Bodhgaya is where
the Buddha reached enlightenment and is thus the most important
Buddhist pilgrimage destination in the world. Holding extreme
religious importance to the Buddhists, Bodhgaya lies13 km south
of Gaya, beside the river Phalgu. It was here, that the Lord
Buddha sat under the Banyan tree and attained enlightenment, and
a descendant of that original tree still flourishes there today.
Bodhgaya is small and quiet town, which is the most important of
all the Buddhist sites in the world.
Bodhgaya, in the state
of Bihar, reckoned as the most important Buddhist pilgrimage
center, is the place where Lord Sakyamuni (Gautam Buddha)
entered into meditation after being moved by the sufferings of
mankind. The giant Bodhi Tree (Peepal) that we see today is
believed to have grown from the original Bodhi Tree under which,
sitting on the raised platform, Prince Siddharth meditated and
imally attained Nirvana
The Maha Bodhi temple of Bodh Gaya is one of the important
places of worship for the Buddhists. Apart from being a vital
Buddhist centre, it is also a significant archaeological site.
Devout Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit
Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to
simply absorb the aura of solemn splendour that surrounds the
Marking the holy spot of the enlightenment of the Master, this
site is looked upon with greatest sanctity and became a
flourishing Buddhist establishment with numerous temples, stupas
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 recognised. 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 A.D., 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
Places to See
Towards the West of the Maha Bodhi temple, is the tree where
Gautam Buddha did his meditation and attained enlightenment.
Before going in for meditation, Buddha took bath in this pond.
This pond is situated towards the west of Bodhi temple. The pond
is situated in a very attractive place and is worth visiting.
Towards North of the Bodhi Temple, is a platform with foot
impressions of Buddha. Apart from these ponds and platforms,
there are many temples built by the people of various nations
like the Tibet temple, the Japanese, the Thai, the Lankan and
the Bhutan temple. These temples are also a major attraction for
the tourists and devotees, who visit Bodh Gaya.
EXCURSION FROM BODHGAYA
A place of religious sanctity for Hindus, Gaya lies 12 kms
from Bodhgaya between Pretshila and Ramshila hills and is washed
by the shores of river Phalgu. Gaya has a large number of
Buddhist temples also. While Buddha was doing severe penance, he
became weak, tired and hungry. He rested under a tree where, he
was offered food by a condemned village woman named Sujata. To
everybody's surprise Buddha accepted her offerings. Legend has
it, that after having consumed the food, Buddha's countenance
assumed a divine glow and he realized the Supreme truth; that
neither extreme self indulgence nor self mortification is ever
required. What is needed is to follow the Middle Path. Sujata
Sthan or Durgeshwari Temple stands as a symbol commemorating
57 Kms from Gaya are some earliest carved out Buddhist caves.
The interior of these caves is chiselled to a wonderful polish.
The carvings in the caves reflect the skill with which these
caves are carved out. These caves were built some where in the
3rd century and are fine examples of the skill, which the Indian
mason had attained at that time. These caves are believed to be
of Mauryan period and considered to be the origin of Indian cave
20 kms from Gaya is located the Sun temple of Deo. In fact, this
place is famous for the 'Chhat' festival, which is held in the
month of October-November.
The place is famous for the caves where Buddha had meditated for
some time. It was in these caves that he concluded that the
ultimate knowledge can not be attained through mortification of
the flesh. These caves are 12 kms from the main town of Bodh
Just 15 kms from Nalanda is located the complex of temples and
monasteries. The place is called Rajgir. It is one of the most
important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley,
Rajgir is a very scenic place.
90 kms south of Patna, literally means the place that
confers the lotus. It was one of the oldest universities of the
world. It has nine million books, ten thousand students, two
thousand teachers and was a center of great learning which
reached its zenith between 5th and 12th Century A.D. Both Lord
Buddha and Lord Mahavira visited this place. Emperor Ashoka
built a Vihara, while Emperor Harshvardhan donated a 26 mtr.
High copper image of Buddha and Emperor Kumar Gupta built a
college of fine arts. In 1951, an International Center for
Buddhist Studies was established in Nalanda. Nava Nalanda Vihar,
2 kms from here, is a similar institution.