We all seek to find ourselves in some way or the other. Some of us do so through religion, some through other ways such as knowledge, music, art etc. Whatever may be the vehicle in such a journey, the path that we all seek is spiritual. The importance of a spiritual happiness and joy is one which is emphasized in every religion and scripture. Human beings are basically spirits caught in a corporeal frame. Just like our bodies need food to survive, similarly, we need to rejuvenate our spirits, our souls, too. An emaciated body can be healed really quickly but treating a broken spiritual framework is a task that requires sincere effort and suitable surroundings.
A physical surrounding that itself carries an aura of spirituality is certain to act as a catalyst in one’s journey for achieving spiritual calm and comfort. While there is no doubt regarding the fact that spirituality is to do with the mind, one cannot simultaneously turn a blind eye to the intertwined relationship between mind and body. As a result, the body needs to work in tandem with the mind to attain best results. For this, having an atmosphere around you which condones spirituality and has been a marker of the same for centuries, aids one’s spiritual journey. Here is a list of such beautiful spiritual places which are bound to stir the disturbed spirit within you and bring it back to its original, pristine state.
10. Golden Temple (Amritsar)
The Golden Temple; the very name of this Gurudwara spells awe and brightness. It is located in Amritsar in Punjab. The sublimity attached to this place can be gauged fro the legends which say that not just Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion, but also Gautam Buddha spent time meditating around a lake, around which it is said that the Golden Temple is built. Be it the gilded tomb or the elegant marble, the place sends a person into a state of utter peace and oneness with The One. In addition to that, Amritsar, the name of the ancient lake as well as the modern city can be translated as “pool of ambrosial nectar”. This refers to the drink of the Gods, the drink of immortality, the drink that is meant to lull you into a state of spiritual trance.
9. Angkor Wat
Stretching over some 400 square km, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Angkor Wat, situated in the city of Angkor, is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central tower rising from the monument symbolizes the mythical mountain Meru which is believed to be situated at the center of the universe. The layout of the Angkor temples, oldest of which are believed to be more than 11,000 years old and the iconographic nature of its sculpture, particularly the demons and deities indicate the celestial phenomenon of the procession of the equinoxes and a transition from one astrological age to another. UNESCO has set up a number of initiatives to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
Nasik is a place which has religious undertones in its very nomenclature. As the legend goes, it was named after one episode of the Hindu holy book of Ramayana where Lakshmana, Rama’s brother hacks the ‘nasika’ or the nose of Surpanakha, Ravana’s sister. Now, we know that the incident is far from being one which would or could provide peace and calmness to the soul owing to its violent nature. Yet, the place has occupied a space in the Indian demography as one which has some peculiar Hindu temples which evidently have carvings that refer to the incident aforementioned. Nasik is located on the banks of the river Godavari and it hosts the ever grand Kumbha Mela every twelve years. The Kumbha Mela is argued to be one of the largest religious gatherings on Earth. There are huge bathing ghats present in Nasik. According to Hindu mythology, if one takes a bath in these ghats, one can purge their sins and embark upon a pure and pristine spiritual journey of life!
7. Mt. Kailash
Mount Kailash is one which is not just revered by Hindus but Buddhists, too. The magnificent mountain is considered to be the spiritual anchor of the two religions and just its sheer size is one that makes you feel about your smallness in this huge world, a splendid spiritual experience indeed. The mountain is believed to be the Abode of Lord Shiva. Shiva, in yogic culture, is seen as a yogi who meditated on the Kailash, assigning a mystical spiritual element to the place.
If a place is considered holy by three major religions of the world, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, then there should be little doubt remaining pertaining to its spiritual and religious significance. Jerusalem is one of the oldest countries of the world. Jerusalem’s Old City is divided into four quarters: Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Armenian. The four quarters have different cultural overtones which provide a beautiful conglomeration of spiritual experience when brought together. The city is claimed to be the capital of Israel as well as Palestine, making it a disputed territory. However, the faith of the believers has managed to withstand political upheaval and been successful in maintaining a space guided not just by spirituality but also, codes of unity an brotherhood.
After Mecca, Medina is considered the second holiest city in Islam. Located in the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia, it is known to be the place where the Prophet first started teaching his followers. The place also derives its importance from the mosque of the prophet locally known as Al-Masjid an-Nabawi which is believed to have been built on the site of the house where Muhammad’s home was located and also where he was buried. The Quba mosque which is believed to be the first mosque ever built is also located in Medina.
American author Mark Twain famously said about Kashi, “Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.” Located in the Uttar Pradesh province of India, Kashi is the legendary name of modern day Varanasi. One of the most spiritual places on the planet and holiest city for Hindus, it harbors thousands of temples and shrines such as the Panchganga ghat, Manikarnika ghat and the famous Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is said that if one dies in Kashi, they attain “moksha” (salvation). It is because of these symbolic meanings of this place that the Indian government too has laid special emphasis on its renovation and projecting it as the spiritual capital of not just India but the entire world.
3. Bodh Gaya
Talking about spirituality and not talking about the Buddha is a cardinal sin. Bodh Gaya is that place in Bihar where under a banyan tree, known as the Bodhi Tree, did Gautama attained enlightenment and came to be known as Buddha. It is thereby one of the most important religious sites for Buddhists all over the world. The monasteries, the Ashokan pillars as well as the huge Mahabodhi temple and the Bodhi Tree that still stands in the temple premises instill in the pilgrim a spiritual solace and comfort like none other.
2. Vatican City
Vatican City might be a meagre 109 acre small walled enclave within the city of Rome but that, in no way means that the country is devoid of spiritual magnificence. The country is known as the home to Pope and is among one of the most visited pilgrimage places in the world. It is the holiest place for Roman Catholics and evokes a certain element of holiness and spiritual enlightenment in the beings visiting the place. Its aura gets multifold with the presence of Sisitine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. According to Roman catholic mythology, St. Peter’s Basilica is built over the site where St. Peter was crucified and buried. The unique rule of the Papacy, the religious exuberance and the plethora of artistic wonders that are found in the Vatican, including works of Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli and many more have all come together and aptly justify the listing of the state as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
What Kashi is to Hindus, Mecca is for Muslims. It is the capital city of the Makkah province in Saudi Arabia and is revered as the holiest site of Islam that every able-bodied Muslim should visit at least once in their lifetime. It is a belief among Muslims that the mosque of Mecca, Ka’ba was the first place that was built on earth, thus making it the holiest place on earth. Each year, millions of Muslims from around the world join in a pilgrimage to Mecca that is popularly known as ‘hajj’ as a part of their journey to one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Such has been the impact of this city on the popular culture that it has now come to metaphorically define many places that are considered important for any fraternity, even those that are not religious. For example-Lord is popularly known as “Mecca of Cricket.”
In the busy lives of metropolitans, it becomes pivotal to wait a bit, relax and seek solace in the realms of one’s own mind and soul. Such an experience not only relieves one of stress but also pushes one towards beautiful feelings such as compassion, inner peace, forgiveness and any more. We suggest go and visit any of these places and rejoice your Being!