The Subcontinent is undoubtedly a sacred spot, as millions journey to behold the holy surrounds and treasures from the Buddhist monasteries of the Himalayas to the lavish & colourful temples of Sri Lanka, and the prominent sights in India that hold so dear to the millions of Hindus across the country.
Traditions stay strong in these parts of the world, and here's just a few of our favourite choices:
Ganges River, India
This is the river that is central to India’s sense of itself, a river that’s the nation’s spiritual backbone. From its source high in the Himalayas, the river runs diagonally from west to east, flowing out into the Bay of Bengal 1,560 miles later. Along its holy path lie arguably India’s most sacred cities: Haridwar, Varanasi and Allahbad. Head north to Haridwar & Rishikesh to experience the Ganges at its freshest and cleanest, it’s here, that you’ll observe the moving Aarti Ceremony at dusk, where candles set in Diyas (tiny boats made from flowers), float in their swarms down the river, carrying with them the hopes and prayers of millions.
Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
North of the Hill Country, in one of the driest parts of the country, lays the original heart of Sri Lankan civilisation. During the golden age of Sinhalese civilisation, it was called Rajarata: The Land of Kings. For 1500 years of dynasties, wars, invasions and religious missions to Asia, increasingly ambitious dams and irrigation systems supported these two great cities, housing many magnificent examples of the region’s Buddhist culture. Nearby is the former Kingdom of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage that’s the site of the ‘Temple of the Tooth’ which is regarded as one of the holiest temples in the country, a place where the tooth relic of the lord Buddha is believed to be enshrined.
Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan
Bhutan, the last Shangri-La, a place that measures its Gross Domestic Product in happiness. Bhutan, being a strong Buddhist nation has many iconic temples nestled high in the mountains, but Tiger's Nest Monastery is possibly the most magical. This tumble-tiered fortress of white-washed walls and fluted roofs dangles precariously above the Paro Valley. It’s built on the site of a sacred cave, which Guru Rinpoche (meaning “precious one”) was said to have flown to on the back of a tiger. This specific cave is opened for public viewing only once a year.
Jokhang & Potala Palaces, Tibet
Perched high on a hill at the end of a long valley, the Potala is one of the more striking sights in the world. A calm, solemn place, it acts as a moving reminder that something essential has been missing from Tibetan life since the Dalai Lama fled in 1959. Jokhang Temple, in the centre of old Lhasa, is proof that the nation’s spiritual life still goes on. It’s a colour-splash of prayer flags and trinket stalls where monks and farmers jostle for position on the pilgrim path that surrounds it. Its spiritual heart sits a temple, where each morning crimson-robed monks chant in the warm glow of a thousand yak-butter candles.
Travel tip shared by Inspirational Travel