World Heritage Mahabodhi Temple

Bodh Gaya is associated with the enlightenment of Lord Buddha (566-486 B.C.). The sacred Bodhi tree under which he is believed to have attained Stucco of Bodhisattva Padmapani, Mahabodhi Templeenlightenment. The place is highly venerated by the Buddhists. Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya around 260 B.C. and constructed a small temple near the Bodhi tree. An inscription datable to 1st – 2nd century A.D. mentions that the temple of Asoka was replaced by a new one.
 
Bodhgaya is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrimage center in the world. It was here under a banyan tree, the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Buddha,the Enlightened One. Born; in the foothills of the Himalayas as a Sakya prince of Kapilvastu (now in Nepal), most of the major events of his life, like enlightenment and last sermon, happened in Bihar. Buddhism as a religion was really born in Bihar and evolved here through his preaching and the example of his lifestyle of great simplicity, renunciation and empathy for everything living. Significantly, the state's name of 'Bihar' originated from 'Vihara' meaning monasteries which abounded in Bihar. 
 
Several centuries after Buddha's passing away, the Maurya Emperor Ashoka (234-198 BC) contributed tremendously towards the revival, consolidation and spread of the original religion. It is the monasteries, Ashoka built for the Buddhist monks and the pillars known as Ashokan Pillars erected to commemorate innumerable historical sites associated with the Buddha's life, mostly intact to this day, that helped scholars and pilgrims alike to trace the life events and preaching of a truly extraordinary man. 
A general view of Mahabodhi Temple
Fahien first makes reference to the main temple and the Bodhi tree in 404-05 A.D. Hieun Tsang, who visited the site in 637 A.D. mentions the presence of walls surrounding the Bodhi tree, within which stood the Mahabodhi temple nearly 160 feet tall and a large fine sanctuary. Several additions and alterations took place and the present temple may be datable to the 6th century A.D. The temple fell into disuse in the 13th century A.D. after the conquest of this region by the Delhi Sultanate. During the 19th century, the Burmese kings made certain repairs which were continued by the British in 1880-84.
 
The temple covers an area of nearly 4.8 hectares and 55 m in height. The sanctum carries a lofty pancharatha sikhara of a straight-edged pyramidal design, demarcated into seven storeys by bhumi-amalakas (amalakas occurring at the corners of the sikhara to denote storeys).
 
The sacred Bodhi tree stands to the west of the above temple. It is known as the pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) in India. It is believed that this tree is the direct descendant of the original tree under which Lord Buddha meditated.
 
Mahabodhi Temple: The temple stands in the east to the Bodhi Tree. Its architectural effect is superb. Its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. The total height of the temple is 170 ft. and on the top of the temple are Chatras which symbolize sovereignty of religion. Four towers on its corners rise gracefully giving the holy structure a poise balance. This sacred edifice is like a grand banner unfurled by time to proclaim to the world the pious efforts of the Buddha to solve the knots of human miseries, to ascend above worldly problems and to attain transcendental peace through wisdom, good conduct and disciplined life.
 
Inside the temple, in the main sanctum, there is a colossal image of the Buddha in sitting posture touching the earth by his right hand. In this posture the Buddha accomplished the supreme enlightenment. The statue is of black stone but it has been guilder by the devotees. The entire courtyard of the temple is studded with large number of votive stupas. These stupas are of all sizes built during the past 2500 years ago. Most of them are extremely elegant in structural beauty. The ancient railings, which surround the temple, are of the first century BC and are among the very interesting monuments of the century.Bodhi tree and railing, Mahabodhi Temple
 
Animesh Lochan Chaitya: It is believed that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the great Bodhi tree out of gratitude, without twinkling his eyes.
 
 Mahabodhi Tree : The present Bodhi Tree is probably the fifth succession of the original tree under which the Buddha had attained enlightenment. Vajrasana, the seat of stability, is a stone platform on which the Buddha is supposed to have sat in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi tree.
 
Chankramana: This marks the sacred spot of the Buddha's meditative perambulations during the third week after pious enlightenment. It is believed that wherever the Buddha put his feet lotus sprang up.
 
Ratnagarh: The Buddha spent one week here, where it is believed that five colors came out of his body.
 
 Other Treasures of Bodhgaya: 80 ft Statue of the Buddha, Lotus Tank, Buddha Kund, Rajayatana, Brahm Yoni, Chinese Temple & Monastery, Burmese Temple, Buddhist Monastery of Bhutan, International Buddhist House & Japanese Temple, Thai Temple & Monastery, Tibetan Monastery, Archaeological Museum. Sujata village (2 kms), Dungeshwari Hill (Prag bodhi) (22 kms by road), Maitraya Project (3 kms).
 
Temple Timings
 
Mahabodhi Temple: 5 AM to 9 PM
 
Other Monastries: 5 AM to 12 Noon and 2 PM to 6 PM
 
How to Reach
Air: The nearest airport is at Gaya 7 Kms and Patna 135 kms. 
Rail: The nearest railway station is Gaya (17km).
Road: Bodhgaya is well connected by road to Gaya (17km), Nalanda (101 km), Rajgir (78 km), Patna (135km), Varanasi (252 km), Calcutta (495km)
Local Transport: Taxis, Tongas, Auto Rickshaws, Cycle Rickshaws are available.
 
Where to Stay
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation runs three hotels - Siddhartha Vihar, Buddha Vihar and Sujata Vihar and has a Tourist Information Centre in its sprawling tourist complex campus. There is Hotel Bodhgaya Ashok run by Indian Tourism development Corporation and there are several other private hotels in the town.