Traveling is all about developing ourselves as people in society. We experience personal growth when we explore the world and expose ourselves to different cultures. For many who have studied abroad, they have felt a connection to nature or to those around them who cross their paths. In Buddhism, enlightenment is the ultimate goal which is an experience of insight into the true nature of reality. It is about gaining wisdom and awareness of your surroundings. It is not the great spiritual awakening that we necessarily romanticize it to be. This week we decided to list some of the most sacred destinations on Earth to visit.
We found that these historical spots have inspired and motivated spiritual experiences in individuals with their magical touch.
Uluru-Kata Tijuta National Park, Australia
This spot is located in the center of the country and is one of the most recognized landmarks in Australia. Uluru is 5.8 miles in circumference and rises higher than the Eiffel Tower. The beautiful red rocks dates all the way back to 550 million years since the beginning of their formation. Archaeologists have discovered that the people who live there, known as Anangus, have been there for nearly 30,000 years. Ceremonies and spiritual rituals still occur here and you will notice spiritual paintings over 5,000 years old on the walls of the rocks. Today, the people of Uluru are often spotted dot painting, performing traditional song and dance, telling folktales or gathering resources. Tjukurpra is the foundation of their culture and refers to the creation period when ancestral beings created the universe. It explains their existence and guiding throughout daily life. The law there is about caring for the relationships between each other and the land that supports them.
Mount Kailas, Tibet
This mountain is a sacred peak in the Himalyans for four faiths: Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and followers of the indigenous Tibetan religion of Bon. Every faith has their own mythological story of the background of the mountain. According to Hinduism, the god of destruction and regeneration lives at the peak of the famous mountain whereas Tibetan Buddhists believe the mountain represents supreme bliss. In Jainism, Kailas is where the founder of their faith attained liberation from rebirth and in Bon, the mountain is the home to their sky goddess. Every year, thousand of people make pilgrimage to Kailash for it is said that one trip around the sacred mountain will remove the sins of your lifetime. However, nobody climbs the mountain. According to legend, the only person to have reached the top is a Buddhist champion and anyone else who has attempted has lost their life in the process. A typical journey around the mountain lasts about three days where many people either stay in monasteries or if not, camp out on the mountain. Unless you are an expert camper/hiker, we highly suggest hiring a tour guide to take you through the excursion. You can split the cost with up to 3 other travelers, since it can be a pricey trip. You usually need a guide, a vehicle, a driver, and a military permit which tours arrange for you.
Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar
This destination is the most sacred Buddhist site and is covered with hundreds of gold plates and diamonds. According to legend, this spiritual landmark has existed for over 2,600 years and is one of the wonders of the religious world. This destination actually enshrines Buddha’s hair and other very holy momentos. This is a place for monks to come to worship and meditate in the colorful temples and statues. The legend of the Pagoda starts with 2 Burmese merchant brothers after they experienced an encounter with the Buddha who gave them 8 of his hairs. A chamber to hide the relics was build on a sacred spot where great things happened. It currently houses the relics of The Buddha and the three Buddhas that came after him covered in gold and jewels. Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, isn’t called “The Land of Gold” for no reason. This is a great place to visit at night because you can join in the chants, the aromas in the air, and the great golden stupas shining in the nighttime.
These are just a few of our favorite spiritual landmarks located throughout the world. They all offer contrasting aspects of history and culture. Along the way, hopefully you will see how spiritual travels can help feed your soul in ways than other trips cannot. The goal is to find meaning and a connection in some of your travels along the way.
Remember, visas are typically required for most of these destinations. Please contact Passport Study Abroad for any of your travel document questions or concerns. We are here to help!