Hidden Jersey: Holy Places

Feel spiritual at these unique holy places.

Photo courtesy of NJ Buddhist Vihara & Meditation Center.

New Jersey Buddhist Vihara & Meditation Center
4299 Route 27, Princeton (Mercer County)
You don’t have to travel to East Asia to see a giant Buddha. Princeton is home to an all-white, 30-foot-tall Samadhi Buddha statue that’s said to be the largest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Visitors are invited to pray, meditate or simply gaze at the cement, brick and steel marvel, completed in 2009. Started by the Venerable Hungampola Sirirathana Nayaka Thero—a Buddhist monk—the adjacent meditation center hosts festivals and offers guided meditation sessions. 732-821-9346.—BM

Harleigh Cemetery
1640 Haddon Avenue, Camden (Camden County)
Laid out in 1885, this 150-acre cemetery reflects the 19th-century belief that graveyards should be like public parks, offering a bucolic oasis for visitors. Markers of carved angels, Celtic crosses and even a life-sized bronze elk grace the thousands of unique gravesites, which include the 1892 tomb of Walt Whitman, a heavy granite vault designed by the poet himself, and the modern harp-like headstone of haiku poet Nick Virgilio. 856-963-3500.—JPC

Ramapough Indian Altar
189 Stag Hill Road,  Mahwah (Bergen County)
Members of the Ramapough Lenape tribe worship at a longhouse constructed of colorful, totem pole-like carved logs. Nearby, on the banks of the  gurgling Ramapo River, stands a bow-shaped altar—a wall of stones to which all are welcome to add. Each stone represents a prayer; find or bring one, say what you wish for, and lay the stone. The west side of the altar is for the spiritual (love, faith), the east for the physical (rent money, a vacation). Positive energy abounds.—TLG

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