Bodhgaya is one of the holiest destinations for Buddhist and Hindus alike. The Bodhi Tree under which the Great Gautam Buddha attained enlightment 2600 years ago is located in Bodhgaya, making it the most revered place of worship amongst Buddhists. Buddha though born in Kapilavastu now in Nepal, spent many important years of life, attaining enlightment, spreading his teachings and living his simple yet virtuous way of life in Bodhgaya. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex that is home to the original sapling of the Bodhi Tree is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
WHAT TO SEE
How to reach
Air: The nearest airport is in the city of Gaya 10 km away. Patna is 110 km away.
Rail: The nearest station is also Gaya.
Road: Bodhgaya is connected to Gaya and Patna by road, though it may take about 3 hours or so from Patna.
Things to do
- The Mahabodhi Temple is the main attraction of the town as it is the most sacred site for Buddhists all over the world. Besides the sapling of the Bodhi Tree, the Lotus Pond or the meditation garden are also found within the temple complex. The Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an example of generations and centuries of contributors who have shaped the site over the years. Though the architecture has a distinct Gupta era design, inscriptions describe pilgrims from as far as Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7-10th century AD. The famous traveller Hiuen Tsang visited and described the temple in his texts.
- There are many other temples built by different nationalities such as, China, Myanmar, Japan, Nepal which reflect the architectural design and style of the nation. Japan’s Nippon Temple is shaped like a pagoda, the Thai temple has a slope and the roof covered with golden tiles.
- The 80 foot statue of Lord Buddha that is walking distance from the Mahabodhi Temple is another tourist attraction and crowded almost all the time.
- The Archeological museum showcases the scriptures and relics related to Buddhism.
- The Mahakala Caves or Dungeshwari Caves are where Buddha meditated for a long period of time.
- Barabar Caves date back to the Mauryan period and are one of the oldest rock cut caves in India. The caves have inscriptions from Ashokan times.
- Rajgir is located about 75 km from the city and is where Buddha spent time teaching and preaching. The Vulture’s Peak as well as ruins of the great Nalanda University are some other attractions in and around Rajgir.
Bodhgaya has a distinct spiritual feel to it which makes it a calming destination to visit. With its various monasteries, meditation centers and temples, the city is also a reminder of how different communities and nationalities have managed to centralize and come together to find a divine and spiritual connection. The teachings and simplicity of Buddha’s life, devotion and the understanding of the larger meaning of life, elevate Bodhgaya into much more than a mere tourist destination.