Travelers of all types hit the road every year in search of something new. For those yearning for a soulful experience, rather than a vomit-filled hostel bathroom, check out the road to one of these holy lands. Spiritual pilgrimages take place in various forms and rituals, but all start with the footsteps and thoughts of change with the spiritual traveler. Get connected to history, legends, and faith as spiritual seekers traverse through these sacred sites.
Varanasi is one of India’s most sacred cities. This ancient city is located along the Ganges River where locals’ bath and crematory ceremonies take place. Known to Hindus as the Center of the Universe, millions of travellers visit Varanasi in search of the sacred ceremonies, such as the spreading of cremated ashes into the river.
Bodh Gaya, India
This Buddhist tradition was created from Prince Siddhartha who rested and meditated under a Bodhi tree and gained enlightenment. Legend has it that the Bodhi tree only grows when the Buddha is present in the midst. Adjacent to the tree is Mahabodhi Temple, the most sacred Buddhist temple. Pilgrims, nuns, and monks travel to this spiritual spot for silence and inner-reflection.
Vatican City, Italy
Ruled by Catholicism and Pope gift shops, Vatican City, locals and international travelers flock to check out these sacred grounds. Sistine Chapel and the famous Michelangelo painting attracts art lovers and historical seekers. Taking pictures is not allowed in the chapel, but photographers can capture the rest of the spectacular paintings and sculptures in the museums.
Mount Kailas, Tibet
This black mountain in western Tibet is sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. Each religion has a different perspective on its holiness, but is known as the land of eternal bliss and nirvana. The mountain resides in a remote location and is not easy to travel to and from the Gangdise mountain range. However, the mountain sits near Lake Manasarovar, which is another spiritual site for Buddhists and Hindus who believe the lake offers purity. Although not a bustling city, this is a destination for those who yearn for spirituality and solitude.
This is one of the oldest cities in the world and is recognized and sacred in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The city is packed with history and culture including churches, mosques and synagogues. Many pilgrims and locals know Jersulaem for the Waiting Wall, Last Supper, and Mohammed’s ascension into universe.
The vortexes in Sedona call all sun-worshippers and modern spiritual seekers to explore everything from Native American sweat lodges to Reiki practice. From metaphysics to mysticism, travelers find ancient and modern methods to allow their spirits to heal and become complete. The vortexes are high-energy centers that profoundly and positively impact every individual. There are four popular vortexes located near the town’s center.
Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Islam’s holiest city, Mecca welcomes millions of pilgrims who come to complete Hajj. This is the birthplace of Prophet Muhammad and is the largest mosque, which contains the Kaaba shrine. Unfortunately, Saudi law prohibits non-Muslims entry into Mecca, thus only those who are Muslims or Islam converts can experience mecca and this annual event.
Elizabeth is a fitness professional, workshop presenter and freelance writer. She is an active traveler who treks the globe looking for interesting stories to write and places to photograph. Her most significant travel achievements include living and volunteering in Australia twice and studied yoga in India.