Buddhist Places in India >> Bodhgaya

Bodhgaya : Site of Buddha's enlightenment
Bodhgaya is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. Apart from being a significant archaeological site, it is also a vital Buddhist centre. It's the site where Buddha attained enlightenment. 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 grandeur that surrounds the place. It is a quiet and peaceful place. Buddhists from all over the world flock to Bodhgaya, along with non-Buddhists who come to learn about Buddhism and meditation. The best time to visit is during winter when Tibetan pilgrims come down from Dharamsala. The Dalai Lama also often spends December here.

Location :
Bodh Gaya is located about 13 km from Gaya, 450 km west of Calcutta, and 90 km south of Patna.

Places to See -

Mahabodhi Temple - is the focal point of Bodhgaya. It marks the spot where Buddha gained enlightenment and set out on his life of preaching. It stands adjacent to a descendent of the original Bodhi tree under which Buddha meditated on the excesses of life and formulated his philosophy of a balanced approach to it. There is a red sandstone slab under the tree that is said to be the 'Vajrasan', or diamond throne, on which Buddha sat. This temple is a place of pilgrimage for all Buddhists. Topped by a 50m high pyramid, the ornate structure houses a large gilded image of the Buddha.

Bodhi Tree - The Bodhi tree here is said to be a descendent of the tree under which Budhha attained enlightenment. A sapling of the original bodhi tree that the Buddha sat under was carried by Emperor Ashoka's daughter (Sanghamitta) to Sri Lanka. That tree is at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. A cutting from that tree was planted in Budha Gaya 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.

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Monasteries - most countries with a large Buddhist population have a temple or a monastery in Bodhgaya usually built in a representative architectural style. Thus, there is a Thai temple that looks very much like the colourful wats of Thailand. There is a Tibetan temple and monastery that contains a large prayer wheel. The Burmese who had led a campaign to restore the Mahabodhi temple in the 19th century also built their monastery. There is a Japanese temple (Indosan Nipponji) that has a very beautiful image of Buddha brought from Japan. There are also Chinese, Sri Lankan, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Korean, Taiwanese and Bangladeshi monasteries. There is also a Tai Bodhi Khan monastery built by Buddhist tribes from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Vajrasana - Vajrasana, the seat of stability. Buddha supposed to have say in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi Tree, where the Vajrasana, the stone platform is kept.

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

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

- The Buddha spent one week here, where it is believed that five colours came out of his body.

Archaeological Museum - here has a small collection of Buddha figures, and pillars that were discovered in the area.

Other Places -
The Mohanta's Monastery, located right next to the Mahabodhi Temple, is a Shaivite monastery. It is said that Adi Sankaracharya spent days here in a heated debate with buddhist philosophers.

At the Tibetan Mahayana Monastery (1938) there is a large Dharma Chakra, or wheel of law. It is believed that you will be freed of sin if you spin this wheel three times in succession from left to right. It is a 10m high metal drum painted gold and red.

Budha bathed in the nearby Niranjana (now called Lilanja) River after attaining enlightenment. The Niranjana River is about 250m east of the temple. Prince Siddharta crossed this river to reach the Bodhi tree.

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