Lhasa, Tibet

Mystical Asia: Five sacred places

Asia is breathtaking and enigmatic. The continent is full of mysteries, and at the same time, it seems that it is able to provide answers to the most important questions. Five sacred places to see with your own eyes are listed below.

Lhasa, Tibet

Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, Tibet
Jokhang Temple, Lhasa, Tibet

Lhasa is legendary: supposedly the monks have been living there for 5,000 years, some of them are said to be able to climb into the air and fly when meditating. Everything beyond the traditional and understandable is there. It’s the essence of mysticism. «Lhasa» literally means «the place of the gods». The heart and the soul of Tibet. The Dalai Lama’s residence. The place of pilgrimage. The Lhasa’s Spiritual Center is the Jokhang Temple, the oldest, the most sacred, the most visited temple in Tibet. Enigmatic semidark, the incense smoke of incense and oil lamps, magnificent gold Buddha statues… and thousands of people. Almost everyone who comes in here walks around the holy places. There are three circular routes: The Nangkor cycle in the Jokhang Temple, the Barkhor street in the old City and the outer Lingkor circle around the town. Pilgrims read the mantras moving in a clockwise direction, and the prayer drums are busted.

The Valley of the pitchers, Laos

Valley of the Pitchers, Laos
Valley of the Pitchers

In the province of Xiengkhouang, near the foot of Annamese Mountains, dividing Laos and Vietnam, is one of the strangest and mysterious places on the planet — a valley strewn with thousands of huge stone pots. The size of pitchers is between half and three meters, and the weight reaches 6,000 kilograms. Scientists determine the age of artifacts between 1,500 and 2000 years. There are many versions of the purpose of containers: Some of them were to have collected rainwater for the caravans, others were used for burial rituals … And the locals believe in a legend: a long time ago the Giants were living there. The reason why they had left their places is still supposed to remain a puzzle.

Varanasi, India

Varanasi, India
Varanasi, India

A genuine India, not a touristic, shocking and amazingly poignant. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, the age of Varanasi city is about 3,000 years old. Center of the Earth, the holy place for Hindus (almost the same as the Vatican city for Catholics). There comes some kind of borderline between physical reality and eternal life — the gods descend to the Earth, and the mere mortals find a bliss. According to Hindu’s beliefs, bathing in the waters of sacred Ganges washes off all sins. The man who would be burnt down there (and spread over those waters) shall escape the everlasting circle of rebirth and shall be saved. Pilgrims from all over India are flocking here. Day by day, more and more foreigners have been joining them. The main activity place is embankments along the West Bank of the river and ghats (broad ladders leading down to the water). There are 84 ghats in Varanasi. Two of them are intended for a ritual funeral with the cremation of the bodies. For millennia, the fire has been burning day and night. The body of a dead man wrapped in a shroud and decorated with flowers is waiting for their «turn», while the relatives are wailing. In two footsteps, the sick people are waiting for their last hour. Young and healthy, old and feeble go to the water to do ablution. Once, the Discovery Channel making a movie about Varanasi, submitted to a water research. The conclusion of the lab was overwhelming: one drop contained a list of potentially dangerous infections. Thousands of people dipped there every day. And don’t get hurt.

Jangtsa Dumgtseg Lhakhang, Bhutan

Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang, Bhutan
Jangtsa Dumtseg Lhakhang, Bhutan

On the edge of a hill between the Paro valley and the Dopchari valley, across the bridge from Paro, a famous lama Tangtong Gyalpo, has built an atypical temple in 1421. It is chorten-shaped. The base is the magic Mandala. Three levels represent three levels of Buddhist worlds — Hell, Land, and Heaven. According to the legend, the temple was built to subdue a «serpentine force» of the demon located at the foundation of the chorten. It is said that the demon lives on this hill now, actually, he is the hill, and the magical power of the temple does not allow him to come. According to tradition, there is no light inside the Temple. To see the unique sculptures and murals, you should use flashlights or candles. The locals believe that the people who got there, have an epiphany, the karmic slate becomes clean and diseases are cured.

Salpa Lake, Nepal

Salpa is located in the Solukhumbu District in the mountains at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters. The lake is supposed to be capable of reinforcing magical abilities and is the gateway to the spirit world. It is known first of all, for the day of the last spring Full moon, when Nepali shamans dzakri are flocking from all the country. The holiday starts with the lake welcoming and the sacrifices, followed by the Salpa dedication accompanied by the throwing rice and rhododendron flowers. The most beautiful ceremony is the fulfillment of desires when anyone can ask the Salpa spirits and under the chants of the shamans, sends some personal artifact to swim. It is said that the wishes come true within a year.

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