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Situated at about 115 km South of Patna, lies the holiest place of Buddhism, called Bodh Gaya - the place where Lord Buddha attained ultimate enlightenment under a Banyan tree, called Bodhi tree - more than 2500 years back. Owing to the cultural and archaeological significance, UNESCO declared the Mahabodhi Temple Complex as a 'World Heritage Site' in 2002. The Holy place is visited by Buddhist all across the world in large number every year, no wonder, Bodh Gaya has an International Airport to facilitate the pilgrims. Out of four most sacred places of Buddhism in India, viz Bodh Gaya, Lumbini, Kusinagar and Sarnath, it is the Bodh Gaya which receives the highest number of pilgrims.
Buddha, searching for the ultimate truth, reached Bodh Gaya in 623 BC. On the full moon day of the fourth month of the Lunar calendar, he seated himself beneath the Bodhi tree in the meditation posture and vowed not to rise from meditation until he had attained perfect enlightenment. Mara, the Lord of Illusion, tried to break his meditation through various method, but could not succeed. Instead, Buddha went into even more concentration. After three days and three night of meditation, it is believed that Buddha attained enlightenment at the dawn and learnt the truth he was searching for. The day he attained enlightenment is celebrated as Buddha Purnima, and the meditation place is called Mahabodhi temple and the tree as Bodhi tree.
Around 250 years after the enlightenment of Buddha, Emperor Ashoka visited
Bodh Gaya and constructed a temple, monastery and a diamond throne called
Vajrasana, to mark the exact place where Buddha attained enlightenment. The
present temple was built around 5th-6th century AD during the late Gupta period.
The temple was under worship till the 13th century. With the decline of the
Buddhism patronage kingdoms and constant attack of Muslim invaders, the
temple was gradually forgotten and lost for many centuries. It was
in 1861, when the excavation and restoration work of the temple started
under the guidance of Sir Alexander Cunningham. As the time passed, the lost glory
of the temple was restored. Today, it is one of the most visited place by the foreign
tourists in India.
The temples architecture is superb and is one of the earliest and most imposing
structure built entirely with bricks from the Gupta period. The basement of the
temple is 15 m in length and 15 m in breadth and its height is 52 m which rises in
the form of a slender pyramid tapering off from a square platform. On its four
corner four towers gracefully rise to some height. The inside of temple is awesome.
the Vajrasana is kept surrounded by beautiful images of Buddha. The colossal
image of Buddha in touching the ground pose is said to be 1700 years old. The
temple, the Bodhi tree, and six other sacred spots - together spread over 12
acres - constitute the core heritage zone, as declared by UNESCO. The top
18-feet of the dome of the temple was adorned with gold plating in
On the back side of the temple is the Mahabodhi tree, the descendant of the
original banyan tree where Buddha sat for meditation. It is squared by stone
railings belonging to the earlie11:40 AMst period associated with the temple. Under its
shadow, the monks sits and chants. It has great religious values. Nearby it
is the stone sculpture with footprints, believed to be of Buddha's. The whole
temple campus is filled with the feeling of devotion and chants.
Bodhi Sarovar is towards the west of the Bodhi temple and it is believed that before going in for meditation Buddha took bath in this pond. There are many other temples situated nearby Mahabodi temple, dedicated to Lord Buddha. Some beautiful temples has been built by the people and government of Buddhist countries, in the style of their country and their tradition. Nearby it is the 80 feet statue of Buddha in sitting posture, visible from a far distance and giving the region a holy look. The other famous destinations are :
--> Buddha Kund
--> Chinese Temple & Monastery
--> Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan
--> International Buddhist House
--> Japanese Temple
--> Thai Temple & Monastery
--> Tibetan Monastery
--> Archaeological Museum
How to reach :
Bodh Gaya is 13 km south of Gaya. Gaya is easily reachable by road from Patna. Gaya lies on the main railway route between Delhi and Howrah, so it is easily reachable by train. Bodh Gaya has its own international airport which has direct flight from different Buddhist countries. Visitor can also reach from Patna airport, which has more frequency.
Trains from Patna to Gaya (timing liable to change):
- Budh Purnima Express (2:20 AM)
- Patna - Gaya Passenger (5:00 AM)
- Patna - Ranchi Jansatabdi (6:00 AM)
- Patna - Gaya Passenger (6:15 AM)
- Patna - Gaya Passenger (8:30 AM)
- Patna Hatia Express (11:40 AM)
- Palamou Express (07:30 PM)
- Rajendranagar - Hatia Express (09:45 PM)
- Ganga Damodar Express (11:30 PM)
Where to stay :
Bodh Gaya has very good accommodation facilities. There are many hotels in Bodh Gaya where visitors can stay. Hotels run by State Tourism department is also there. Besides, there are many hotels in Gaya city where one can stay. However, Gaya reflects a contrary picture to Bodh Gaya. There is little sanitation with cramp and crowded streets
When to visit :
The region around Gaya is one of the hottest during Summer in Bihar. Temperature can reach up to 44 degree Celsius during the day, making the life uncomfortable. During the peak season, beginning roughly from mid-August and lasting till February, several monasteries in Bodh Gaya see an influx of monks and followers, who attend special prayers and meditation sessions at the Buddhist shrine. The best season to visit the Bodh Gaya is from October-February, when the temperature is cool.
Nearby places :
- Gaya : Gaya is an important place for Hindu pilgrims. It is situated beside the Falgu river. One can visit the Vishnupadh temple, a very famous and ancient temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Also in the city is Jama Masjid, the largest mosque of Bihar.
- Deo : Situated some 10 km from Gaya, this small place has temple dedicated to lord Sun. the Chhath festival is very famous here.
- Rajgir : The historic town of Rajgir is only 50 km from Gaya.
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