It’s not easy being a modern Homo sapiens. Sure, we have things like penicillin, Netflix and the Big Mac; but we also suffer from disillusion, alienation and ennui. If you’re one of millions who feel the frenetic pace of modern life has sapped your soul, crushed your qi or overloaded you with negative orgones, perhaps it’s time to consider a spiritual recharge. Here are 6 of the best places for doing just that:
It’s not easy being a modern Homo sapiens. Sure, we have things like penicillin, Netflix and the Big Mac; but we also suffer from disillusion, alienation and ennui. If you’re one of millions who feel the frenetic pace of modern life has sapped your soul, crushed your qi or overloaded you with negative orgones, perhaps it’s time to consider a spiritual recharge.
Here are 6 of the best places for doing just that:
Bodhi Tree (India)
If you suspect the key to inner peace lies down a strictly Buddhist path, the Bodhi Tree in India may be your best bet. Housed in the temple complex of Mahabodhi, this unassuming fig tree is said to be a direct descendent of the very one the Buddha sat beneath to achieve enlightenment. Allegedly over two thousand years old, the Bodhi Tree is a focal point for pilgrims, who swarm here from across the globe in search of wisdom. Sacred, humble and thrumming with spiritual energy, a visit to the Bodhi Tree may well make a convert of you.
Shikoku Temple Pilgrimage (Japan)
If the Bodhi Tree seems a little easy, you could always try the 88 Temple Circuit on the Japanese island of Shikoku; a 1,500km circular trek taking in stunning scenery, magnificent wilderness and, well, 88 temples. According to Buddhist doctrine, there are 88 evil passions that can corrupt your path to enlightenment, but fear not: a visit to each of these temples in turn should rid you of them. Situated in one of the most beautiful corners of Japan, the circuit takes in vast, untamed forests and unforgettable mountain peaks. For the full experience, try it on foot. Go ahead, we dare you.
Mecca (Saudi Arabia)
Off-limits to non-Muslims, Mecca nonetheless deserves a place on any list of spiritual destinations. A surreal blending of capitalist opulence and ancient religious iconography, Mecca appears like a dream from the Saudi wilderness and only feels more hallucinatory inside. Watching pilgrims circle the Kaaba shrine in their thousands is undoubtedly a breath-taking experience, while the devout will find much to soothe their troubled souls. The rest of us will have to be content viewing the stunning Masjid al-Haram mosque in pictures, but even then the undeniable power of the site still, somehow, seeps through.
The Atacama Desert (Chile)
OK, so maybe your interests lie in a distinctly non-religious direction. Where better, then, to seek solace than the awe-inspiring vistas, haunted desolation and utter solitude of the Atacama Desert? Chile’s barren interior is almost austere in its beauty and still largely untouched. Here, giant telescopes scour the sky for the edges of the universe; settlements remain preserved centuries after being abandoned and legends swirl around jagged peaks like stories round a campfire. As one of the most profoundly silent places on Earth, offering dozens of beautiful places to stay, a visit to the Atacama Desert is unlikely to ever be forgotten.
Crouched in the middle of the outback, many hundred miles from anywhere, sits Australia’s worst kept secret. The world heritage site of Uluru is simply stunning: a magical plateau that rises from the Earth, turning blood red at sunset as if alive with ghostly energy. The local Anagu people have many legends about its spiritual properties, and even the first white colonists ascribed strange powers to it. Watching it at sunset, it’s not had to see why: if aliens ever decide to visit Earth, Uluru will undoubtedly be their landing spot.
Chi Lin Nunnery (Hong Kong)
Amid the steel and glass of Hong Kong’s high rises hides a tranquil little secret; or rather two. The Chi Lin Nunnery and adjacent Nan Lian Gardens somehow manage to eclipse the bustle of this maddest of cities, transporting you back to a quieter, simpler time. Made from interlocking wood joints, symbolising human harmony with nature, the Nunnery is a staggering feat of engineering, but even this pales beside the sheer elegance of the gardens. It is said that Hong Kong is the land where East meets West, and travelers to the Chi Lin Nunnery would be hard-pressed to disagree. Seekers of spiritual recharge can enjoy the modernity and luxury of a Western hotel (try the Harbour Plaza Metropolis with HotelClub.com), while still benefiting from the tranquility and seclusion of this most beautiful of retreats. Almost invisible from outside, deeply serene and overflowing with romantic locales, it’s the ideal place to kick back, unwind, and soak up the silence.
This article was written by Tom, a keen traveler who enjoys nothing more than a holiday that leaves body and soul rejuvenated.