Gaya is located at a distance of 105 km from Patna in the state of Bihar. Bodhgaya is located 7 miles south of Gaya and is popular Buddhist pilgrimage centers of the Indian subcontinent.
There are four sacred Buddhist pilgrimage centers, first of these is the birthplace of Buddha at Lumbinivana, east of Kapilavastu. The second most sacred place of pilgrimage is Bodh Gaya where he attained enlightenment. The third most sacred pilgrimage center for Buddhists is Sarnath or Isipatan where Buddha delivered his first sermon, and the fourth is Kushinara or Khushinagar in Uttar Pradesh, where he finally gave up his mortal self.
Maha Bodhi Tree BodhgayaThe original ‘Bodhi tree’ or Pipal (Ficus religiosa) – the tree of awakening; was said to have been destroyed by Mauryan emperor Ashoka. The giant Bodhi Tree (Peepal) seen here is believed to have grown from the original Bodhi Tree under which, sitting on the raised red stone platform, ‘vajrasila’, Prince Siddharth meditated and finally attained Nirvana. The platform has a stone carving of his footsteps where the devout make flower offerings. Then there is ‘Chaukramana’, the Jewel Walk, where it is believed that the Buddha strolled while in deep thought and ‘Animeshlochana’ is the sacred spot where Buddha stood to gaze in gratitude at the Bodhi tree for a week.
Maha Bodhi Temple Architecture
The magnificient Maha Bodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation of many cultures. Originally believed to be small shrine erected by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C, temple was later restored in the 11th and 18th centuries. The temple bears the stamp of the architecture of the Gupta Dynasty and subsequent ages. On the walls of the temple, one sees Buddha carved in different aspects, and in the sanctum sanctorum, a colossal Buddha, is seen touching the ground, which has mythological significance in the Buddhist lores. The temple has a 54 meters high pyramidical spire and an ornamental arch way at the entrance. The temple carries inscriptions recording the visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, China and Mayanmar in the 7th and 10th Centuries A.D. Hieun Tsang, the Chinese traveller, also visited the temple in the 7th Century.
The Mahabodhi temple – BodhgayaThe Mahabodhi temple has a 150 feet high tower, and it contains a gilded image of Buddha. The original shrine here is believed to have been raised by Emperor Ashoka. The temple has a beautiful stone railing around it. Depcited on the walls of the temple are scenes from Buddha’s life. A museum in the vicinity has gold, bronze and stone images of Buddha.
The Vajrasana-platform where Buddha performed his penance is located below the Bodhi tree, and this spot is described as the center of the Universe. The spots where he spent seven weeks have seven shrines, built by devout Buddhists from several countries.
Several Buddhist relics have been unearthed in this area. Other places of interest here include the Tibetian, Japanese and Burmese monasteries. The Tibetian monastery houses the massive Dharma Chakra or the wheel of law. Millions visit Buddha Gaya from all over the world.
- Location: Bihar, India
- Best time to Visit: Throughout the year
- Significance: The place where Budha got enlightenment (UNESCO World heritage Site)
How to Reach Bodhgaya :
- Air : Nearest Airport is at Patna 130kms away. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Ranchi and Lucknow.
- Rail : Nearest railhead is Gaya, 12km from Bodhgaya. From Gaya local transport is available to BodhGaya.
- Road : Bodh Gaya is well connected by road to Gaya (12kms), Patna 178kms via Rajgir & Nalanda and Varanasi (245kms).