The sacred city of Bodh Gaya, known mainly because of its association with Lord Buddha, is located in Bihar. Bodh Gaya is about 12 Km from Gaya city. Bodh Gaya is the place where the wandering prince Siddhartha (Gautam Buddha) sat in meditation below a Bodhi Tree. The first three days of his meditation and following seven weeks of enlightenment have been closely associated with various places in Bodh Gaya.
The history of this town can be traced back to 500 B.C. History mentions Bodh Gaya as Bodhimanda and the main monastery as the Bodhimanda-vihara. It is one of the four most important sites related to the life of Gautam Buddha (Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath being the other three). Not much of the history is known after that. The town became an important pilgrimage centre and famous travelers like Fa Hien and Xuanzang from China visited this place during the 5th and 7th century. The city developed and prospered for many centuries before being attacked and conquered by the Turkish empire in 13th century.
The present city is a delight for historians, tourists and those seeking spiritual enlightenment. The city is full of numerous places and monuments representing the various facets and stages of the Enlightened Prince or Buddha. The area remained a hotbed for Buddhism till 13th century, after which it fell to Turkish invasion.
In and Around
Mahabodhi Temple stands tall and proud portraying the architectural splendor of the past. Standing on a 48 square feet tall basement, the structure resembles a pyramid but for its cylindrical top. Belonging to the 7th century, the temple was reconstructed in 1880 and has since had many facelifts. Though the main deity is Lord Buddha, the temple promotes tolerance towards other religions. The Chatras built at the top of Mahabodhi temple preach sovereignty of religion. Apart from followers of Buddhism, Hindu devotees too consider this site important to them, as they consider Buddha as the ninth incarnation of god Vishnu. A 9th century Shivalingam is also found in the temple.
It is located on Falgu River banks, Vishnupad temple is considered to be constructed on Lord Vishnu’s footprints and hence the name. This ancient temple was reconstructed in the year 1787 by Indore’s queen Rani Ahilya Bai. The footprint is 40 cms in length. The huge temple complex displays images of various gods and goddesses. Temple for Lord Nrisimha is found in the courtyard of Vishnupad temple. A special feature of this temple is that its eastern side is dedicated to god Shiva.
Dungeshwari Cave Temple
It is also referred to as Mahakala caves, Dungeshwari Cave temples gain spiritual importance as Buddha spent many years here before he headed towards Gaya and enlightenment. If you are looking to see something interesting inside the caves, may be you will end up being disappointed. On the contrary, if you are looking to see inside you in a soul-searching attempt, this could be the right place. It is a great destination to meditate in a serene atmosphere.
It is an important archaeological site. The caves carved out from solid rocks bear details of the life of the Buddha. The interior of these caves is chiseled to a wonderful polish. The carvings in the caves reflect the skill with which these caves were carved out. These caves were built in the 3rd century and are fine examples of the skill which the Indian mansion had attained at that time. These caves of Mauryan period are rightly considered to be the origin of Indian cave architecture. It was here in these caves where the Buddha had meditated for some time and concluded that the ultimate knowledge can not be attained through mortification of the flesh.
The famous tree which shielded the Lord and helped him attain his goal has been immortalized. It is believed to have fathered similar trees around the world. Buddha meditated below this tree for the first seven days of enlightenment. The present day tree is believed to be a direct descendant of the original one. The original was burnt down and destroyed by many kings. It is said emperor Ashoka was so distressed by this fact that he ordered a branch of the tree in Sri Lanka, planted it there and took so much care that the jealous queen ordered its destruction.
Chinese Temple And Monastery
Chinese temple is located near Mahabodhi temple. The temple is a pure influence of Chinese architecture. It was built by the government of China and Buddhist monks of China in the year 1945. 200-year-old Buddha statue found in the temple is said to be from China. The temple also houses three golden statues of Buddha. Chinese temple underwent renovation in the year 1997. The travelogues written by Chinese scholars who visited India during various periods give an insight into the culture of the past.
Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum
Established in the year 1956, Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum is home to several relics unearthed from this part of the world. Some of the rare collections include sculptures belonging to 1st century BC, antiques and images of Hindu deities and Buddha made of various metals including gold, silver and bronze.
Muchalinda Lake is considered a sacred place for followers of Buddhism. It is said that while Buddha was into the sixth week of meditation by the side of Muchalinda Lake, a severe storm struck. Muchalinda, the snake king protected Buddha who was deep in meditation. The temple found here houses the sculpture of Buddha and the snake in the act of protecting the god. The lake is a feast to nature lovers, as it is surrounded by lush green environment.
Thai Temple And Monastery
The only Thai temple to be located in India was built in the year 1956 by Thailand Monarch following the request from the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. The temple is a fine specimen of Thai architecture. The amazing construction with a sloping roof that is curved is a visual delight to those with architectural eye. The golden tiles over the roof look brilliant in sunlight. The serene atmosphere inside the temple and outside the monastery takes your mind to a different world. Statue of Buddha inside the temple is made of bronze. A statue of Buddha measuring 25 meter in height enhances the magic of the beautiful garden near the temple and the monastery.
Royal Bhutan Monastery
Yet another monastery in Gaya, Royal Bhutan Monastery appeals to the followers of Buddhism with its wonderful depictions of the life of Buddha. Bhutan kind constructed this monastery, which ranks amongst the majestic monasteries in the land. The influence of conventional architecture strikes you the moment you set your eyes on the monastery. It houses a beautiful temple in which you can find 7 feet tall Buddha statue. The serene atmosphere makes it a wonderful place to meditate.
It is a famous temple of the Sun God at Deo and has a beautiful architecture similar to the Konark Temple in Orissa. This place is famous for the ‘Chhat’ festival which is held in the month of October-November.
This hill adds to the beauty of Gaya. It is about 10 kms from the Ramshila hill. Just below the hill is the Brahma Kund. After taking bath in this pond people go for the ‘Pind Dan’ which involves performance of religious rites and offering donations and charity for the peace of souls of one’s parents and ancestors. On top of the hill the Queen of Indore, Ahilya Bai, built a temple in 1787popularly known as Ahilya Bai Temple. This temple has always been an attraction for the tourists due to its unique architecture and magnificent sculptures.
Bodhgaya experiences pleasant weather throughout the year and can be visited anytime. However, the most suitable time are the winter months from October to March when the climate is at its best.
How to Reach
The domestic airport at Gaya is about 14 km away from the city centre. It is connected to Kolkata by flights; however, the frequency is less. Kolkata is the nearest international airport, around 485 km away. Kolkata is well connected to many foreign cities and to most of the Indian cities.
Gaya Junction is the nearest railhead, 15 km away. Gaya is connected to major cities in the state and other metros of the country.
Bodhgaya is well connected to many cities of India through roads. The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides deluxe buses for tourists twice a day.
Stay / Eat
Where to Stay
Bodhgaya Regency Hotel
Near Japanese Temple, Bodhgaya
Hotel Taj Darbar
Hotel Taj Darbar, Bodhgaya,
Hotel Tokyo Vihar
Opp Japanese Temple,Bodhgaya,
Where to Eat
Bodhgaya, BR 824231
Hari Om Cafe
Bodh Gaya Road, Bodh Gaya
Kalchakra Maidan Town Centre,