The sacred locations around the world have always attracted tourists individually or in groups with a target of spiritual attainment. The focus has shifted from material pleasure to religious pilgrimage with a mission of self-actualization and to be very near to the supreme sacred entity.
Some of the famous religious tourism sites are enlisted hereunder:
1) Mecca, Saudi Arabia:
This is the holiest city placed at the helm of Islam. Annual sacred Haj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca touches almost three million. This is the birth place of Prophet Hazrat Muhammad in 570. The prophet brought Mecca under his dominance in 630 destroying and driving away all the pagans declaring it as a seat of Muslim pilgrimage where there exists one and only Allah and Hazrat Muhammad is his prophet. The holiest of holy Muslim site in Mecca is the Kaba, the cubical structure to which every Muslim faces during his/her prayer wherever might be his/her location in the world.
2) Lhasa, Tibet:
Image Source : TibetDiscovery
The sacred city of Lhasa is the home to the political and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, namely the generation of Dalai Lamas since 1600 till Chinese invasion in 1959 when the 14 Dalai Lamas fled the country for a refuge in India. The city of mammoth historical and Buddhist religious importance features UNESCO world heritage sites like Jokhang temple, Norbulingka, Potala palace, Sera and Drepung monasteries. Pilgrims to Lhasa touches a million every year.
This ancient Jewish city has biblical significance centering on the birth and stories of Jesus Christ. According to the Biblical Testaments, it is the most sacred Christian site. The town of Bethlehem is located six miles outskirts of Jerusalem and inhabited by 30000 residents. This 2000- year- old holy city is also the birthplace of David, the crowned king of Israel. The city is thronged by waves of Christian pilgrims during Christmas and Easter, and the church of Nativity is a hot spot as it is thought to be the birthplace of the Lord.
4) Varanasi, India:
Varanasi located by the sacred river Ganges in the northern part of India is not only considered the holiest of all the seven Hindu sites but is also very significant for other religions like Buddhism and Jainism. The legend goes that this 3000- year-old city is also created by the supreme powerful Hindu deity Lord Shiva. The sacred river Ganges flows by this city and it is thought to be the holiest part, and a bath in this river is considered most sacred absolving one of his/her sins. It is also believed that dying on the banks of holy Ganges in Varanasi would ensure entry through the gates of Heaven (Swarg) after life. Thousands of Hindu pilgrims and religious tourists throng this city every year.
5) Vatican City, Rome:
Vatican City located right in the heart of the city of Rome, Italy is the head quarter to Central Authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Both the area and population of Vatican is small spreading over just 110 acre housing only 900 people. Nevertheless, its religious significance is massive in terms of Catholic faith. It is the residential quarter of Pope, the apex person in the Roman Catholic religious and administrative body since 1377. Vatican City features many interesting sites for tourist draw like the Vatican library, St Peters Basilica, Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel.
6) Haifa, Israel:
Image Source : Flickr│Yuval Y
This religious site is the seat of the Bahai faith, which preaches the philosophy of unity, love and divine knowledge and seeks to blend all people belonging to diverse races and culture into one single religion with a common mission. Global unity is the essence of this religion and preached by Prophet Baha Ulla as the most recent independent and religious thinker following the footsteps of lord Krishna, Buddha, Moses, Mohammad and Jesus. Located on the slopes of Mt Carmel and facing the Mediterranean Sea, it is just 56 miles off Tel Aviv!