Travel broadens the mind. And what could be more fulfilling than a trip to some of the most sacred places on earth? For centuries, people battled hardships to visit these places, guided by the belief that religious and spiritual powers can get rid of their wrongdoings. Yet others have traveled miles simply to soak in the history and heritage of these holy places, whether natural or manmade.
Here are 15 of the most sacred places in the world. Try to visit at least a few of them and return rich.
At 6,638 metres, Mount Kailash is the ultimate challenge to all mountaineers. It has never been scaled, probably because it’s considered sacred among four leading world religions: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Bon. Its terrain is the most hostile among all mountains. The breathtaking beauty of the Kailash peak is a sight to behold. Every year, hundreds of pilgrims from all the four religions battle fatigue, acrophobia, and thinning oxygen to circle the sacred mountain on foot, which is believed to bring abundant blessings.
Every person baptized in Islam is mandated to visit Mecca at least once in their lifetime. It’s the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam, and considered one of the holiest cities in the world. Muslims are expected to pray five times everyday facing Kabba, located at the centre of the most religious of all places in Islam, the Al-Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca. You have not attained true holiness if you are yet to visit Mecca. Non-Muslims, however, are not allowed to enter the city.
According to Islamic, Christian and Jewish mythology, Mount Sinai is one of the most sacred places on earth. It’s also the location of a pivotal moment in divine history as Moses is said to have received the 10 commandments from god at the summit of the mountain, an event mentioned in the Bible, Quran, and Torah. Pilgrims trek to the top where Moses is believed to have stood. Several religious groups have since erected places of worship on Sinai.
An UNESCO World Heritage site, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located in the Northern Territory, Australia’s red centre. It has two natural sandstone monolith rock formations. Tourists flock the park but are largely unaware that the Pitjantjatjara Aborigines consider the area as one of their sacred places. They believe the rocks were built by their ancestors and that their forefathers’ spirits still inhabit the area.
Buddhists consider Bodh Gaya among the top sacred places in the world. It’s believed that prince Siddhartha rested under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya and got enlightenment, which transformed him to Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Thousands of pilgrims travel to the site all around the year and try to attain a pinch of wisdom which Buddha is said to have got there.
Foodie, lazy, bookworm, and internet junkie. All in that order. Loves to floor the accelerator. Mad about the Himalayas and its trekking trails. Former life forester. Also an occasional writer and editor