Bodhgaya village is situated near the river Niranjana (Phalgu)12 kms.
from Gaya and 112 km from Patna. One of the holiest Buddhist
centers, Bodhgaya in Gaya district is surrounded by rocky hills on three
sides. This is the place where Gautama Buddha meditated and attained
enlightenment about 2600 years ago
Originally a shrine erected by Emperor Ashoka near the Bodhi
tree, it was later replaced by the Mahabodhi temple
in the 2nd century. The present temple was restored in 1883 by Sir Alexander Cunningham along with J. D. Beglar and Dr. Rajendralal Mitra.
The area was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO since 2002. The temple
which lies on a high and broad plinth,
has a soaring 54 meters high pyramidal spire with a square cross-section. It has a image of Buddha signifying the pose of enlightenment.
The entrance of
the temple has torana or an ornamental archway. The south side of the temple
has a lotus pond.
The original 'Bodhi tree' or Pipal (Ficus religiosa) where Gautama
Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment was said to have been destroyed by Ashoka. The present tree behind
the Mahabodhi temple, in the centre of the complex is believed to have grown from a sapling of the original tree.
The 'Vajrasila' (a red stone slab) under the Bodhi tree marks the place where Gautama
Buddha sat in meditation. 'Animeshlochana', the sacred spot where Buddha
stood to gaze in gratitude at the Bodhi tree for a week after his enlightenment. Located
on the north east side of the temple complex, a stupa is erected
here to commemorate the event. Pilgrims from
Tibet, Thai, Bhutan, Japan, China and Burma have built their own temples here.
A 20 meters tall (80 feet) Buddha statue built in stone can be seen at the end of the
road, beyond the Japanese temple. It was built by the Daijokyo Buddhist sect and
unveiled in the presence of his holiness Dalai Lama on November 18 1989. More details
Visiting Hours: 7:00 to 12:00, 14:00 to 18:00 (to 17:30 in winter)