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Pivotal Places of Pilgrimage – Part 2

Lumbini

Region: Rupandehi, Nepal

Religion: Buddhism

Lumbini is a centre for pilgrims of the Buddhist faith. It is believed that it was here that Siddhartha Gautama was born in a garden, he went on to become the Lord Buddha himself. He was born a prince in 623 BC though felt unfulfilled by his entitled life. At the age of 29 he set out to seek enlightenment and went on to discover and found the ways of Buddhism. The site really became a place of pilgrimage after the year 249 BC, this was thanks to a visit from India’s Emperor King Ashoka. To honour the visit a pillar named the ‘Ashokan Pillar’ stands in Lumbini Garden, inscribed with a dedication to Buddha. There are other sites that mark the importance of Siddhartha including ‘Puskarni’, the pool in which he was bathed in after birth and a stone slab marking the place he was born, housed in the Maya Devi Temple.

Badrinath

Region: Uttarakhand, India

Religion: Hindu

Badrinath is mentioned in Hindu scriptures and according the those is a place sacred to the god Vishnu, one of its principal deities. These tell of how he underwent penance for the welfare of all living things during his incarnation as two sages named Nara and Narayana. It’s because of this that the site is seen as one of the most paramount pilgrimages for anyone who follows the Hindu faith. In fact, the sight has roughly 100,000 people visit each year during its major festival seasons. The site first became a site of great pilgrimage around the 7th century in which Hindu’s would travel for hundreds of miles to visit the Badrinath Temple. The site also holds religious significance thanks to its close proximity to the Vyas Caves which sit just outside of the town, supposedly this was where the Mahabharata was written by Vyasa, it’s a Sanskrit epic that revolves around the Hindu religion.

Western Wall

Region: Jerusalem, Israel

Religion: Judaism

Also referred to as the “Wailing Wall” or the “Kotel”, the Western Wall is an extremely important sight for the Jewish faith. It is an ancient wall, made from limestone that lay in the Old City of Jerusalem. Initially the wall was erected to serve as part of the Second Jewish Temple, around 516 BC by Herod the Great. This temple was built in order to replace the previously destroyed First Temple, built by none other than King Solomon the Wise, son of King David. It is this connection to the Temple Mount that gives the wall it’s religious significance, there are certain restrictions that do not allow anyone to enter unless it is for either political or security reasons. This means that the wall is the holiest area in which the Jewish peoples are permitted to pray. The site isn’t just important to the Jewish but also to Christians, due to it’s ties with the old testament, and the followers of Islam. It is believed that it was hear that the Prophet Muhammed tied Al-Buraq, his steed, on his night journey to the city of Jerusalem before he ascended to paradise.