THE LAND OF
Holding extreme religious
importance to the Buddhists, Bodhgaya lies13 km south of Gaya, beside
the river Phalgu. It was here, that the Lord Buddha sat under the Banyan
tree and attained enlightenment, and a descendant of that original tree
still flourishes there today. Bodhgaya is small and quiet town, which is
the most important of all the Buddhist sites in the world.
Maha Bodhi temple of Bodh Gaya is one of the important places of worship
for the Buddhists. Apart from being a vital Buddhist centre, it is also
a significant archaeological site. 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 splendour that
surrounds the place.
Marking the holy spot of
the enlightenment of the Master, this site is looked upon with greatest
sanctity and became a flourishing Buddhist establishment with numerous
temples, stupas and monasteries.
According to tradition a
large number of shrines and memorials were erected at the site to
commemorate the incidents before after enlightenment but only few now
can be recognised. Of the earliest shrines, traditionally attributed to
Asoka, only vajrasana or the sandstone throne with the characteristic
Mauryan polish and decorative designs has survived and is seen beneath
the holy Bodhi tree.
To the Sunga period
belongs a portion of the sandstone railing carved with bas-reliefs,
typical of the age. The remaining portion of the railing pertains to the
Gupta period. The main brick-built shrine known as the Mahabodhi temple
which appears to have been originally erected in circa 2nd century A.D.,
is encumbered with the heavy renovations, the four corner-towers being
an arbitrary addition of circa 14th century. Its central tower, standing
on a high plinth, is about 55m high and is a straight-edged pyramid of
seven storeys, relieved by pilasters and chaitya-niches, substantially
agreeing with its description left by the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang.
The remaining shrines and stupas mostly belong to the Pala period (9th
to 12th century).
PRIME SITES IN BODH
Towards the West of the
Maha Bodhi temple, is the tree where Gautam Buddha did his meditation
and attained enlightenment.
Before going in for
meditation, Buddha took bath in this pond. This pond is situated towards
the west of Bodhi temple. The pond is situated in a very attractive
place and is worth visiting.
Towards North of the
Bodhi Temple, is a platform with foot impressions of Buddha. Apart from
these ponds and platforms, there are many temples built by the people of
various nations like the Tibet temple, the Japanese, the Thai, the
Lankan and the Bhutan temple. These temples are also a major attraction
for the tourists and devotees, who visit Bodh Gaya.
57 Kms from Gaya are some
earliest carved out Buddhist caves. The interior of these caves is
chiselled to a wonderful polish. The carvings in the caves reflect the
skill with which these caves are carved out. These caves were built some
where in the 3rd century and are fine examples of the skill, which the
Indian mason had attained at that time. These caves are believed to be
of Mauryan period and considered to be the origin of Indian cave
20 kms from Gaya is
located the Sun temple of Deo. In fact, this place is famous for the 'Chhat'
festival, which is held in the month of October-November.
The place is famous for
the caves where Buddha had meditated for some time. It was in these
caves that he concluded that the ultimate knowledge can not be attained
through mortification of the flesh. These caves are 12 kms from the main
town of Bodh Gaya.
Just 15 kms from Nalanda
is located the complex of temples and monasteries. The place is called
Rajgir. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being
located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place.
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HOW TO GET THERE