves.
The Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the best examples of gothic style architecture we have today. It's a Catholic Cathedral was built in 1163, and has been a tourist stop for not only Christians, but for everyone else all over the world for centuries.
This was the best trip I've ever been on in my entire life. I hope everyone gets to be able to do something like this once in their life, because it's so eyeopening. Until next time, have a great day guys.