Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Istanbul's Blue Mosque
Not long ago I took a trip around the world, and one of the places that I visited was Varanasi, India.  I was struck by not only how dirty the city was, but the overwhelming deep sense of spirituality that seemed to permeate everything.  I asked a co-worker and he explained to me that Varanasi was one stop on an informal route that backpackers often trek seeking to visit the most spiritual places in the world.  This got me thinking, what would my list of spiritual destinations look like?  I've come up with...
  • The Vatican:  The ecclesiastical state, center of the Catholic Church.
  • Kyaiktiyo Pagoda:  A well-known Buddhist pilgrimage site in Myanmar.  The pagoda's Golden Rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill. According to legend the Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of the Buddha's hair.
  • Jerusalem: A holy city to the three major Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
  • Mecca's Grand Mosque:  The holiest mosque in Islam.
  • Lalibela, Ethiopia:  One of Ethiopia's holiest cities and a center of pilgrimage. The city was intended to be a New Jerusalem in response to the capture of Jerusalem by Muslims, and many of its historic buildings take their name and layout from buildings in Jerusalem.
  • Hardiwar, India:  One of the holiest places for Hindus. Millions of pilgrims, devotees, and tourists congregate in Haridwar to perform ritualistic bathing on the banks of the river Ganges to wash away their sins.
  • Hagia Sophia, Istanbul:  From 360 A.D. a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Canterbury Cathedral:  One of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England.  The cathedral of the Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Church of England.
  • Chimney Rock:  Rising nearly 300 feet above the surrounding North Platte River.  It served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail.
  • Ulura:  Ayers Rock, sacred to the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara, the Aboriginal people of the area.
  • Mauna Kea:  The peaks of the island of Hawaii are sacred, and Mauna Kea is the most sacred of all. An ancient law allowed only high-ranking tribal chiefs to visit its peak.
  • Allahbad, India:  A site of Hindu pilgrimage, believed to be the spot where Brahma offered his first sacrifice after creating the world.
  • Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya:  The Buddhist temple marking the location where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, attained enlightenment.
  • Lumbini, Nepal:  The place where Queen Mayadevi is said to have given birth to Siddhartha Gautama, who as the Buddha Gautama founded the Buddhist tradition.
  • Potala Palace, Lhasa:  The spiritual home of the Tibetan people. The Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India.
  • Machu Picchu: The Lost City of the Incas, never found by he invading Spanish.
  • Qufu, China:  The hometown of Confucius, who is traditionally believed to have been born at nearby Mount Ni.
  • Tsubaki Grand Shrine:  The principal Shinto shrine of the deity Sarutahiko-no-Ōkami and one of Japan's oldest shrines.
  • Meoto Iwa:  The Loved One Rocks;  a couple of small rocky stacks in the sea off Futami, Mie, Japan. Joined by a shimenawa (a heavy rope of rice straw) they are considered sacred by Shinto worshipers. The rocks represent the union of Izanagi and Izanami, therefore, celebrate the union in marriage of man and woman.
  • Mt. Fuji:  The iconic symbol of Japan and considered one of its holiest mountains.

    1 comment:

    निशांत मिश्र - Nishant Mishra said...

    Hi Eric,
    When I commented last in one of your posts, I was not at ease with all the news of warfare and bloodshed going on and like most people around this past of the world (India) I have also built a very negative image of US as a dominant nation. So the bitterness towards its steps and policies often reflect in my comments these days but I like US a lot for its contribution to the world and actually have many pals there who feel bad at all the negativity going around about their country.
    Not only Varanasi but many (almost every) Indian cities are full of dirt and chaos. This is mainly because of big population and poverty... but I also find it that

    we Indians are not concerned about our habitat. We try to keep our homes clean but throw the garbage on streets. This bad practice will only change with more education and awareness.