It is time to take up the baton and explore even more pilgrimage paths for the tourist to follow. In this edition we traverse through India, China and Spain amongst other thrilling places. So, gather up your bags, put on your hiking boots and grab your trusty staff as we follow paths well and truly trodden.
China – Wutai Mountains
This is probably one of the hardest pilgrimages in terms of human endurance there is in the world. To complete this ancient pilgrimage, it is necessary to ascend five mountain peaks which are 3000 meters high. Wutai is the most revered mountain in China for Buddhists of Tibet and Mongolia. Established right back in the 4th century is this unbelievable centre. The 108 steps between the two temples at Taihuai symbolise 108 earthly concerns that the pilgrim casts off with each step. The trail is full of mountain monasteries and temples in the valleys and one not to be missed is the White Stupa at Taihuai.
India – Amarnath Cave
This pilgrimage trail is only just 50 kilometres long, but it is one of most challenging. It starts from Pahalgam in Kashmir and the high-altitude trail (4,000 meters above sea level) is endured by nearly a million Hindus every year. The destination is a cave in the Lidder Valley which contains a sacred stalagmite which is a representation of the god Shiva. Hidden in the cave is supposedly the secret of creation and also eternity. This pilgrimage is only possible during the summer for obvious reasons, it can take easily five days and you must be physically fit to attempt it.
Italy – St Francis Way
A medieval masterpiece of a religious walk between two of the most iconic places in Italy, namely Rome and Florence. These 300 kilometres takes you through marvellous Umbrian country following the footsteps of St Francis of Assisi. Starting at Santa Croce, the traveller will pass through Assisi and Gubbio amongst other charming towns along the way to the eternal city. The terrain in this part of Italy can be a little hilly but the views can also be spectacular. The fantastic food and wine to be had walking this trail are two reasons alone why one would endure this pilgrimage. You need to denote around a fortnight should you undertake to take this trail on foot, it may be tough, but it is a walk of a lifetime.
These pilgrimages were once the domain of only the religious in past times. People who were showing their faith by the way they lived and the things that they did. However, this is not to say it is solely the domain of theirs today, times are changing, and the modern tourist thinks differently. Many tourists are looking at old pilgrimage trails in history books and religious atlases and are now following in their forefather’s footsteps. There are plenty more things to do and see than religious places and artefacts. These trails are abounding with incredible scenery, wonderful culture and friendly people.