Pivotal Places of Pilgrimage – Part 3

Golden Temple

Region: Amritsar, Punjab, India

Religion: Sikh

A truly grand design, the Golden Temple, also referred to as Darbar Sahib, is the most significant and holiest Gurdwara to the people who follow the Sikh religion. It a hugely important site of pilgrimage and has somewhere around 100,000 visitors passing through its doors in order to visit the holy shrine every day. The temple was originally built in the late 1500s, though it has been rebuilt several times since due to conflicts with Muslim armies from Afghanistan as well as the Mughal Empire. It was last rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh using marble and copper in the year 1809, in 1830 gold leaf was used to overlay the walls which is how it earned the name. Around the temple sits a manmade body of water named the Amrit Sarovar (Pool of Nectar) and inside the building you will find the Guru Granth Sahib, which is the holy text of Sikhism. Perhaps the most notable operation here at the Golden Temple is the Sikh community run kitchen which gives out free meals to around 3,500 people in need.

Lutherstadt Wittenberg

Region: Saxony-Anhalt, Germany

Religion: Protestantism

There is perhaps no more important a figure in the Protestant faith than Martin Luther and it was here in Wittenberg that he first made his major waves throughout the Christian world. He took a pilgrimage to Rome in hopes of feeling the presence of God, instead he was appalled by what he saw. He believed that the authorities of the Catholic faith were taking advantage of their position, most notably by selling ‘indulgences’ to the rich. Supposedly in 1517 he nailed his now famous 95 thesis to the door of the All Saints Church here in Wittenberg, which marked the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. The town saw much destruction during the events of the 7 Years War, since then the church has been restored and now has the words of the thesis inscribed into its doors. Inside you can find the tomb of Martin Luther where the man was buried, you will also find the tombs of both Frederick the Wise and Phillip Melanchthon who were also both important figures amongst the faith. Other Important sites in Wittenberg include Luther’s restored home as well as St Mary’s Church, in which Luther preached, it was also here that the man was married and baptized his children.

Meiji Shrine

Region: Tokyo, Japan

Religion: Shinto

Surrounded by the hyper-modern bustling city of Tokyo sits the Meiji Shrine. Unlike the urban world around it, the Meiji Shrine is a 150 acre stretch of peaceful, green land for people to escape in. The shrine is dedicated to Japan’s first modern Emperor, the Emperor Meiji. The area can be visited by all and is as much a place to enjoy the world around you as it is to honour the Shinto beliefs. The inner precinct is named the Naien, this is centred on the shrine building but also has a treasure museum which holds the articles of the Emperor and Empress for all to see.

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