Bodh Gaya is a religious place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in the Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is well-known for being the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala).
The place-name, Bodh Gaya, did not come into use until the 18th century, in ancient times it was known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi. The main monastery of Bodh Gaya used to be referred to as the Bodhimanda-vihāra.
For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most noteworthy of the main four pilgrimage places related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Quick Information of Bodh Gaya
Temperature (Max. /Min.) Deg C: Summer 47/28 Winter-28/4
Rainfall: 186 cms (Mid-June to Mid-September)
Altitude: 113 Meters
Best Season: October to March.
Conducted Bodh Gaya tour: Facilities of Chartered buses or taxis can be obtained from Ranchi and Patna arranged by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation.
According to Buddhist tradition, Prince Gautama Siddhartha, drifting as a Spartan, reached the sylvan banks of Falgu River, near the city of Gaya. There he meditated under a bodhi tree.
After three days and three nights of meditation, Siddharta claimed to have attained enlightenment and insight, and the resolute path that he had wanted. He then spent seven weeks at seven diverse spots in the vicinity meditating and realizing his experience.
The history of Bodh Gaya is documented by numerous traveler or pilgrimage accounts. Prominent among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the 5th century and Xuanzang in the 7th century.
The area was at the spirit of Buddhist culture for centuries, until it invaded by Turkic armies in the 13th century. Born in the foothills of the Himalayas as a Sakya prince of Kapilvastu (now in Nepal), most of the key events of his life, like enlightenment and last discourse, happened in Bihar.
Buddhism as a religion was literally born in Bihar and evolved here as a result of his preaching and the saint-like simple lifestyle of reflecting renunciation and empathy for everything living. Significantly, the state’s name of ‘Bihar’ originated from ‘Vihara’ meaning monasteries that were plentiful in Bihar.
Several centuries after Buddha’s demise, the Maurya Emperor Ashoka (234-198 BC) contributed enormously towards the revival, consolidation, and spread of the original religion.
As per the 2001 census of India, Bodh Gaya had a 30,883 population which comprise Males 54% and Females 46%. Bodh Gaya has an average literacy rate of 51%, lower than the national average of 59.5%.
Main Attraction: Mahabodhi Temple
The complex, located about 110 kilometers from Patna inc includes the Mahabodhi Temple with the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana) and the holy Bodhi tree.
This tree was previously a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, It is believed that 250 years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Emperor Asoka came to Bodh Gaya and he is supposed to be the founder of the original Mahabodhi temple.
It is found that a double flight of steps leads to the platform and the upper sanctum. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was deserted covered under layers of soil and sand. In the late 19th century, the temple was restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham.
Other Buddhist Attractions
Kittisirimegha of Sri Lanka, a contemporary of Samudragupta, sought the latter’s permission to build Sanghārāma near the Mahābodhi-vihāra, mainly for the Singhalese monks who went there to offer devotion near the Bodhi tree.
This particular circumstance of Sanghārāma was historically accounted for by Hiouen Thsang who provides a description of it as seen by himself. Several Buddhist temples and monasteries have been built by the disciples of Budha from Bhutan, Japan, China, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand Taiwan, Tibet and Vietnam in an extensive area around the Mahabodhi Temple.
These buildings mirror the architectural style, exterior and interior decoration of the individual countries. The statue of Buddha as installed in the Chinese temple is 200 years old and was brought from China.
Japan’s Nippon temple is fashioned like a pagoda. The Myanmar (Burmese) temple is also a pagoda type. The Thai temple has a characteristic inclined, curved roof enclosed with golden tiles. Inside, one can find a huge bronze statue of Buddha.
- Bodhgaya is about 12 km from Gaya City. The NH83 Highway conveniently connects Gaya and Bodhgaya.
- The Bihar State Tourism Development arranges a travel facility from Patna to Bodh Gaya.
- Bus services are available up to Kathmandu via Varanasi.
How to Reach
Air: The nearest airport is at Gaya 7 Kms away and Patna located within 135 km. Indian Airlines comfortably connect Patna to Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Lucknow Ranchi, and various other cities.
Rail: The nearest railway station is Gaya (17km) and convenient trains are available from most of the major cities of India.
Road: Bodhgaya is well connected by road to Gaya (17km), Rajgir (78 km), Nalanda (101 km), Patna (135km), Varanasi (252 km), Calcutta (495km)
Local Transport: One can find adequate Taxis, Tongas, Auto Rickshaws and Cycle Rickshaws.
Great Tourist Attractions
The Mahabodhi Temple (As discussed in detail above) is bounded by all four sides by stone railings, about two meters high. Parts of the accurately carved railings to the south and west of the temple are almost antique and date to about 150 BC.
After attaining enlightenment, Buddha spent seven weeks around the Bodhi tree. The first week he spent sitting under the tree. The second week he spent looking at the tree from the Animeshlochana Stupa, a spot now noticeable by a tiny white temple.
Bodhi Tree Buddha
The Bodhi Tree here, behind the temple, is said to be grown out of sapling of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Emperor Ashoka’s daughter, Sanghamitta carried a sapling of the original Bodhi (pipal) tree under which the Buddha sat to Sri Lanka.
Lotus pond (Mucalinda Lake) the well-known lotus pond is near the northern wall of the complex and considered to be the divine abode of the snake king), Buddha is supposed to have spent the 6th week in meditation here.
Other Religious Sites
Indosan Nipponji (Japanese) Temple
This is a temple with its roof is fashioned like a pagoda and one can find two huge paintings of crowds that are on looking towards the main central Buddha statue.
Great Buddha Statue
25 meter high Buddha statue lies at the end of Temple Road that was unveiled by his Holiness the Dalai Lama on the 18th of November 1989. Pink sandstone and stands on a lotus flower on top of a pedestal serve as the ideal decoration part.
This Tibetan temple is wonderfully decorated inside and out. The exterior textures include magnificent wall paintings as does the inside which chart Buddha’s life in various wall paintings.
Animesh Lochan Chaitya
It is supposed that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the great Bodhi-tree out of thankfulness, without flashing his eyes.
This symbolizes the sacred spot of the Buddha’s contemplative stage during the 3rd week after religious enlightenment. It is also believed that wherever the Buddha put his feet, the lotus sprang up.
The Buddha spent one week in Ratnagarh, it is believed that 5 colors came out from his body.
Other sightseeing Treasures of Bodhgaya include 80 ft Statue of the Buddha, Archaeological Museum Burmese Temple, Brahm Yoni, Lotus Tank, Buddha Kund, Chinese Temple & Monastery, Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan, Thai Temple & Monastery, International Buddhist House & Japanese Temple, Tibetan Monastery, Sujata village (2 km away) and Dungeshwari Hill (Prag bodhi) (22 km by road).
Hotel Siddhartha International
It is located in the heart of the city and has all the possible amenities for a convenient stay, this three-star property, is the best place to stay for both the business traveler along with vacationers.
Hotel Taj Darbar
It is an example of elite architecture stands tall on Buddha Marg, in Bodhgaya, neighboring the Thai Temple. It is just half a kilometer from the main ‘Temple’, this hotel provides to the comprehensive needs of tourists from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, and other international tourists.
This three-star property of hotel Sujata Offers a magnificent experience that you are going to value.
Located in the centre of the Bodhgaya city, Hotel Bodhgaya Ashok provides a quiet atmosphere that every pilgrim looks forward to. The hotel is recognized for its convenient rooms and services.
Hotel Shashi International is a budget hotel in Bodhgaya that offers excellent accommodation and amenities to its esteemed guests. This well-known hotel eliminates the difference between assurance and delivery.
Hotel Delta International, Bodhgaya, is an ideal option as a budget hotel that provides the right kind of accommodation for tourists visiting this antique city. It provides the ultimate pleasure of staying in the city to any type of tourist.
Located very opportunely in the city, Hotel Embassy in Bodh Gaya is the best budget hotel that offers value-added facilities.
Hotel Niranjana Bodhgaya is one of the optimum budget hotels in Bodhgaya which offers you the right type of hospitality.
The State Accommodation
Tourist Bungalows: Siddharth Vihar, Bodhgaya: AC and non AC rooms are available.Phone: 0631-2200445, 2200127.
Sujata Vihar, Bodhgaya: Apart from customer room accommodation dormitory facilities can be availed. Phone:0631-2200445, 2200127.
Buddha Vihar, Bodhgaya, Gaya-824231.The various facilities include Restaurant, CTV, Conference Hall, Coach/Car Parking.
Phone: 0631-2200445, 2200127.
Sun Temple (32 km away):
It is a famed temple of the Sun God at Deo and has a gorgeous architectural design like the Konark Temple in Orissa. This place is renowned for the ‘Chhat’ festival which is held in the month of October-November.
Vishnupad Temple (12km away, at Gaya):
In 1787 Queen Ahilya Bai constructed the Vishnu temple on the banks of river Falgu. The temple has some enormous architecture and design which draws devotees and tourists alike.
Barabar Caves (41 km away):
It is a significant archaeological site and the caves engraved out solid rocks bearing particulars about the life of the Buddha. The inner part of these caves is curved to a wonderful polish. These caves were built in the 3rd century and are wonderful examples of the skill which the Indian architecture had attained at that time.
It is about 10 km from the Ramshila hill. Just below the hill is the Brahma Kund. People go for the ‘Pind Dan’ after having a bath in this pond which is routine religious rites and donations and charity are offered to anticipate 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 generally known as Ahilya Bai Temple.
Other Excursions: Gaya (12 km), Rajgir (80 km), Dungeshwari (12 km), Muchalinda Lake (3 km), Pawapuri (114 km) and Nalanda (96 km).
Also read: Gorumara National Park
Tibet Lonely Planet:
It is the ideal place to pick up winter woolens or textiles, in particular, cause also like indirectly helping the Tibetan community in exile. Elsewhere there are plenty of souvenir stalls.
Shopping in General:
Apart from those small roadside shops, numerous kinds of handicrafts such as sandalwood offer good shopping options long with beads, wooden crafts for home decoration, etc. The Town Authority has planned to open a shopping complex to remove the congestion from the Temple path.