Day 1: On December 1, 2016, I began my journey around the world starting in India. I looked at and observed many sacred sites known to Hinduism. My first stop was the Konark Sun Temple. It is a 13th century Hindu temple dedicated to the sun god. Shaped like a giant chariot, the temple is known for the exquisite stone carvings that cover the entire building. It was so beautiful and interesting to see the ancient work. After that, I continued on to Haridwar. Haridwar is the land of gods where they left their footprints. It symbolically means that the human population here have their spirits marked with the love of these gods and they worship them with full devotion. This is the place where you will find lush green forests and temples of Hindu gods. Especially at night, this is one of the prettiest places I've ever been with everything all lit up.
Day 2: The next morning I got up and went to spend the day in the sacred city of Mathura. It is located in Uttar Pradesh, northern India. The deity Lord Krishna is said to have been born on the site of Sri Krishna Janma Bhoomi, a Hindu temple. The town is full of amazing buildings and architecture including the Sati Burj tower and the 25 flights of steps down to the Yamuna River. The Hindu architecture, for example on the temples, is open symmetry driven, with many variations, depicting perfect geometric shapes like circles and squares.
Day 3 & 4: On December 3 & 4, I traveled to Lumbini which is situated at the foothills of the Himalayas in modern Nepal. The birthplace of the Guatama Buddah, Limbini, is the Mecca of every Buddhist, being one of the four holy places of Buddhism. Limbini is a very sacred site to Buddhists and should be visited and seen by a person of devotion and which should cause awareness and apprehension. Also, while in India, I visited the Bodh Gaya, which is where Guatama Buddha attained supreme enlightenment. The historical place at which the enlightenment took place, became a place of pilgrimage. The temple's architecture is superb but its history is covered in mystery. It was constructed with the main intention of making it a monument and not a receptacle for the relics of the Buddha. Several shrines were constructed with enshrined images for use as places of worship.
Day 5 & 6: The next day I turned my interest towards the sacred sites of Judaism. My first stop was Israel. Israel itself is a very sacred place to Jewish people. Jews who do not live there try to visit at some point in their lives. In particular, Jerusalem is important because it is the ancient capital of Israel and the site of the original temple. The Western Wall of the ancient temple remains. This is where the tablets that Moses brought down from Mt. Sinai with the ten commandments were stored in a golden box called the Ark of the Covenant. Jewish people make pilgrimages to this wall. It is also called the Wailing Wall because people grieve the destruction of the temple and other persecution of the Jews. The following day I visited a synagogue. A synagogue is a center for Jewish life - not just worshipping, but education and community. All synagogues contain certain features including The Holy Ark with one or more Torah scrolls, covered by curtains, and a six-pointed star, the Star of David, which is often found both inside and outside synagogues.
Day 7 & 8: On December 7, I made my first stop at the Jordan River in Israel to begin my tour of Christianity. Traditionally divided into three main sections, the Jordan River runs through the state of Israel from the northern tip all the way down to the center of the country. This was the place where Jesus was baptized, and where John, the baptist, is believed to have baptized those who came to repent their sins. The Jordan River is perhaps Israel's most sacred body of water. The river was so beautiful and surrounded by lots of people like me, learning of it's history and significance. The next morning I traveled to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is identified as the place both of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus of Nazareth. The church has long been a major pilgrimage center for Christians all around the world. It was amazing to see all of the architecture put into the town of Jerusalem including crosses everywhere, symbolizing Jesus Christ, and the amount of time it must of took to build the church with all of it's little details in the stone walls.
Day 9 & 10: As my journey around the world came to a close, I finished it off exploring the religion of Islam. I first started at the most sacred place in all of Islam which is the Ka'ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. The Ka'ba is a shrine, built by Abraham according to Muslim tradition, around a black stone. The Prophet Muhammad specifically designated Mecca as the holy city of Islam and the direction in which all Muslims should offer their prayers. My second stop was the Al-Aqsa Mosque which is the most important mosque in Jerusalem. Located on the Temple Mount, it is the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina. It is the central focus of the Muslim community in Jerusalem, hosting daily prayers and accommodating large crowds for Friday sermons. The Islamic architecture was by far one of my favorite and you were to one day explore one of these religions, I would choose this one for sure!