Bodhgaya – where Prince Siddhartha attained Buddhahood

Imagine sitting beneath Bodhi tree where Buddha attained enlightenment and experiencing the vibes of this serence place. I had this moment in my life when I visited Bodhgaya in February 2015.

Bodhgaya is renowned as the place of birth of Buddha i.e where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment beneath a bodhi (Pipal) tree and became Buddha 2600 years ago.

For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most holy place among  the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath and attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the world every year.In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bodhgaya is located at a distance of 16 km from Gaya and 110 km from Patna.

Bodhi tree

The most sacred spot in Bodhgaya is a bodhi tree inside Mahabodhi temple complex, sitting here Budhha attained enlightenment. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka which itself has grown from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree.  You will find many monks and buddhist sitting and doing meditation and chanting.

One can sit beneath the tree for some time and experience the vibes of this serene place.

Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi temple (Literally: “Great Awakening Temple”) is situated on the banks of the Niranjana River.Emperor Ashoka is said to be the original founder of the Mahabodhi temple who constructed a simple shrine as a mark of respect for Budhha’s enlightenment in Bodhgaya 250 years after Buddha enlightenment. However, the temple in current structure was constructed between 5th – 6th century. The temple was refurbished in the Pala-Sena period (750–1200).

With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and forgotten, buried under layers of soil and sand for centuries. The temple was later restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham in 1883.

In 2002, UNESCO declared the Mahabodhi Temple a World Heritage Site.

Mahabodhi temple pictures:

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Sunset view from Mahabodhi temple

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Yellow sandstone statue of Buddha inside the Mahabodhi temple

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Mahabodhi temple top view

Monks and devotees at Mahabodhi temple

Ratnachakarma or the jewel walk:

Ratnachakarma or the jewel walk is located on the north side of the Bodhi temple. As per legend, Buddha spent third week practicing “walking meditation” and lotus flowers sprung where he walked. There are now low stone platform marked with stone lotus shapes made by Ashoka to show where Buddha’s walked.

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The Giant Buddha Statue, Daijokyo Buddhist Temple

The Giant Buddha Statue is one of the prominent visited place in Bodhgaya. The statue is 25 m (80 ft) high with Buddha in meditation pose seated on a lotus. The foundation stone for the statue was placed in 1982 and was completed after seven years in 1989.

One can also see the statues of Ten Great Disciples of Buddha stand on either side of the Great Buddha, namely Sariputta, Mahamoggallana , Mahakassapa, Subhuti, Punna, Mahakaccana, Anuruddha, Upali, Rahula and Ananda.

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80 ft Buddha statue, Daijokyo Budhist temple

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Tips:

  1. Best time to visit – November to March when Tibetan pilgrims come from Dharamsala.
  2. One can also visit other Buddhist temples and monasteries  built by the people of Bhutan, China, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam near the Mahabodhi Temple.
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