Religions Around the World A look inside sacred centers

February 1st- Today I landed in Uttarakhand, India to take a look at Hinduism. From their I got a taxi to one of the many Hindu temples in India. It was very big and open. It was a symmetry driven structure, on a square like grid surrounding the temple. It depicted perfect geometric shapes such as circles and squares. Then from there I got another taxi to the town of Badrinath, where the sacred site, the Badrinath temple is. When I got to the temple I met someone outside who just so happened to also speak English, and he told me all about this Temple. The temple and town form one of the four Char Dham and Chota Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is only open for 6 months every year because of the extreme weather conditions.

Badrinath temple; Badrinath, India

February 4th- Today i landed in the Rupandehi District of Nepal to take a look at Buddhism. From there I took a very small taxi to a normal Buddhist temple. It was very small in width but was pretty tall and had a roof that curved outward past the edge of the building. It was red too. From there I got another taxi to one of Buddhisms sacred sites, Lumbini. On my way to the site I had my taxi driver tell me about Lumbini since he spoke a little bit of English. He told me that Lumbini is a sacred pilgrimage site. It is the place where, Queen Mayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama. Gautama became the Gautama Buddha and founded Buddhism.

Lumbini; a sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site

February 7th- Today I flew into Jerusalem, Israel to take a look at Judaism. From there I took a bus to a Jewish Synagogue. I went inside the synagogue and there was a large hall which was for praying and then many smaller rooms for studying. From the synagogue I took a taxi to the Western Wall, one of Judaisms sacred sites. The Western Wall is an ancient limestone wall in Jerusalem. The Western Wall is considered holy due to its connection to the Temple Mount. The Wall is the holiest place where Jews are permitted to pray. The original, natural and irregular-shaped Temple Mount was gradually extended to allow for a bigger temple. Of the four retaining walls that were built, the western one is considered to be closest to the former Temple, which makes it the most sacred site recognized by Judaism outside the former Temple Mount.

People praying at the Western Wall; Jerusalem, Israel

February 9th- Today I wanted to take a look at Christianity and walked to Bethlehem, which was only about 5 miles away from my last destination. When I got there I quickly found a taxi and had him take me to a local Christian church. I went inside and there was lots of art all over the walls of the church. There were many statues and lots of room for people to come in and listen to someone talk. After I looked around the church a little bit more I had a taxi pick me up and take me to the sacred site, Church of the Nativity. The church was originally commissioned by Constantine the Great and his mother Helena over the site that was traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus. The Church of the Nativity site's original basilica was destroyed by fire during the 6th century. A new basilica was built, restoring the architectural tone of the original. The site of the Church of the Nativity has had numerous additions since this second construction, including its bell towers. Due to its cultural and geographical history, the site holds a strong religious significance to those that are Christian.

Church of the Nativity; Bethlehem, Israel

February 12th- Today I flew into Medina, Saudi Arabia to take a look at Islam. I was really looking forward to going to Mecca but then I was told I wouldn't be allowed in if I went, because only Muslims are allowed into Mecca. When i got into Medina I went straight to find a taxi to take me to an Islamic Mosque. When we got there I was told that this was a Arab-plan type Mosque. It had a square wall surrounding the courtyard in the very middle, but the prayer hall was covered. I then left and got another taxi, telling him to take me to the sacred site of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi. When we got there I found an English speaker and asked him all about this place. He told me that Al-Masjid an-Nabawi is a mosque established and originally built by the Islamic prophet Muhammad and was the third mosque built in the history of Islam. He also told me it is now one of the largest mosques in the world, that it is always open, regardless the date and time, and that originally it was supposed to be Muhammad's house. It was definitely my personal favorite site throughout my whole trip because of the amazing structure and the blue color that lights up. I would definitely come back to the Al-Masjid an-Nabawi again.

Al-Masjid an-Nabawil; Medina, Saudi Arabia

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