A pilgrimage is a search or journey to find spiritual or moral significance. It is usually a journey to a location significant to a person’s faith and beliefs, such as a religious monument or shrine. The shrine may have some spiritual meaning, such as the location of the death or birth of saints or other religious leaders, to locations where a deity may have lived, or to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed. People from numerous religions go on pilgrimages every year, with the Holy Land acting as a focal point for the Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism).
Pros and Cons
Two of the most popular types of pilgrimages are land tours and cruises.
There are pros and cons to each.
On a land tour, you are on and off a bus almost every day, and some days will require a long time on the bus to arrive at the next destination. For those who suffer from motion sickness, an extended period on a bus may be a problem. Typically the bus leaves around 6 a.m. to arrive at the next place by mid-day, so you will also have to get up early. Still, a land tour allows you to see inner towns and cities and landscapes that you wouldn’t see on a cruise. Cruises tend to be all inclusive, but also tend to be more expensive. Cruises provide specialized restaurants, have entertainment, and allow for a high standard of living which many people are accustomed to.
One of the most popular destinations for pilgrimages is the Holy Land. It is a term used by Muslims, Christians, and Jews to define the area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. It is significant because is where Jerusalem is located, the historical region of Jesus’s ministry and the holiest city to Judaism. Pilgrims visit the Holy Land to see physical manifestations of their faith, connect personally to the Holy Land, and confirm their beliefs. For Muslims, Mecca is perhaps the most popular destination. It is an obligation of every able-bodied Muslim to journey to the Hajj in Mecca at least once in their lifetime.
The Road Less Travelled
The Holy Land and Mecca receive most of the publicity for pilgrimage travels, but there are numerous places around the world that attract pilgrims every year. One of those places is Japan’s Kumano Kodo. Possibly one of the most overlooked treks on the planet, the hike includes rich cultural insight into Japan, delicious local food, and hot springs retreats. The pilgrimage has been in operation for over 1,000 years, but is relatively unknown to most international travellers, who consider Osaka or Kyoto a far enough journey. It is one of only two world pilgrimages registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Costs and Savings
It is difficult to say with certainty how much a pilgrimage will cost, because the needs and expectations of each traveller varies significantly. For Muslims living in North America who wish to journey to Mecca, the average cost is around $4, 000. Anyone who wishes to go on that pilgrimage must travel with a group that is registered with the Saudi Ministry of Hajj. Dar El Salam, one of the groups that organize these pilgrimages, has all sorts of packages, some of which include transportation, food, hotels, and airfare. One of the most popular packages costs $15 000.