Buddhism

Buddhism

To be ‘an awakened one’ is to be a Buddha. ‘The Buddha’ generally refers to Gautama Buddha who lived approximately 2500 years ago. He is said to have become enlightened after meditating for 49 days beneath a fig tree. After which, he became a great teacher, founded a monastic order and spent his life sharing what he learned with his followers. The religion known as Buddhism is based on his teachings through oral traditions and then what was written down 400 years later. In Buddhism, there is no worship of a deity. At its most basic, Buddhist teachings are shaped around overcoming human suffering and gaining enlightenment through following the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

Buddhist Temples

Buddhist Temples

I was first struck by the grandeur and beauty of Buddhist temples when I did a blog on one of Myanmar’s thousands of temples, the very famous Shwedagon Pagoda. Awe-inspiring, these temples bring millions of visitors to a variety of places around the world every year, from the biggest Buddhist Temple in the world located in Java, Indonesia — Borobudur — to the ancient Todaiji Temple in Japan, built in the 8th Century. 

India

India

‘Diverse’ is perhaps the best word to describe the sub-continent of India. With a massive coastline, over 1.3 billion people and a history that reaches back to the ancient Indus Civilization, you have a country that cannot be summed up easily. Though Hindi is the official language, the constitution recognizes 22 other languages with English given a ‘subsidiary language status’ because of its extensive use in business. India is also home to the Himalayan mountains as well as tropical jungles. Every major religion has found its way to this beautiful country as well, though Hinduism is practiced by 79% of the population.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal

As majestic and beautiful as the exterior elevation is of the Taj Mahal, so is the intricate and finely crafted interior decoration of this incredible Indo-Islamic mausoleum. It is no wonder that the Taj Mahal sees as many as eight million visitors each year or that it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The cost for creating a similar structure, with such an incredible level of craftsmanship, in today’s currency would approach one billion US dollars. The second video below features amazing photographs of the interior decoration. 

The White Bengal Tiger

The White Bengal Tiger

It’s believed that only 2500 Bengal tigers exist in the wild throughout the world today. With only 1 in every 10,000 births resulting in the unique pigmentation that produces a white Bengal tiger, the species as a whole is endangered. The white tiger is not a sub-species of the Bengal tiger, but is considered the same species. A white tiger is born when the recessive genes of the parents get together and create a loss of pigmentation in the fur. Bengal tigers in the wild are threatened by poaching and loss of habitat that eliminates their traditional prey.

Cumbria

Cumbria

The Lake District, Herdwick sheep, William Wordsworth, ancient stone henges, gorgeous lake-after-lake, amazing hiking trails, the tallest mountain in England, Hadrian’s Wall, friendly pubs and tons of B & Bs. It’s no wonder over fifteen million people visit this northwesterly part of England each year. At times, the mountainous land is rugged. At other times, it’s a lovely glide of picturesque farms dotted with sheep. Beautiful Cumbria.

The Lake District

The Lake District

In 1820, William Wordsworth published his ‘Guide through the District of the Lakes’ which began a popular and ongoing movement to experience this extraordinary and beautiful part of the English countryside. Over 15 million people visit this area each year.

Herdwick Sheep

Herdwick Sheep

At Yew Tree Farm in Coniston, Cumbria, you can enjoy a ‘Herdwick sheep experience’ at a place once owned by Beatrix Potter. Though I embarked on this blog topic for the simple reason that I found the Herdwick sheep adorable and the setting of the Lake District picturesque beyond words, I soon discovered that Herdwick sheep were a lifetime passion of Beatrix’s. She raised them and showed them and won numerous awards. Upon her passing she donated several farms to Britain’s National Trust in order to help preserve these unique sheep and their place in British history documented since the 12th century.

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Sierra Nevada Mountains

As home to three national parks, the highest point in the contiguous United States, and the highest alpine lake in the country ~ Lake Tahoe ~ The Sierra Nevada Mountains is one of the world’s great natural beauties. The range is 400 miles long and a band along its western slopes is home to the most massive trees in the world ~ the giant sequoia. 

Yosemite

Yosemite

The Ahwahnechee people, who first inhabited Yosemite Valley as far back as 3000 years ago, said of Bridalveil Falls that breathing the mist would increase the chance of marriage. Yosemite, especially the valley of the same name, is full of magic, wonder and sheer grandeur. On one side is the iconic El Capitan granite monolith and on the other, farther down the valley is famous Half Dome. With so much natural beauty and diversity, it’s no wonder that Yosemite sees as many as five million visitors each year.