Retreats are much more different from vacations. The value of a spiritual retreat can’t be equaled by any other traveling experience. When people become overwhelmed because of the repetitive in their lives, taking a break and focusing on the more spiritual part of their lives could entirely reset the mind and offer them enough power to keep on going.
If you are an advocate of spiritual retreats, you already know how much of an impact they can have. Quiet times do not necessarily have to be in a different location. People can still occupy their time with prayer, meditation, spiritual self-assessment and religious reading at home, but doing so in a place with great spiritual meaning accentuates the effect of these actions. Here are the perfect locations for spiritual dedication:
India – Varanasi
India is one of the few places in the world that can transform a person’s mind, body, and soul after one visit only. Varanasi is an ancient location with a complex culture, a wonderful architecture and an enchanting history. People choose Varanasi to liberate their senses and forget about all the stress that has been accumulating in their lives.
The locals of Varanasi live a life that is close to nature. Whoever is visiting Varanasi should embrace the simplicity of life.
Close to Varanasi, people can visit the Buddhist site of Sarnath where they can find true spiritual resorts. Sarnath is a quiet place that encourages visitors to rediscover themselves. If you seek solace and want to be closer to nature for a while, the experiences in Varanasi could be the ones you look for. Yet if you just want to awake spiritually, while enjoying the best conditions, you should know that Varanasi is full of luxury hotels as well. Depending on your reasons to travel to India, you can choose the accommodation that captures the essence of your spiritual retreat.
Tibet – Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash, known as a sacred land, is an appreciated location for pilgrims of different faiths. It is located in Ngari, a part of the Tibetan plateau. Near Mount Kailash, people can also visit Lake Manasarovar (that includes the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Sutlej and Indus Rivers). Kailash is considered holy for Himalayan locals and the ambiance there encourages contemplation and spiritual purification.
The view from Mount Kailash is stunning, making it a popular attraction for tourists who just want to relax as well. People who visit this sacred land for spiritual purposes usually participate in circumambulation, which represents the act of walking around the mountain. This is the form of prayer that pilgrims adopt when visiting Mount Kailash.
In Tibet, the circle is also a symbol of the life cycle. Keep in mind that visiting Mount Kailash is not for everyone because it requires physical fitness. It is recommended to hire a guide that lived in the ashrams for quite a while and knows his way around the sacred land. This place has a transformative power that all people who seek spiritual self-realization should experience on their own.
Saudi Arabia – Makkah
Makkah in Saudi Arabia is the holiest land in Islamic culture. The pilgrimage that gathers together thousands of people to Makkah is called the Hajj. According to the Islamic culture, all Muslims should go to Makkah at least once in a lifetime, to prove their faith. The year when Muslims should visit Makkah is a year of prosperity when both health and wealth are promising. The Hajj is an opportunity to get closer to the House of God (Kaaba). Makkah is a spiritual retreat destination throughout the whole year, as Muslims can visit it for a lesser pilgrimage (the Umrah).
The Umrah is less strict in terms of rituals than the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims who want to visit the Sacred Mosque can do it at any time by performing Umrah. Because Hajj is more time-consuming and it involves a lot of effort to complete all the symbolic rituals, pilgrims should find a comfortable place to stay for the entire period of Hajj. Luckily, Saudi Arabia is well-known for the many sumptuous hotels it hosts. Pilgrims can be accommodated at a luxury hotel in Makkah during Hajj or Umrah, which transforms the experience in a comfortable one besides a spiritually-fulfilling one.
Greece – Mount Parnassus
Mount Parnassus is a mythological place that was mentioned numerous times in most Greek legends. This sacred place hosts the ruins of Delphi, a famous ancient shrine. Parnassus was the name of a child born by a nymph. The land was described as the home of Pythia, the Oracle of Delphi. Because of the great meaning it holds, thousands of tourists visit Mount Parnassus each year, for both leisure and spiritual purposes. Mount Parnassus is an attraction for all tourists because of how impressive and well-preserved the ruins are.
In ancient legends, the site belonged to Gaia, the Goddess of Earth. The Delphic Oracle was protected by a serpent guardian called Python, a son of Gaia’s. In Greek culture, Mount Parnassus was the home of Muses. This is the reason why many poets visit this location to regain their inspiration. The mythic associations of Mount Parnassus with divine power and enchanted gods transform it in a top spiritual destination for retreats.
Egypt – Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai, also known as Jebel Musa, is a sacred place in Egypt. The mountain itself is a pilgrimage site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. All three faiths consider Mount Sinai a holy place, and this is the main reason why it is frequently selected as a spiritual retreat destination. Mount Sinai is full of sacred shrines.
Hiking to the top of Mount Sinai takes a few hours and camping is permitted near the monastery. This location is close to Cairo and the site is constantly improved to make it easier for pilgrims to reach it. Once reaching the top of Mount Sinai, pilgrimages can visit either the Chapel of the Holy Trinity or the mosque. Mount Sinai is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which makes tourists all around the world curious about this holy place.