Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Friday, June 19, 2015



Here's a story you might have missed. Last week, ten tourists were arrested in Malaysia, charged with inciting an earthquake. See, the group had climbed to the top of Mount Kinabalu, to see the views from the top of the 13,435 foot peak. Next, they stripped bare for the ever-popular Nude Internet Selfie. When a 6.0 earthquake struck the region on the same day, local officials concluded the sacred mount was angry at the tourist's disrespectful display and vented. To help our readers avoid similar situations, we listed the Top Ten Most Sacred Sites Worldwide.

#10. Mt. Kinabalu, Malaysia. Borneo is the third largest island in the world. Malaysia owns the upper third, called Sabaha. Legends tell of a young wife, Kinabalu, who sat on the mountaintop for years. She gazed into the distant South China Sea, hoping for her husband's return. She died, and the spirit of the mountain was touched by her loyalty. So when these nutty tourists stripped naked, this spirit got angry! 

#9. Mount Parnassus, Greece. This peak is home to Apollo, our favorite Greek God. He channels his infinite wisdom to humans through the Oracle of Delphi, who lived on the mountain's steep slopes. In ancient times, Athenians would consult the wise woman for advice before making a big decision. Prior to declaring war on Sparta or colonizing Cappadocia, a King would travel to Delphi first. Today, only the Castalian Spring remains. Drinking these sacred waters will inspire your poetic and artistic side.

#8. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala. After the Ice Age, three separate volcanic calderas merged to form this amazing body of water. At 5,000 feet, yet deep in the tropics, a unique fog forms along the shores. Called Xocomil by the Maya, it was deemed sacred to breathe this damp air. Thousands of Mayans still do every day. Alexander Von Humboldt called Atitlán "the world's most beautiful lake" and author Aldous Huxley said it put "Lake Como to shame."

#7. Mount Sinai, Egypt. A couple thousand years ago, a middle aged man named Moses came upon this remote desert peak. As you know, God presented him with the Ten Commandments, and people have been coming here ever since. Today, you'll find a Christian monastery, a Jewish Temple and an Islamic mosque.

#6. Mount Kailash, Tibet. At 21,778 feet, this proud mountain is the tallest on the list. Nestled deep in the Himalayas, Kailash is near the source of both the Ganges and Indus Rivers. Hindus believe Lord Shiva resides at the summit. Buddhists believe it's the home of Demchok, a revered figure who has found ultimate bliss. Even obscure religions like Jainism and Bön deem this place sacred!

#5. Axum, Ethiopia. When people think of the centers of Christianity, Rome and Jerusalem come to mind. But neither of these cities are home to the sacred Ark of the Covenant. See, back in 586 BC, King Solomon gave the ark to the Queen of Sheba. She took it back to Ethiopia. It resides today, hidden in the Church of Our Lady of Zion. Don't laugh. Ethiopian Orthodox is one of the oldest branches of the Christian faith.

#4. Ayers Rock, Australia. Called Uluru by the locals, it is an obvious point where heaven and earth meet. It juts out of the horribly flat Australian Outback, triumphantly jumping nearly 2,000 feet into the air. To just walk around it takes six miles. Vaparitja, the Aboriginal Creator God, still inhabits the peak. Therefore, no one should ever go to the top. However, twenty years ago, the Anangu Tribe began allowing Westerners to climb it for a $25 dollar donation.

#3. Bodh Gaya, India. In the year 540 BC, Buddha sat underneath a Bodhi tree. Six years later, he achieved his goal: Enlightenment. Since then, this tree has evolved into the most important site in the billion-people strong Buddhist faith. Just make sure you don't visit during the full moon during the month of Vaisakh. You'll be swarmed by pilgrims and more incense than you can imagine!

#2. Wailing Wall, Israel. Constructed by King Herod on the site of King Solomon's temple, only the West-facing side survived the Roman attack on Jerusalem in 70 AD. Immediately afterward, Jewish Rabbis declared the spot to be the closest place pilgrims can go to the Foundation Stone...the holiest site in the faith. If you go, arrive early. Security checkpoints at holy sites in Israel are always hours long.

#1. Mecca, Saudi Arabia. While the other sites on this list will grudgingly allow non-believers access, Holy Mecca is different. All roads have border posts where inspectors demand proof that you are indeed Islamic. Inside, two million residents and fifteen million annual visitors worship at the holiest of all sites, the Kaaba. This cuboid structure is the House of Allah and is the focal point of a Hajj. Let's just hope those silly tourists from Malaysia never try to visit and get naked here!

No comments:

Post a Comment