In part one of Pilgrimages: Journeys of Self-Discovery, we looked at Jerusalem, Mecca and Bodh Gaya as spiritual destinations. Wasn’t it a true enlightenment on how different cultures celebrate their beliefs? In part two, the new destinations include India, Spain, and two Camino successors sharing their journey with us!
Locations: Badrinath, Rameswaram, Puri, and Dwarka in India
Char Dham (or ‘the four abodes’) is a pilgrimage of four sacred Hindu sites. The four sites include Badrinath in north India, Rameswaram in the south, Puri in the east, and Dwarka in the west. Do you know what this means? It means that we are about to embark on a short journey through India’s pilgrimage sites!
In the north of India you will see the Badrinath Temple, dedicated to Vishnu. In Hinduism, Vishnu protects the universe from being destroyed.
Now to the South! Rameswaram is, according to legends, where Lord Rama (the seventh incarnation of Vishnu) built a bridge to Lanka.
Located in the east, Puri is one of the oldest east Indian cities. The Jagannath Temple is about 1000 years old and is the only shrine in India where Subhadra, Lord Krishna’s goddess sister, is worshipped with her brothers.
In the west of India, Dwarka, home to the Dwarakadheesh Temple, was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna.
Hindus consider Char Dham highly sacred to visit in their lifetime. It’s a journey to be rid of sin. The 6276km journey is physically and mentally testing, even though pilgrims travel by car and train, not only on foot.
Camino de Santiago
Location: Galicia, Spain
The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage to the traditional burial site of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It’s believed that a boat carried his remains from Jerusalem to northern Spain.
This journey of self-discovery was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages in the medieval period. It was believed to be a way to reduce punishment for sins. Many pilgrims still seek spiritual growth or retreat from modern life on one of the many routes of this pilgrimage. The oldest route, the Camino Primitivo (‘Original Way’) begins in Oviedo, Spain. It was first taken in the 9th century. The most popular routes are Via Regia (Royal Highway), and Camino Francés (French Way). Another popular route is the Portuguese Way.
Walking the Camino
We met up with Lydia and Joachim and asked them a bit about their experience on the Camino.
Where did you begin your journey?
We started our journey in Porto, Portugal, and walked to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We had never been to Portugal and were keen to see this beautiful country. The camino from Porto to Santiago seemed the perfect route for us.
What did you learn about yourself?
I enjoyed having time to think about my family and friends (one always does the camino for loved ones), and about my life in general. Walking all day in nature is quite a meditative experience. I learnt that simplifying life (reducing what I needed for the duration of the trip to the contents of my rucksack) can be very liberating!