I am sure there are many beautiful countries, cities and destinations in the world that would pique my interest and curiosity but none would be as exhilarating as the following:
1. The Mahabodhi Temple (Great Enlightenment/Great Awakening) in Bodhgaya, India
This Buddhist temple is located in Bodh Gaya – the location where Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha), is said to have attained enlightenment. Located next to the temple is the holy Bodhi Tree (“Tree of Awakening” also know as Bo Tree). After 49 days of meditation, it was here that Siddharta Guatama became the Buddha, the “Enlightened One”.
2. Uluru/Ayers Rock, Australia
The cultural landscapes of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park resonate with meaning. They contain creation stories and the associated knowledge of law, relationships, plants, and animals, all of which live in the shapes and features of the land.
Places where significant events in the Anangu story occurred are held as sacred sites. Anangu have the responsibility and obligation to care for the land in a proper way. As such, tourists are not permitted access to certain significant or sacred sites. Even inadvertent access to these can be sacrilegious.
3. Temple of Confucius, China
Kong Miao, the Temple of Confucius, is located in Qufu in Shandong province. The origins of the temple date back to the 5th century B.C., shortly after the Sage’s death.
Living in the State of Lu (Qufu City in Shandong Province) during the Spring and Warring Period (770 BC – 476 BC), Confucius was a great educationalist, ideologist and the founder of Confucianism and private schools in China. He was born on September, 8th, 551 BC. Through his righteousness, optimism and enterprising spirit he has influenced greatly the character of the Chinese people from generation to generation.
His main idea is to administer the country with morals. Regarding personal relationships he once said that ‘Do not do unto others what you would not want others to do unto you’. He advocated the syncretism of nature and human beings and suggested that people live harmoniously with nature.
In addition, he thought that a country should develop culture and economy at the same time. People should not only be benevolent to others but also cherish every object. In short, he aimed to establish a world of great harmony. For over two thousand years, Confucianism has guided numerous people’s behavior and has been the mainstream of Chinese culture. In recent years, his great ideas have been accepted by many people all over the world.
Meiji Shrine, Japan
Meiji Jingu is a Shinto shrine. Shinto is called Japan’s ancient original religion, and it is deeply rooted in the way of Japanese life. Shinto has no founder, no holy book, and not even the concept of religious conversion, but Shinto values for example harmony with nature and virtues such as “Magokoro (sincere heart)”. In Shinto, some divinity is found as Kami (divine spirit), or it may be said that there is an unlimited number of Kami. You can see Kami in mythology, in nature, and in human beings. From ancient times, Japanese people have felt awe and gratitude towards such Kami and dedicated shrines to many of them. This shrine is dedicated to the divine souls of Emperor Meiji and his consort Empress Shoken (their tombs are in Kyoto). Emperor Meiji passed away in 1912 and Empress Shoken in 1914. After their demise, people wished to commemorate their virtues and to venerate them forever. So they donated 100,000 trees from all over Japan and from overseas, and they worked voluntarily to create this forest. Thus, thanks to the sincere heart of the people, this shrine was established on November 1, 1920.
Facts about Meiji Jingu:
Enshrined deities: souls of Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken
Foundation: November 1, 1920
Area: 700,000 m2 (inner precinct)
Forest: 170,000 trees of 245 species (as of 2008)
4. Lotus Temple, New Delhi, India
The Bahá’í Faith is a world religion whose purpose is to unite all races and peoples in one universal Cause and one common Faith. Bahá’is are the followers of Bahá’u’lláh, Who they believe is the Promised One of all Ages.
The traditions of almost every people include the promise of a future when peace and harmony will be established on earth and humankind will live in prosperity. We believe that the promised hour has come and that Bahá’u’lláh is the great Personage Whose teachings will enable humanity to build a new world.
5. Po Lin Monastery & Tian Tan Buddha, China
Once merely a remote monastery hidden by lush, mountain scenery, the Po Lin Monastery made it to the world map when the extraordinary Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha) was erected in 1993. Sitting 34 metres high and facing north to look over the Chinese people, this majestic bronze Buddha draws pilgrims from all over Asia.
The eyes, lips, incline of the head and right hand, which is raised to deliver a blessing to all, combine to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Buddha, which took 12 years to complete. Climb the 268 steps for a closer look at this remarkable statue, and to enjoy the sweeping mountain and sea views that can be seen from its base.
Opposite the statue, the Po Lin Monastery is one of Hong Kong’s most important Buddhist sanctums and has been dubbed ‘the Buddhist World in the South’. Home to many a devout monk, this monastery is rich with colourful manifestations of Buddhist iconography and its pleasant garden is alive with birdsong and flowery scents. You can also enlighten your appetite at their popular vegetarian restaurant.
Extracted from: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/culture-heritage/chinese-temples/big-buddha-and-po-lin-monastery.jsp#ixzz24KOsCceq
6. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
7. Nepal, Tibet
This Buddhist shrine was built around 600 AD by King Songsten Gampo whose Nepali wife converted him to Buddhism (his other queen was Chinese). With the arrival of thousands of Tibetans in 1959, Bodhnath has become an important center of Tibetan Buddhism. From the air, the complex resembles a huge mandala (Buddhist representation of the cosmos). Looking out at the mountains from the base of the stupa, with the chants of Om Mani Padme Hum echoing softly around is a deeply calming experience.
8. Serengeti National Park, Africa
The human history of the Serengeti is largely the history of the African people, from the hunter-gatherers of the distant past who roamed the vast plains, to those today who preserve it as a prime destination for visitors. Apart from Olduvai Gorge, which is formally part of the Ngorongoro Crater Conservation Area but an extension of the Serengeti and part of its ecosystem, the area’s history has been virtually ignored. Tsetse flies in the woodlands, and with them sleeping sickness, ensured that the Serengeti was spared the type of European encroachment, and with it the decimation of the wildlife that other African countries were subjected to. The Leakey’s famous excavations at Olduvai Gorge show that our forebears lived and hunted in the area for some two million years before the German and then the British colonizers arrived. Man has always been part of the Serengeti and many people, tribes and remarkable individuals have left their footprints on its endless plains.
9. The Pyramids, Egypt
There are three main Pyramids here, which were built in the 4th Dynasty (circa 2550 B.C). The Pyramids of Ancient Egypt were built as tombs for Kings (and Queens), and it was the exclusive privilege to have a Pyramid tomb. However, this tradition only applied in the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Today there are more than 93 Pyramids in Egypt; the most famous ones are those at Giza.
10. The Amazon, Brazil
The Amazon is a vast region that spans the border of eight rapidly developing countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, an overseas territory of France.
The landscape contains:
- One in ten known species on Earth
- 1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests
- 4,100 miles of winding rivers
- 2.6 million square miles, about 40 percent of South America, in the Amazon Basin
There is a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet. The rain forests, which contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, help stabilize local and global climate.
These destinations would definitely allow me to connect with myself, spirit, the environment and to the universe. I feel grateful that I am able to experience these places through photos and video – but to see them in person and experience the sites, sounds, smells and people would be beyond my wildest dreams. I am still young and hope to travel to all these destinations at some point.
I hope that you can appreciate all the beauty that is around you – be grateful and respectful, love the planet and let us heal the environment so that we can continue to be in awe of its beauty.
Together we can make the world a more positive one!