Religious Places around the World

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Travel Features >> Religious Places around the World

Religious Places around the World

January 14, 2013

The resonance of faith takes people to religious place around the world for pilgrimage, missionary or mere relaxation purposes. A visit to the abodes of our gods is not only to find peace from the hassles of our mechanical lives but also to purge our souls of any fear or burden which is corroding us from within! Here is a list of some religious places around the world that I would like to visit someday.

Varanasi, India
With almost a hundred frequented ghats and well known ones like Assi and Dashashwamedh Ghat, Varanasi has been one of the most sacred places for Hindus from all over the globe. This is where life and death go hand in hand together. Devotees throng the ghats to take a dip in the holy Ganges and wash away their sins. Others come to perform the cremation and last rites of their loved ones. Soaked in traditional Hindu culture and ghats are abuzz with activity throughout the day. The city is flocked by over a million pilgrims every year, with a boat ride on the river at dusk or dawn to watch the “Ganga Aarti,” being the highlight of the visit.

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Pushkar, India
Pushkar has been voted amongst the top 10 most religious places of the world. This peaceful temple town of India also has the glory of being one of the oldest cities in the country linked with the legend of Lord Brahma – the Hindu god of creation. As per one of the renowned fables, once Lord Brahma let loose a swan with a lotus in its beak, and when the lotus fell on earth, it fell where Pushkar stands today. In Rajasthan, the place is near Ajmer and is one of the five revered pilgrimage places for Hindus.

The holy town of Pushkar abounds with many temples and shrines, of which the Brahma Temple is of utmost significance. Interestingly, the temple is the only one in the world devoted to Lord Brahma. With temples and ghats flocked by pilgrims paying obeisance to the gods, Pushkar attracts devotees all round the year.

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Golden Temple, India
Golden Temple, originally named Sri Harmandir Sahib, is historically and culturally the holiest shrine for the Sikhs all over the world. Located in the city of Amritsar, the temple is gracefully built on a pool, known as “Amrit Sarovar” or the ‘pool of nectar’ that surrounds this marvel place of worship. Adi Granth, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs, is also placed within the premises of the Golden Temple. Round the year, the place is frequented by devotional pilgrimage seeking eternal peace and tranquility, and to offer prayers to the holy shrine. There is an air of serenity and peace that envelopes this most holy shrine.

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Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia
To visit Mecca and perform the Hajj is one of the biggest dreams for any and every Muslim. The annual ritual of pilgrimage to Mecca, known as Umrah and Hajj, is the largest gathering of its kind in the world. Mecca, the holiest of all cities in Islam, is said lure around 15 million people annually and as per the beliefs, this pilgrimage is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is believed that all Muslims should perform this journey at least once in their lifetime.

Dargah Sharif, India
The Dargah of Sufi Saint, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti at Ajmer, is an important pilgrim centre for Muslims from all parts of the world. Built in marble, the Saint’s mausoleum is India’s major place of pilgrimage for Muslims and receives a recurrent flow of visitors of all faith. Some people come here seeking blessings from the Almighty, while others visit for just peace of mind. The Urs Fair, celebrated annually at the Dargah, is a major pilgrimage of Muslims with millions of pilgrims arriving in Ajmer to pay obeisance.

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Vatican City, Italy
The Vatican City is one of the biggest religious locations as it not only houses the central authority of the Roman Catholic Church but also serves as a dwelling for all Popes since 1377. From 37-41 AD, the city was known for Circus of Nero, and the tall obelisk standing outside of St. Peter’s Basilica, where as per the fables, Saint Peter was crucified upside down. Several other Christians have also been martyred in this city of Popes, which was a well-known place for funeral monuments, mausoleums and altars of pagan gods until the 4th century.

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Basilica of Bom Jesus, India
One of the most revered churches in Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims from all across the globe, to experience divine intervention. Home to the mummified remains of St. Francis Xavier, the priest who brought Christianity to the region, this 400 years old church is a major pilgrimage site for Christians worldwide. It is said that the Saint had miraculous powers of healing which is still reflected in the remains of his mortal self. To witness this claim, a public viewing of the Saint’s body happens once a decade, where pilgrims come from all over to offer prayers.

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Jerusalem, Israel
Jerusalem in Israel is also one of the most important places from the religious perspective. Jerusalem, indeed, dates back to about 4000 BC; serving as the spiritual hub for the Jewish populace since the 10th century BC and being the third-holiest city in Islam as well. Also a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Old City of Jerusalem treasures Temple Mount, Western Wall, Church of the Holy Sepulchre and Al-Aqsa Mosque in its bosom and holds a very pious image for the world.

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Haifa, Israel
Haifa is built on the slopes of Mount Carmel overseeing the Mediterranean Sea, and is a major pilgrimage spot for Bahá’í faith. An autonomous world religion that evolved in the mid-1800’s in Iran by Bahá’u’lláh, Bahá’í faith’s followers believe Bahá’u’lláh is the most recent prophet, following in the footsteps of Krishna, Abraham, Moses, Buddha, Muhammad and Jesus; thereby uniting all races and people in one thread!

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Lhasa, Tibet
Lhasa is also one of the holiest places of pilgrimage. Literally meaning the “place of the Gods”, Lhasa has been the dwelling of the Dalai Lamas, religious gurus of Tibetan Buddhism, and political leaders of Tibet from the early 1600’s until the Chinese invasion. Protecting many sites of historical worth like Jokhang Temple, Potala Palace, and Norbulingka, which are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites; the city is also known for Zhefeng Temple and Sera and Drepung Monasteries which pulls millions of Buddhists to this place each year.

These are some of the selected shrines of the world that are still believed to possess the spirit of God, which can cure people of their sins and purge their souls of all the troubles in their lives. However, it is also a fact that God resides within each and every one of us, and if we can acknowledge that and try to be a true human, we have already visited Him many times.

-Contributed by Nupur Kaudan

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