Sense of Earth The Adventures of Viha Vishwanathan

July 1 2016: I started off my travels with a stop at the biggest Hindu temple in the world: Angkor Wat, located in Cambodia. This temple is actually verified as the largest religious structure in the world (by UNESCO). The complex isn't actually one large building, it is several smaller temples spread across a lot of land. Some history about the area is that it was originally dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is one of the main gods of Hinduism, but later is transformed into a buddhist complex. Historians think that it's also a mausoleum, like the Taj Mahal, but it also doubles as a temple. This is also a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists. As I was walking around this majestic area, I felt like I was melting because it was the middle of summer and it was SO HOT. When I look back and remember how much my feet ached, I just remember the beautiful ponds in between the great temples, the sculptures, and the carvings. It truly is a peaceful place, and even if you do not follow that faith, I can almost guarantee a deeper spiritual connection with your inner self.

This is one of the hundreds of temples at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Fun Fact: The entire complex is 500 acres.

July 2 2016: Today was pretty uneventful; I left Cambodia and journeyed to the Mahabodhi, located in Bodh Gaya, India. I left the airport and rested in the hotel for the evening, and then planned what I was going to do tomorrow.

July 3 2016: I woke up bright and early in the morning to head to Mahabodhi, which is a Buddhist Stupa, and means Great Enlightenment. This is located in India. This name was given to this stupa because this was where Gautama Buddha (the leader of this religion) gained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. About 250 years after he gained enlightenment, Emperor Asoka built a temple at that spot. It's really old, and dates back somewhere between the 5th and 6th century. This structure is built entirely in brick, and has significant influence on other structures of the time. The main structure is 50 meters tall, and is surrounded by several smaller temples as well as, of course, Bodhi trees. It has the same build as a regular Hindu temple but it isn't. Strolling the grounds of this was enlightening, and the temple itself was filled with artifacts and scriptures that were so interesting to me.

The Mahabodhi temple was surrounded with beautiful trees and had amazing architecture.

July 4 2016: Happy Independance Day to all my americans! Today I traveled to Israel, hoping to see some sacred sites. Today was mainly filled with traveling again, so I'll try not to bore you to death.

July 5 2016: Today I traveled to Jerusalem and visited the Western Wall. This is a very historical and sacred sites for Jews because it was one of the few walls that the romans didn't attack and has been standing for centuries. Throughout history that has been a spot for Jews to come and pray, and it has been known as the wall with ears. It is sacred because it is the last remnant of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It was originally about 90 feet tall but has sunken to 60 feet over the years, and is one of the most magnificent structures in Jerusalem. Another significant thing about the architecture is that it used to be the outside wall for the Holy Temple. People travel from all over the world to offer their prayers to loved ones, and it was very interesting to see people from all walks of life coming together to pray.

The Western Wall in Jerusalem is a prayer place for Jews all over the world.

July 6 2016: Today I visited Kaaba which is a building in the middle of Islam's most sacred mosque in Makkah. An interesting fact about this structure is that it has been reconstructed up to 12 times. It has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times, but a significant fact about the architecture is that as it is being reconstructed people still pray around it. People who complete the pilgrimage to the Kaaba have to go around the building 7 times in a counterclockwise direction, which was very cool to observe. Whenever muslims pray, they face towards the Kaaba.

At the Kaaba, devoted muslims move around it in a counterclockwise direction 7 times.

July 7 2016: Today I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. This is said to be the place where Jesus (the main figure of the religion and the son of God) was crucified, which is why it is important to Christians. An important part about the architecture is that there is a cross at the very top of the church, and this is there to represent it reaching up to heaven.

This is said to be the place where Jesus was crucified over Adam's skull, and the cross at the top represents reaching up to heaven.

Credits:

Created with images by skeeze - "world earth planet" • MartinFuchs - "cambodia angkor wat temple complex" • u07ch - "Wailing Wall / Western Wall" • Al Fassam - "Kaaba" • Chadica - "View of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre"

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