A pilgrimage can revive you. A pilgrimage can move you. A pilgrimage can change you. It’s what the best of journeys offer. Traditionally, places of worship, even rivers, have been considered holy sites of pilgrimage. Clearly, a ‘pilgrimage’ has been viewed as the sole territory of religious individuals or mystics who seek atonement, enlightenment or divine blessings.
But many amongst us–particularly the young–fervently maintain that certain tourists-frequented places can be just as spiritual an experience. Why not? Spirituality knows no bounds and neither do modern pilgrims. Soulveda explores how visiting an enchanted world, a massive canyon, a tilted tower, a lit-up sky, and a fortified wall can turn into spiritual experiences. These modern pilgrimages might just bring about a broader shift in perspective and a positive twist in thought.
Warner Bros. Studio, London
They call them formative years for a reason: a pre-teen’s mind is impressionable as clay. The Warner Brothers’ Studio in London is nothing short of a dream come true for any Harry Potter fan. Not only does one get to walk past the golden doors, right into The Great Hall, but also be up close to the Gryffindor Common Room, where Harry and Ron once slept. One can feel that hearty warmth from the Weasleys’ home or get a shiver down the spine from seeing Lord Voldemort’s costume. One can walk through the Hogwarts Express, experience Hogwarts in snow, eat chocolate frogs, even drink butterbeer!
You could be in your 20s or 40s; it hardly makes any difference as the crowd collectively oohs and aahs at all the studio has to offer. No one judges you as you pose with the trolley running through Platform Nine and Three-Quarters for a picture. Every Potter fan, irrespective of age, feels a child-like innocence experiencing J K Rowling’s magical imagination. Perhaps, a happy child stirs awake within every adult once they set foot into The Great Hall. After all, it’s an enchanted world.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
We all want to know where we came from. No, not our mothers. Existentially speaking, we want to know how humankind came into being. It’s been our life’s mission to unearth as much information as we can to satiate our curiosity. So, when American explorer John Wesley Powell and his team began excavating The Grand Canyon in Arizona, they had no idea they’d find nearly six million years of Earth’s geological history!
Much of the credit goes to the Colorado River that carves the cliffs and tributaries around it, giving the canyon its grand depth and width, even as it preserves several eras of archaeological history. The canyon naturally conserves fascinating–and incredibly important–evidence of prehistoric life, ancient settlements and little-known civilisations. With fossils of mammoth, Egyptian cave colonies, ancient Native American granaries, and more being unearthed, the region is nothing short of a puzzle that raises more questions than it answers. Clearly, the canyon is a mammoth testament to how vast the nature is and how little we know of our own origin. A trip to the heart of the Grand Canyon is enough to dwarf all human knowledge.
Aurora is a literal reminder of how we can find light even in the darkest of places.