For all those on a spiritual quest, Bodh Gaya is one of the four holiest cities of Buddhist faith. Marking the holy spot of the enlightenment of the Master, the site of Bodh Gaya is looked upon with greatest sanctity and became a flourishing Buddhist establishment with numerous temples, stupas and monasteries in the past two millennia. It is deeply associated with the life of Gautama Buddha and it boasts of historical and archeological treasures and witnesses a myriad of tourists and visitors each year to catch a glimpse of its architectural marvels. Devoted Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Tibet, Thailand, China, Bhutan and Japan, and tourists from all over throng Bodh Gaya to study Buddhism and the art of meditation. The main attraction here is the Mahabodhi Temple, within which is housed the Bodhi Tree, where Buddha attained salvation. Among other interesting temples are the Japanese Temple with its gold statues and the Thai Temple with its ornate roof and huge golden Buddha. The Tibetan Monastery with colourful paintings and a Bhutanese shrine with bright colored wooden carvings make the small town the most fantastic Buddhist site in the world..
The real essence of Buddhism, you must not miss the Buddh Purnima celebrations or the 3-week long festival for world peace, which offer meditation and scripture recitations and distribution of alms to the poor. His Holiness the Dalai Lama spend some time during this season.
According to tradition a large number of shrines and memorials were erected at the site to commemorate the incidents before after enlightenment but only few now can be recognized. Of the earliest shrines, traditionally attributed to Asoka, only vajrasana or the sandstone throne with the characteristic Mauryan polish and decorative designs has survived and is seen beneath the holy Bodhi tree. To the Sunga period belongs a portion of the sandstone railing carved with bas-reliefs, typical of the age. The remaining portion of the railing pertains to the Gupta period.
The main brick-built shrine known as the Mahabodhi temple which appears to have been originally erected in circa 2nd century AD, is encumbered with the heavy renovations, the four corner-towers being an arbitrary addition of circa 14th century. Its central tower, standing on a high plinth, is about 55m high and is a straight-edged pyramid of seven storeys, relieved by pilasters and chaitya-niches, substantially agreeing with its description left by the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang. The remaining shrines and stupas mostly belong to the Pala period (9th to 12th century). This absolutely enchanting Buddhist pilgrimage is not just a historical site, but is a center of living faith.
At a distance of 17 kms from Gaya, this highly revered pilgrimage is in Bihar. From the capital, Patna, it is 105 km away.
Buddhist Attractions In Bodhgaya
The temple is an immense attraction to the Buddhists, and stands near the Maha Bodhi tree under which Tathagat, or Gautama attained enlightenment. The total height of the temple is 170 ft. Its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. It is a must visit not only due to its importance but also for the architecture and the art objects. The Shiva Lingam inside the temple was installed on 9th century beginning, is a splendid piece of sculpture.
Mahabodhi Tree : The tree is considered holy since Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under it , it is probably the fifth succession of the original tree. Anyone, who likes an ambience of serenity, would understand this place’s surroundings to be perfectly weathered for meditation.
Vajrasana : The stone platform, where Lord Buddha sat in meditation while he attained enlightenment is known as Vajrasana. The place is restricted for any tourist activity on it; however, even the sight doesn’t fail to excite the spirituality of the watcher.
How to reach
By Air – Patna Airport is the nearest at a distance of 112 km. The nearest international airport is at Gaya 7 Kms. Air India , Jet airways, Kingfisher and Indigo connect Patna to Calcutta, Bombay, Delhi, Ranchi, Lucknow and various other cities.
By Rail – Gaya (16 km) is the nearest railhead.
By Road – Well connected by roads to Gaya (17 kms), Nalanda (96 kms), Rajgir (80 kms), Patna (105 km), Varanasi (243 km), Calcutta (493 kms)