In man’s quest for meaning, since time immemorial, he has erected monuments to the Divine Being. These have often become places of learning and faith, that have stood the test of time and in fact some of these landmarks have come to represent a cultural and spiritual peak of human civilization. Today there still remain these callings from the past, a part of our spiritual heritage. These spectacles of breath-taking beauty and resilient belief leave you awe-struck and blessed, when you tread the paths to these offbeat spiritual destinations.
Here’s a list of 4 spiritually inspiring and architecturally marvelous places or monuments for the spiritually inclined traveler.
1) Borobudur, Indonesia
Borobudur was built as a colossal tribute to the growth of Buddhism in Indonesia. A sprawling temple, it was lost to the world for almost ten centuries. Built during the 9th century, Borobudur lay forgotten under volcanic ash, and was only rediscovered in 1815.
Every inch of this ancient monument- walls, balustrades, etc., is covered in bas relief carvings depicting the life of Buddha. As with many temple complexes of that age, there is a lot of symbolism built into Borobudur. Seen from ground level, the temple resembles a giant stupa, but is actually built in a mandala (or concentric rings). The ten levels of the monument signify the three levels of Buddhist cosmology. As if to signify the unenlightened, mortal form of visitors achieving nirvana by the time they reach the summit.
2) Rumi’s Tomb, Turkey
Konia in Turkey is the birthplace of the whirling dervishes and Rumi, one of the most widely read poets in the world. Rumi has become an enduring symbol of tolerance, love and Sufism. After his death in the 13th century, his followers erected a shrine in his honour.
Usually cordoned off, this shrine has now become the site of an annual pilgrimage which occurs on December 17 every year where devotees, Sufi or otherwise come to pay their respects to their patron saint.
3) Machu Picchu, Peru
The medieval city of Machu Picchu seems to have been literally carved out of the Peruvian Andes. It was built around 1450 when the Incan Empire was at its pinnacle. Machu Picchu was also almost lost to the world only to be rediscovered by a Yale University archaeologist in 1911.
The layout of this citadel is urbane and sophisticated with deep foundations and a crushed-rock drainage system.This city was meant to bring to life the Andean vision of the cosmos. Incan life embraced duality in nature and nature worship. This is evident from their reverence of an Earth Mother deity, and Wiracocha (The Creator).However, it was recently theorized that Machu Picchu was actually a pilgrimage site meant to symbolize the end of a particularly perilous journey undertaken by Incan ancestors.
4) Christ the Redeemer, Brazil
In Brazil, the idea of having a physical representation of Catholicism as a national symbol originated in the 1850’s. The initiative picked up momentum in the early twentieth century when religious interests gained increasing significance. From ideation to inauguration, it took more than a decade to bringthe Art Deco Cristo Redentorto life. It now towers at 130 feet, but seen from afar it is a tiny cross atop the steeple that is Mt. Corvocado.
Cristo Redentor is a religious, cultural and symbolic achievement which brought a nation together after the gloom and doom of WWI. Today 5,000 visitors flock to pay their respects to this gargantuan tribute to Catholicism every day. It has become the ultimate symbol of a nation that embraces all who come to visit.