Every single person who has traveled at least once in his life has said that traveling is by far the best investment, intangible as it may be. However, while it’s not something you can hold on to, like real estate or jewelry, the investment is the memories you’ll acquire from your trip and the learning experiences that will undoubtedly make you a better, more interesting person.
Traveling opens up a whole world of possibilities that will teach you great lessons. First is how to handle your pocket money. Whether you’re on a budget tour or a lavish one, the fact of the matter is, you have to handle your own money, whether you’re using hard cash, credit cards, or traveler’s checks.
You’ll also learn how to pack in as many items of clothing that you can bring without exceeding the luggage space or weight limit. Packing light is the smartest way to go, especially if you’re lugging around your own bags.
More concretely, traveling enables you to learn about the country’s different cultures and traditions, so different from your own, which is what makes it utterly fascinating. What is beautiful in one culture may not be considered so in another and discovering these diverse practices is what makes the travel experience so enriching.
Lastly, everyone needs to take a step back from the humdrum of everyday life and recharge our batteries. Traveling to a place so unlike home is sure to teach you a thing or two about life. Although, going shopping and seeing museums is not the only way to unwind. Going to a spiritual place is even more ideal for the occasion. Yes, some sacred sites might be a little harder to get to than others, but the experience and positive energy that can flow into you in these places may well be worth the money and the effort.
Here’s a list of the world’s most sacred places worth visiting, regardless of your religion or spiritual views. These are in no particular order because who’s to judge which place is the holiest?
10. Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Australia
In the Northern Territory of Australia is found a World Heritage site, rightly preserved by Unesco. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is located in the continent’s red center and houses two natural rock formations, also known as a sandstone monolith. It’s flocked to by many tourists because of its beautiful scenery, but many don’t know that the area is considered sacred by the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal tribe. The tribe’s people believe that the rocks were built by their ancestors during the ancient period and that the area is still inhabited by the spirits of their forefathers. For that reason alone, they consider the spot holy ground.
9. Bodh Gaya, India
The religion in India is predominantly Hindu, with majority of the world’s second most populous country devoutly practicing their faith. A minority of Indians, though, are Buddhists and the reason for this is Bodh Gaya, a Buddhist pilgrimage site, considered to be the most holy place on Earth for all Buddhists. It’s believed that it is in Bodh Gaya that Prince Gautama Siddharta rested under a bodhi tree and gained the enlightenment that transformed him into Gautama Buddha. Thousands of pilgrims flock to the site to try to attain even a pinch of the wisdom that Buddha is said to have gained there.
8. Cenote Sagrado, Mexico
In many cultures, water is considered sacred and cleansing to those that come into contact with it. That’s why water is the main element of baptism. The cenote sagrado, otherwise known as “sacred well” or “well of sacrifice,” is found in the renowned and very much visited Mayan archaeological site, Chichen Itza in Mexico. The Mayan civilization looked to these waters as a means by which to cleanse themselves, offer sacrifices, and worship Chaac, the Mayan god of rain. When archaeologists dredged up the well, they not only found pieces of gold and other valuable items; they also found human remains, indicating that the waters were also a venue for human sacrifice in homage to Chaac.
7. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Turkey
Istanbul is one of the most historical cities in the world, having been around for thousands of years. It’s home to numerous attractions, including the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. It’s called such because of the blue tiles spanning the walls of the mosque’s interior. The exterior is a sight to behold, dotting the picturesque Istanbul skyline. The building is mainly used as a mosque for worship and sees as many as 10,000 visitors at a time. The rest of the complex also serves as a place of higher learning and houses the tomb of the founder.
6. Mount Kailash, Tibet
To a mountaineer, Mount Kailash ought to prove the ultimate challenge, as it has never been scaled before, its terrain being deemed too dangerous. However, perhaps it’s best untouched, as it’s considered holy ground to four religions: Bon, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. The snow-capped peaks are a sight to behold and every year, thousands of pilgrims in all four religions circle the base of the holy mountain on foot in a ritual that is believed to bring good fortune. It’s a very difficult pilgrimage, as one risks fatigue, acrophobia, and braving erratic weathers. Accomplishing the task is believed to bring fulfillment and an abundance of blessings.
5. Mount Sinai, Egypt
According to Jewish, Islamic, and Christian history, Mount Sinai was the site of one of the most pivotal moments in religious and divine history. Located in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, the mountain’s summit was where Moses was said to have spoken to God and received the 10 Commandments, written on two stone tablets. This account was mentioned in the Torah, Quran, and the Bible. Thousands of pilgrims trek to the top to stand where Moses stood and numerous religious groups have erected a place of worship there, to give their members a chance to pray.
4. Glastonbury Tor, England
In the English county of Somerset, you wouldn’t expect to find sacred ground. However, there lies Glastonbury Tor, a hill that, according to legend, contains a mystical aura. The ancient Celts believed it housed the entrance to the home of the Gwyn ap Nudd, the Celtic King of the Fairies. In later years, it was believed to be Avalon, where the coffins of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere were supposedly found at the top of the hill. Another legend states that it was the site of the Holy Grail. No matter the myth, it seems that Glastonbury Tor has been proven to emit positive energy to visitors who walk through its hills. Many have claimed they felt lighter and happier upon descending the hill.
3. Vortexes, Arizona
People who are interested in enhancing their spirituality have taken to the town of Sedona in Arizona. Its beautiful red rock formations contain four vortex points that are said to have mystical and healing powers. The Yavapai, an ancient Native American tribe, has numerous paintings and little altars in the vortexes, to honor this great energy that was filling their beings. Many visitors traipse through the area on foot and there, they meditate and bask in the lightness permeating through the area. They leave the vortexes feeling like better persons.
2. Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Every person baptized into the Muslim faith is mandated to visit Mecca at least once in their lives. Located in Saudi Arabia, Mecca is considered the most sacred city in the Islamic faith, as it was the birthplace of the prophet and founder of Islam, Muhammad. Every day, Muslims are expected to say a prayer facing the Kaaba, which is located in Mecca and considered the holiest site of Islam. They have never truly attained holiness until they’ve made their pilgrimage to Mecca. Believe it or not, non-Muslims are actually banned from entering the city.
1. Jerusalem, Israel
One of the holiest cities in the world is also ironically, lacking in peace and order, due to clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. These clashes date back to Biblical times due to territory disputes. However, Jerusalem is still considered a sacred site by three religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Among the three religions, it’s perhaps considered the most holy to Christians as it was in Jerusalem where Jesus lived, preached, and died. Literally millions of pilgrims travel to Jerusalem to walk where Jesus walked: to the room where the Last Supper was held; to the garden of Gethsemane where he was captured; down the Via Dolorosa, where he bore the burden of carrying his cross; and finally to Mount Calvary, where he was crucified.