Heritage listed Mahabodhi Temple is an obligatory stop on the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit.
Bodhgaya is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrimage centres in the world. It was here under the Bodhi Tree that Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Buddha, the Enlightened One. Buddhism was really born in Bihar and evolved here through his preachings. Significantly, the state’s name of ‘Bihar’ originated from ‘Vihara’ meaning monasteries which abounded in Bihar.
The place is a sacred site of the first order, and its central temple, the UNESCO World Adjacent to the Mahabodhi Temple is the Bodhi tree itself under which Gautama Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment 2,500 years ago. Bodh Gaya or Uruvela, as it was known during Buddha’s times, is also a major pilgrimage center for Hindus as Buddha is considered to be the ninth incarnation of Vishnu.
Vajrasana or the Diamond Throne is the seat of the Buddha’s Enlightenment. Built in the 3rd century B.C. by Emperor Asoka, it is made of red sandstone. Venerable Ashwaghosa in his Buddhacarita reveals that this is the Navel of the Earth. Fa-Hien mentions that all the past Buddhas attained Enlightenment here and the future Buddhas too will attain the enlightenment on this spot.
MAHABODHI TEMPLE COMPLEX
The Mahabodhi Temple stands east to the Bodhi Tree. The total height of the temple is 170 feet and on the top of the temple are Chatras, which symbolise sovereignty of the religion. Four towers in the corners rise gracefully, giving the holy structure a poise and balance. Inside the temple in the main sanctum, on an altar, is a colossal image of Buddha in a sitting posture. In the posture that Buddha achieved enlightenment. The entire courtyard of the temple is studded with a large number and varieties of stupas. These stupas built 2500 years ago are extremely elegant and beautiful.
THE BODHI TREE
At the western side of the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya stands the large and historic Bodhi Tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha, then known as Gautama, attained enlightenment 2500 years ago. For seven days after the enlightenment, Buddha continued to meditate under the tree without moving from his seat. The earliest records on the tree are in the ‘Kalingabodhi Jataka’, which gives a vivid description of the tree and the surrounding area prior to the enlightenment. The present Bodhi Tree is most probably the fifth descendant of the original tree to be planted at this site. It still performs a very important role to Buddhists of all traditions.
HOW TO GET HERE?
Gaya International Airport (14Kms) is the nearest airport connected by flights from New Delhi, Varanasi & Kolkata. Patna Airport (125KMs) connected by flights from major cities of India.
The nearest Railway station is Gaya (17 Kms) which connects several important cities in India.
Bodhgaya is well connected by road with Gaya and several important cities in India.