I had a experience a few months ago that sparked my interest in religion. I went on a trip with my grandma to Navoo, a sacred site for the LDS church. I had a wonderful time and thought it was amazing how much it ment to my grandma to go to this holy place. After our trip I started a expidition to travel around the world and vist other religious sites for other religions.
The first stop on my travels was at Amarnath Dham. This cave is found 45 km from Pahalgam and is considered to be the most famous holy shrines of the great God, Shiva in Hinduism. As I was traveling through the cave I noticed some interesting ice formations. When I ask my tour guide about them he explained that it is believed that by the Hindus that the four biggest ice structures represent gods. He went on to explain that the biggest ice structure represents Amarnath, also known as Shiva, a great Hindu God. He is mentioned the book Rajatarangini, the Hindu bible, this is a very sacred place to all who are part of the Hindu religion. One thing that really fascinated me was that there was this really amazing feeling there, It was really a one in a lifetime opportunity. Lastly, I was looking around and saw the Hindu people, and how much it meant to them to get the chance to view this sacred site. This heightened my curiosity in sacred Hindu religious sites and brought me to my next adventure.
Hindu Temple in Veranasi, India
Next up on my travels I stopped in Varanasi, India. This is one of the holiest cities of the hindu religion, it is located off the bank of the Ganges river. This place was absolutely amazing, it is one of the oldest cities in the world and had so many amazing religious sites. However my favorite was the was an ancient hindu temple called mandir, meaning golden temple. The temple is dedicated to the god Shiva who is a great Hindu God. The temple looked really old, the paint was fading and and the stone was chipping away, it literally looked like it was taken from a movie scene. It also was really big and had a structure with a big pillar with a point on the top. After talking to some people people in the city I discovered that one of the biggest reasons Hindus go to see Varanasi to achieve spiritual liberation. The city is famous for cremation ghats, corpses are transported hundreds of miles to be burned here. Also, many relatives bring their families ashes and through them into the Ganges river believing that it will benefit their soul. This was one the most interestings trips I’ve been on and lead me to explore other religious sites for other religions.
My first stop for buddhism was in Bodh Gaya, India also known as place of enlightenment. I was shocked when I saw the giant statue of Buddha, it is ginormous, to me looked like a giant man/woman wearing a robe and sitting crisscross applesauce. I wounderd why this place mest so much to people, but as I was doing some research on the statue and I found out that in the Buddha religion Buddha is believed to be the first person to ever reach spiritual enlightenment. Not only this Bodh Gaya was the place he did it. So that explained why Bodh Gaya is the holiest place in the world for Buddhist. As I saw the rest of the city I noticed a lot of monks and people meditating and saw how much this place ment to Buddhist. After All this was the place where their religion was founded. I grew a great respect for this place and made me want to see more Buddhist religious sites.
The next up on my travels was the Bodhi Tree. The Bodhi Tree is also found in Bodh Gaya, India. The actual Buddha tree is believed to have been cut down but this is a ancestor of the tree. It is a ancient pipal tree located behind the Mahabodhi temple. It is a big tree kept healthy with bright green leaves. I was reading a sign about the history of the tree and found out that Buddha spent seven days under the tree meditating after receiving spiritual enlightenment. There has been thousands if not millions of people who have come to that tree to receive a similar experience of Buddha. The place really had a feeling of peace, it was really a special experience. This was definitely one of the most sacred places I’ve ever been to. I can’t wait for my next opportunity to see another religious site like this one.
The experience I had at The Dome of the Rock was one I won’t forget. It is a huge beautiful structure It has a yellow dome on the top and a blue base with paintings on the bottom. It is a really colorful and interesting.The building was just so unique, I’ve never seen anything like it before. The Dom of the Rock Is extremely sacred to Jews. They believe that that is where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son before being stopped by an angle. It is also located in Jerusalem, which is the holiest city in the world to Jewish people. It was a really fun visit, wouldn't trade it for the world.
The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem is an extremely sacred site to Jewish people. As I was talking to the tour guide he explained that Jerusalem was the place where the original Jewish temple was built. I also learned that that is where they believed that Moses stored the original ten commandments.The temple was destroyed and the Jews visit the wall left to mourn their persecution. When I was there I noticed a lot of people standing by the wall bowing their head. I realized they were praying, I thought it was neat to see how serious and how much it ment to the jewish people to be there. The wall was made of white stone and looked very weathered.
Onto Judaism, the Great Mosque of Mecca also called the Grand Mosque is located in Saudi Arabia. It is the largest mosque in the world. In the center of the Mosque there is a Qibla, Muslims are required to face during prayer. This place is huge, I was shocked by the overall size of the structure, it covers 88.2 acres. One thing I noticed is that the mosque is built around a islam temple. The reason why this place is holy to Muslims is because they are required to make a pilgrimage there at least once in their lifetime. I thought it was awesome how they held a daily prayer called “salat” in the mosque daily as well. It was definitely a unique experience
The next stop on my journey was in Najaf, Iraq Where I visited the Iman Ali. This building was amazing, it appears to made mostly out of gold. It is a large structure and has two big parallel pillars. There is also a lot of beautiful artwork on the inside. After having a conversation with Muslim leader I discovered that this is the place where Ali is barred, the brother of Muhammad. So that is why this place is so sacred to Muslims, I actually saw one lady crying when we were walking through the Mosque. This is a really special place to Muslims, and I will never forget it.
I next traveled to Calvary, which is just outside of Jerusalem. I didn’t think to much of Calvary because it seemed to be overshadowed by Jerusalem, however one really important thing happened there. I learned that Christians believe that Calvary was the place where Jesus Christ was crucified. Calvary is mostly desert with very few ruins, but is still considered very sacred to Christians. Jesus’s crucifixion is at the heart of the christian religion making Calvary a sacred site. Probably about half my group was crying when we got to the place they believed Jesus was crucified. This place was really special to christians, and definitely was a wonderful experience.
My final visit was to Mount Nebo, Mount Nebo is located in an elevated ridge in Jordan. When I went there I was blown away by how beautiful it was, it had to be the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. There was little vegetation, but the view was amazing. This place is viewed as one of the most sacred places to Christians according to my tour guide. It is where God showed Moses the promised land in the bible. I loved the opportunity I had to come and visit this and all the other sacred places on my journey.