Stories Of Spiritual Travel Experiences From Travellers Across The World
Be it accidental, a fortuitous coincidence or simply something meant to be, we all experience different forms of spirituality at some point in our lives. Even if you’re not by nature a spiritual person, one can always appreciate different cultures and celebrations. And that is exactly why us travel bloggers love to traverse the globe so that we can experience these wonderful moments and tell a story. Here are some spiritual travel experiences as told by those fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time.
SPIRITUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES #1
by Kartika Nair @ Ingenious Katty
This was the time I visited the most divine and spiritual destination in India, Rishikesh. No matter how atheistic you are when you’re in Rishikesh, you are going to find a certain sense of holiness within you. This place has an abundance of Hindu temples and people visit here to take a dip in the holiest river of India, Ganga. Worshippers believe it will clear them of all sins.
Rishikesh also has many ashrams where you can practice yoga, cleanse your soul, and feel spiritual calmness, hence dubbing it as the “Yoga Capital of the World.” This fair city is filled with tourists from all around the world and Hindu pilgrims.
Around 6 in the morning and evening there is a ritual called Arti which is performed by the river banks in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) or camphor is offered to the river Ganga. These are the most spiritual travel experiences you can ever have the pleasure of being exposed to. Watching this ritual will make you a believer. I was blessed to have this opportunity.
SPIRITUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES #2
Nyepi Celebrations in Bali, Indonesia.
by Tamara Belinda @ World Wide Curls
If you love the calm and peace provided on any given Sunday, then you will love being in Bali on Nyepi. While Bali is known as a spiritual haven filled with sacred temples, forests, and waters, it is a completely different experience to be in Bali and participate in Nyepi. Nyepi is a public holiday also known as Silence Day celebrated mainly in Bali, Indonesia. It is a day of self-reflection, fasting and meditation. There are several restrictions for this holiday, the main and heavily enforced ones being that the roads are kept empty and no during of fires. (The Balinese burn their rubbish) Even the only airport on the island shuts down. Others include minimum use of lights, no working, no traveling and for some no speaking. To enhance the dedication to the holiday, this year the internet was turned off for both Wi-Fi and mobile devices. Though Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents and tourists are not exempt from the restrictions. This is a great holiday for any solo traveller as the solitude enhances the purpose of the day.
Since I was visiting Bali alone, I was very excited to participate in this holiday. To be in this beautiful land with only the soundtrack of wind, chirping birds and. On this day, I inadvertently woke up just as the sun was rising in the sky. An unexpected happenstance that I was completely grateful for. At sunrise, my day began with meditation, a practice that I had been enhancing since the beginning of the year. The day continued with various healing practices. Essentially I turned the day into a DIY spa day- facial, hair mask, cleanse and moisturizer, body scrub, and bath soak. As a reward for the mindful practice of this day, and because all external light is off on the island, the sky is so clear that the milky way could be seen. This is a rare experience in Bali since it is very polluted from smoke, vehicle emissions, light and the regularly cloudy skies. So far, this is the most spiritual place I have visited because it allowed for conscious awareness, mindful reflection, and an in-depth look at where I am currently in my life. More places should practice a Day of Silence and reflection, if only to allow people to question their actions and intentions.
SPIRITUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES #3
By Ashleigh Lauren @ Tearavel (travel with the Tall English Adventurers)
Israel is tiny, but it has a large and lengthy history of mighty miracles, myths and legends taking place within its ‘lively’ borders (to say the least!). There are many reasons it’s considered ‘the holy land’. I discovered my own during a special stay in Sefad. Stepping off a 3-hour bus from the ancient walled city of Akko and arriving to the northern province of Sefad, the home of Jewish mysticism and Kabballah, a strong sensation hit me. I was meant to be here. I was not actively seeking a dramatic or ‘out of worldly’ experience. But, that night I dreamt vividly about entering a dark, cavernous tunnel. The visions played so real I woke, terrified, before reaching the end.
It’s difficult to describe ‘a spiritual feeling’. The hairs on your arms stand to attention, your heart pounds faster than usual and the idea you are facing ‘the unknown’ races thorough your mind. The next day, while exploring the stone castle ruins atop the mountain Sefad is steeped on, this was what reached out and grabbed me.
I had been here before.
The deep, gloomy foundations of Sefad’s 1000-year-old citadel were the tunnel-like caves I had entered in my dream. Shaking, I followed the narrow passage to find the end I’d missed the night before. But, it turned out there was no ‘end’, not in the traditional sense, anyway. The path led me to a wide and circular ‘middle’, a dome-shaped, high-ceilinged chamber, where an age old, open-air window letting natural sunbeams flood in from the highest point above was the only source of light. I was in awe.
Coincidence? Cliché? Maybe. But, what cemented the experience was a guy from my hostel over-hearing me tell my tale the following evening and showing me a video of him inside the same dome-like center, singing at the top of his voice earlier in the day. A powerful and tangible presence is to be found in Sefad; a tricky town to leave, because it follows the mountain round and around.
SPIRITUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES #4
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand
by Amy Chung @ Family Globetrotters
The laid back Northern Thai city of Chiang Mai is a stark contrast to that of its hectic sister, Bangkok. Upon arrival we were struck by the sheer number of temples in every corner of this fair city. On our second day in Chiang Mai, we decided to visit Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of Thailand’s most sacred temples. Doi suthep is actually the name of the mountain of which this majestic wat sits.
As I was in holiday mode, I completely forgot it was the first day of Chinese New Year. As we approached the wat, it was filled with worshippers amassing the steep flight of 300 stairs guarded by 16th century Naga (snake) figures. Although I am not a practising Buddhist, I was happy to be spending my first Chinese New Year in the realm of so many worshippers.
As we removed our shoes to enter the upper terrace of bells, golden umbrellas, and small shrines, I was deeply moved by the intensity of the worshippers and the presence of the saffron clad monks. As the Chinese lit their joss sticks in prayer for happiness, prosperity, and longevity, I closed my eyes and breathed in the familiar smells of the fumes.
I was quite overwhelmed by the sheer number of worshippers surrounding the chedi or the stupa. Coupled with its gleaming golden splendour, I felt very privileged to have happenstance upon this day.
As we moved around the wat, we found a smaller room with a beautiful shrine and a praying monk sitting on a pedestal. We walked in and kneeled on the floor in silence. The monk looked up and with his hand, ushered my partner to him. As a Caucasian, he was unsure of what to do but I encouraged him to move forward. Upon reaching the monk, he placed his hand on my partner’s head and blessed him. When he finished, he tied a blessed string bracelet around his wrist. We left the shrine in complete awe of our experience.
I will never forget this day. To be surrounded by devout worshippers and monks on a mountain top amidst one of the most beautiful temple grounds I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
SPIRITUAL TRAVEL EXPERIENCES #5
Myrtidotissas on Kythira, Greece
Elly-Grace Rinaldis @ Watch This Space
Every year, on the 15th of August, the biggest celebrations are performed at the church of Myrtidotissas on Kythira, Greece. This is the name day for Mother Mary and therefore multiple services are held over the weekend to celebrate not only her, but also the icon (gold picture) of her that was found near the church. The picture reveals two faceless figures and is said that if you can see the faces in the icon (Mother Mary and Baby Jesus) than great miracles can happen. There’s no point trying to focus on seeing the faces, it’s just you either see them or you don’t.
Stumbling out of the car I made my way to the entrance of the church where it is tradition to go inside, light a candle for someone and kiss the icon. I looked around at the glorious interior of the church and then at the people inside who were all very dressed, more than me! I stared down at the plain clothes I was wearing (in aid to keep a simple, non-materialistic life) and began to feel like I didn’t belong. At all. I left the church quickly and noticed a smaller church underneath it. This was the original church built on these grounds. I find it difficult to exactly put into words how overwhelmed I felt upon stepping into that smaller enclosed church. An incredible spirit came over me and I had to sit down in awe of it all. You know how they say that when you enter different places you get certain feelings about that place. Well this church was one of those moments where I couldn’t describe how I was feeling but it felt like my whole body was being cleansed and renewed. Although, I didn’t see the faces in the icon that day, I still encountered some truly spiritual travel experiences of overwhelming peace.
From the holiest city of Rishikesh to Northern Thailand’s most revered temple, these spiritual travel experiences bring new light to how we all view and partake in the world’s cultures and religions. We as travel bloggers certainly hope you will experience this at least once in your life.