Some caves are considered holy by religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
Caves are important archeological sites that provided us invaluable knowledge of the past. Caves are also economically important because many caves are major sources of guano. Likewise, many caves are popular tourist destinations. On the other hand, there are also caves which are considered holy by some religious groups. Here are five holy caves from different part of the world.
One cave regarded as holy in Malaysia is the Batu Caves. This holy cave is a limestone hill, which has a series of caves and cave temples, located in Kuala Lumpur- the capital of Malaysia. The cave is one of the most popular Hindu shrines outside India, dedicated to god Murugan. It is the focal point of the annual Thaipusam festival in Malaysia and attracts over more than 1.5 million pilgrims, making it one of the largest gatherings in History.
Cave of the Patriarchs
The picture above is the enclosure of the Cave of the Patriarchs. The Cave of the Patriarchs is considered holy for the Jews, Christians and Muslims. It is a series of subterranean caves located in a complex called by Muslims the Ibrahimi Mosque or Sanctuary of Abraham. The name is either a reference to the layout of the burial chamber, or alternatively refers to the biblical couples, i.e.: cave of the tombs of couples. The compound is located in the ancient city of Hebron. The 3 religious groups maintain the same traditions that the site is the burial place of four Biblical couples: (1) Adam and Eve; (2) Abraham and Sarah; (3) Isaac and Rebekah; (4) Jacob and Leah. According to Midrashic sources the Cave of the Patriarchs also contains the head of Esau and according to some Islamic sources it is also the tomb of Joseph.
Amarnath Caves are one of the most famous shrines in Hinduism, dedicated to the god Shiva. The caves are located in the Jammu and Kashmir. The shrine is claimed to be over 5,000 years old and forms an important part of ancient Hindu mythology. Inside the main Amarnath cave lays an ice stalagmite resembling the Shiva Linga, which waxes during May to August and gradually wanes thereafter. This lingam is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching its height during the summer festival. According to Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. There are two other ice formations representing Parvati and Ganesha, Shiva’s son.
Holy Cave of Matale
For Buddhists, the Holy Cave of Matale is the most holy of all the caves in the whole island of Sri Lanka. Two thousands years ago a small group of Theravada Buddhist Monks gathered there for several years to inscribe the entire Pali Tipitaka in Ola Leaves, a crucial historical act which sustain the original textual teaching of the Buddha to this day.
Other caves considered holy in India are the Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, India. These are rock-cut cave monuments dating from the 2nd century BCE, containing paintings and sculpture considered to be masterpieces of both Buddhist religious art and universal pictorial art. The Ajanta Caves have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
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