Bodh Gaya Information

Bodh Gaya (once Uruvela village) is the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrim centre in the world. It was here that Gautama (Prince Siddharth) finally attained nirvana under the Bodhi (banyan)tree and became Buddha, the enlightened one.  Siddhartha Gautama was born in 566 BC in Lumbini (Nepal), as a Sakya prince of Kapilavastu.  He renounced the royal heritage and faced hardships in search for the ‘Truth’ – the cause of human suffering.  Some of the most important events associated with his life, like enlightenment and the last sermon, happened in Bihar and thus the State is regarded as the ‘cradle’ of Buddhism.

Today, Bodh Gaya is an international centre for Buddhism and has temples and monasteries built by various countries like, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Bhutan and Nepal.

Location

Bodhgaya is located in the central part of the state of Bihar, in the northeastern part of India.  It is a part of the great Indo-Gangetic Plain.  It is situated on the west of the Falgu River, which is a tributary of River Ganga (Ganges).  Bodhgaya is about 13km south of Gaya and 113km south of the Patna city.

Climate

The climate of Bodhaya is tropical.  Summer are generally hot (April-June), while winters are cool (October-February).  It experiences southwestern monsoon rains from July until September.  Temperatures in summers may rise upto 47°C and drop to 4°C in winters.

History

The history of this small town is associated with Buddhism since ancient times.  The region around Bodhgaya formed the part of the first small kingdoms of India in the 7th century BC.  It came into limelight only in the 6th century BC.  After gaining enlightenment, Gautama became Buddha *The Enlightened One) and spread his message of love and peace.  To mark the spot where Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment, the great Mauryan ruler, King Ashoka built a small shrine here in the 3rd century BC.  Subsequent rulers left their mark on this shrine, which finally took the shape of the Mahabodhi temple that still stands today.

Bodh Gaya Tourism Information

Serene and quiet, this tiny village, holiest among the holy places is Bodhgaya, where the quest of Prince Siddhartha was fulfilled after years of seeking the truth, and the saga of Buddha began.  He attained the supreme enlightenment and became 'The Buddha', The Enlightened One. Thus Buddhism was born here under the Peepal tree which is known as Bodhi tree.  Prince Siddhartha had been wandering in search of supreme peace for six long years, hither and thither.  But it was only at Bodhgaya where his holy mission was achieved.

Mahabodhi Temple

The Mahabodi Temple is located at the place of Lord Buddha's enlightenment.  The temple has a 50m (170ft) tower.  The present temple was restored around 1880.  There have been several other temples on this site.  The Muslims destroyed a previous temple in the 11th century.  Parts of the intricately carved railings to the south and west of the temple are very old.

In the inner sanctuary, there is a huge Buddha.  In the centre of the temple, there is also a Sivalinga.  This temple is also sacred to the Hindus because Lord Buddha is considered to be the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The sacred temple complex set amidst lush lawns marks the site where Buddha attained enlightenment or spiritual illumination.  The original temple at this site was built by emperor Ashoka in 3rd century.  BC.  It was rebuilt during the 7thcentury AD, by the Pala kings of Bengal.  The shrine was rediscovered in 1883, by eminent archaeologists and is now a World Heritage Site of UNESCO.  The present structure is a blend of architectural styles of different periods and cultures, but the style of the Guptas and later stages is clearly evident.  The exquisitely carved 54 metres high pyramidal spire of the main temple dominates the landscape.  The main sanctum enshrines a golden image of Lord Buddha in sitting posture.  The entire courtyard of the temple is studded with a large number of beautiful stupas, in different sizes and built during the past 2500 years.

Bodhi Tree

Lord Buddha is said to have attained nirvana, while meditating under this sacred tree.  It lies towards the left in the Mahabodhi Temple Complex.  The tree was destroyed and replanted at least five times.  The present tree grew from a sapling brought from the Bodhi tree at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, which was planted by emperor Ashoka’s son Mahinda, who took a sapling from the original tree to Sri Lanka, on one of his missions to propagate the teachings of Lord Buddha.  The holy tree is surrounded by small, but beautifully carved votive stupas and chaityas. The Bodhi tree here is said to be a descendent of the tree under which Budha attained enlightenment.  A sapling of the original bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under was carried by Emperor Ashoka's daughter (Sanghamitra) to Sri Lanka.  That tree is at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. A cutting from that tree was planted in Boodhgaya when the original tree died.  Under the tree is a red sandstone slab that is said to be the Vajrasana, the diamond throne, that Buddha sat on and attained nirvana.  The tree is located behind the temple and is about 80 feet high and about 115 years old.

Vajrasana

The ‘seat of stabiligy’, a red sandstone platform beneath the Bodhi tree marks the site where Buddha is believed to have sat in meditations gazing east.  It probably dates back to 3rd century BC.  In 1993, the then Sri Lankan president Ranasinghe Premadasa gifted a golden canopy and a golden railing around the Vajrasana as a gift from the people of Sri Lanka.

Animesh Lochan Stupa

It is believed that Buddha spent the second week after enlightenment over here.

 Ratnagarh Chaitya

Lord Buddha spent one week here to attain Abhidhama Naya (deep meditation), a higher mode of exposition.

The Ratnachakarma or Jewel Walk

The third week after pious enlightenment was spent here by Buddha in meditative perambulations.  The sacred site is marked by a recently made brick platform with 18 lotus flowers representing the footsteps of Buddha mark the sacred spot.

Bodhisarovar

The sacred pond lies to the west of Bodhi temple.  It is said that Buddha bathed here before going into the meditation under the bodhi tree.

Japanese Temple

The beautiful pagoda shaped shrine with a splendid image of Lord Buddha, is set amidst a well laid out garden.

Thai Temple & Monastery

This brightly coloured shrine has gold lacquered tiles and a sloping roof, ending in curled dragons.  It has a huge image of Lord Buddha.

Muchalinda Lake

The sixth week was spent here by Lord Buddha.

Archaeological Survey of India Museum

This fine museum exhibits a rich collection of Buddhist and Hindu relics, terracotta seals, scriptures and railings / pillars dating back from 1st century BC to 11th century AD.

Magadh University

The prestigious international university is well known for its studies in history, culture and philosophy.

Shivite Monastery

It lies near the Mahabodhi temple and has a cluster of four temples amidst lush surroundings.

Bodh Gaya Tour Information

Deo (32km)

It is famous for the beautiful temple of Sun god and ‘Chhat’ festival (October / December).

Gaya (12km)

This important Hindu plgrim site lies between the Pretshilla and Ramshila Hills, on the banks of river Phalgu.  Gaya along with Varanasi and Allahabad are regarded by Hindus as the three most sacred sites for performing the funeral rites.  Hindu offer oblation here for the salvation of their ancestors.  Gaya also has a large number of Buddhist temples.  According to legends, a completely fatigued Lord Buddha rested here under a tree and was offered food by a condemned lady named Sujata.  To everybody’s surprise Buddha accepted her offerings and after consuming the  food, he assumed a divine glow and realised the ‘Supreme Truth’, that neither extreme self indulgence nor self mortification is every required.  What is needed is to follow the Middle Path.  The Sujatha Sthan or Durgeshwari Temple built here marks this important event in the life of Buddha.  Other attractions are Vishnupad Temple, on the banks of river Pretshila Hill and Brahma Kund.

Chankaramana

This marks the sacred spot of Buddha's meditative perambulations during the third week after the pious enlightenment.  It is believed that wherever Buddha put his feet a lotus sprang up.

Arimeshlochana

It is believed that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the great Mahabodhi Tree out of gratitude, without twinkling his eyes.

Festivals

Buddha Jayanti

This festival is celebrated on a full moon day in April/May as Buddha's birth anniversary as well as enlightenment.  On this occasion, devotees come from all over the world to Bodhgaya, the land of Buddha.

Nyingma Monlam Chenmo

This festival is held in January-February for about three weeks, and is mainly celebrated for world peace often attended by the Dalai Lama as well.