One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, Bodhgaya is a village in the state of Bihar. It was here under the Bodhi tree that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The place is bustling with pilgrims all through the year who come to pay their homage in the monasteries, shrines and temples. It also attracts tourists from India and abroad owing to its magnificent Buddha statue, the Mahabodhi Temple and the Bodhi tree.
Bodh Gaya is the very place that houses the Mahabodhi tree, under which Gautam Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment. The mahabodhi temple built near the Mahabodhi tree is highly revered and it is an enriching experience to visit the temple. One can still find the remnants and descendants of the original Mahabodhi Tree. Bodh Gaya is the single biggest pilgrimage for all sects of Buddhists throughout the world. It is now one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a lot of foreign countries including Japan and China have helped the Indian government in building facilities for the Buddhist pilgrims. Bodh Gaya also has other various temples and monasteries dedicated to Buddhism. Located near the river Neranjana, Bodh Gaya was earlier known as Uruwela. It was also known as Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi until the 18th century CE. A trip to Bodh Gaya provides valuable insights into the culture of Indian religious philosophies and also showcases some architectural masterpieces that would leave one spellbound.
The Mahabodhi temple, also called the “Great Awakening Temple”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Bodhgaya, Bihar. It is a Buddhist temple that marks the location where the Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. Lord Buddha holds a very significant place in the religious history of India as he is believed to be the 9th and the most recent incarnation of Lord Vishnu to have walked the earth. The temple spreads over an area of a whopping 4.8 hectares and is 55 meters tall. The Bodhi Tree is situated to the left of the temple and is believed to be the direct descendant of the actual tree under which Lord Gautam Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment and laid down his philosophy for life. The original temple was built by Emperor Ashoka after he turned to Buddhism in order to seek peace and solitude from war and conquests.
The great Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya in around 260 BC. During his visit, he constructed a small temple by a tree, which was the Bodhi tree- the tree under which Gautam Buddha was sitting when he attained enlightenment. An inscription dated back to between 1st century and 2nd century read that the temple built by Emperor Ashoka was replaced by a new one. Many monks and devotees can be seen performing countless prostrations to the tree. It’s a purificatory ritual, and some monks are known to do up to 1,00,000 prostrations at one time. The architecture of the temple and its overall silence and peace will surely enchant you as you visit it.
Great Buddha Statue
This statue of Lord Buddha is the tallest in India and was instated by the XIV Dalai Lama in 1989. It is a meditating Buddha resting on a giant lotus, constructed using intricately carved sandstone and red granite.
Tibetan Refugee Market
This market is paradise for shopping lover. It offers a large variety of winter-wears, handicrafts and souvenirs,etc.
Bodhi Tree, Bodh Gaya
The Bodhi Tree, located 100 kilometres to the south of Patna in the north Indian state of Bihar, is perhaps the most prominent and respected sacred places in Buddhism because of the rich historical significance attached to it. It is under this tree that Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the spiritual teacher who later became to be known as the Buddha, attained enlightenment. It is believed that Prince Siddhartha had to sit and meditate under this tree for seven days. Later on, a shrine known as Animisalocana Cetiya was erected on the spot where he had sat down. A small temple was also built near the Bodhi tree in the 7th century.
The Bodhi tree is a frequently visited destination spot by tourists and is one of the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites. In fact, the Anandabodhi tree in Sravasti and the Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura, both of which are again significant places that find mention in the history of Buddhism, are believed to have been propagated from this tree here at Bodh Gaya. The aura of the Bodhi tree and the temple complex in which this tree is located have attracted sages, meditators and yogis to it ever since the time of the Buddha. Great and renowned spiritual figures like Buddhajnana, Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, Nagarjuna and Atisha, have lived and meditated underneath the historically and religiously significant Bodhi Tree. Bodh Gaya is also popular for its UNESCO World Heritage Site- the Mahabodhi Temple Complex, which is just beside the tree. Religious people, as well as lovers of history, find this place especially fascinating.
Well known for its curved roof covered with exquisite tiles of gold, the Thai Monastery houses a bronze statue of Buddha and another recently erected 25m high statue in the garden.
Mahabodhi Temple Complex Book store
This book store offers a wide range of collection of Buddhist books, books on Buddhist culture and history of Mahabodhi Temple.
A popular site at Bodh Gaya, the Muchalinda Lake is located next to the main temple. It is associated with a mythological tale stating that Lord Buddha was protected from the storm by Snake King Muchalinda.
Royal Bhutan Monastery
The Royal Bhutan Monastery has been named so, as it was built by the King of Bhutan as a dedication to Lord Buddha. Clay carvings are seen on the interior walls of the monastery that depict different aspects of the Buddhist culture.
Situated along the Bodhi Temple, Cankamana is a holy shrine featuring a carving of Lord Buddha’s feet into the black stone lotuses.