Bodhgaya is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage centers in the world. It was here under the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained 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. Being one of the four most important sites related to the life of Gautama (Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath complete the quadrate), the present city is replete with numerous places and monuments that have a direct bond with the Enlightened Prince. The area remained the hotbed for Buddhism upto the 13th century till it was conquered by the Turks. The city complete with the pilgrimage sites is beautifully situated on the shores of the broad but shallow Lilanjan River (also known as Neranjara). After crossing Bodh Gaya, the river joins Mohana River and forms Phalgu River which is considered sacred. Amongst the hustle of the city also stand proudly, the shrines dedicated to the Buddha by various countries like China, Japan, Bangladesh, Vietnam etc. Bodhgaya is well connected by rail, road and air.
Ajapala Nigrodha Tree - It is believed that a shepherd boy planted this tree to protect the Lord. Gautama is supposed to have spent the entire duration of the fifth week practicing meditation under this tree.
Animesh Lochana Chaitya - Buddha did not achieve the enlightenment at once but had to complete a long cycle of meditation and association. Various object d'art associated with this process remind us of the great soul. The Animesh Lochana (open eyes) Chaitya shrine is one such location where the Buddha, spent seven days (the second week of enlightenment) looking at the Bodhi tree.
Archaeological Society of India Museum - The town of Bodh Gaya and its surroundings are replete with numerous archaeological sites, some dating back right to the grand Neolithic Age (2,500 BC).
Burmese Vihara - Being one of the four holy places associated with Lord Buddha, Bodh Gaya is replete with learning centers and shrines / monasteries dedicated by various Buddhist followers across the globe. The Burmese monastery on the Gaya road is a very popular destination for many scholars and students because of the fact that it offers various in depth study courses and guidance expertise.
Cankamana - The Bodhi Temple is surrounded by various shrines and articles that were purified by the pious presence of the Lord. One of the pathways which was utilised by Buddha during the third week of enlightenment, for the purpose of meditation is the Cankamana.
Chinese Temple - The Chinese Buddhist monks have erected a beautiful Buddha temple in the vicinity of the Bodhi temple complex. As is the case with other foreign Buddha temples in the area, the temple exteriors reflect rich Chinese architecture and have been liberally decorated with typical Chinese designs.
Dungeswari Hills - 15 kms from Bodh Gaya, the Dungeswari hills form a picturesque backdrop for the handful shrines and ancient Stupas which surround the cave which is believed to have protected prince Gautama for six long years before he finally left for Bodh Gaya and attained enlightenment.
Great Buddha Statue - The main Bodhi Shrine is surrounded by numerous religious and spiritual monuments and institutes. The Great Buddha statue standing tall at a height of 80 ft is the tallest Buddha statue in the country.
Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple - An outstanding example of the Japanese architecture and deep rooted Buddhist preaching, the Indosan Nippon Japanese temple is situated at a distance of 15 kms from the town of Bodh Gaya. The temple itself has been carved out from wood and resembles a typical Japanese shrine.
Mahabodhi Temple (Main Temple) - The main attraction of Bodh Gaya is the Mahabodhi Temple which was constructed around the original Bodhi Tree which sheltered the Buddha. Though the temple was constructed in 7th century AD, it has been repeatedly repaired and renovated the last being in late 19th century by the Burmese King and the Archeological survey of India. This Main Temple is shaped like the original stupa constructed by King Ashoka.
Muchalinda Lake - Buddha is also believed to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and it is at the Lake Muchalinda that the SheshNaga or the Snake King Muchalinda protected his Lord from a severe thunder storm. The Buddha was meditating near the Lake during the sixth week when a strong storm broke out and the Lake waves started lashing the Buddha. Sensing the discomfort of the Lord the Snake King decided to protect him from the storm.
Rajayatna Tree - The Bodhi Temple complex is sure to puzzle any visitor with its wide assortment of location which are so sacred and important due too their association with the Buddha directly. The Rajayatna tree situated to the south-east of the temple is the one such location where the Buddha spent is, the seventh week and incidentally the last week of meditation.
Ratnaghara - The seven weeks of meditation, which Goutama undertook to become Buddha, were dedicated at different locations and one such location is the Ratnaghara. It is believed that during one of the seven weeks, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra created a luxurious hall studded with seven precious elements for the Buddha to meditate. The Buddha was seen radiating lights of five colors through his meditating body and illuminate the nearby Bodhi tree.
Royal Bhutan Monastery - The town of Bodh Gaya has been the center of attraction for millions of Buddhism followers as well as the historians equally. This influx has not been limited only within the country and various governments have constructed their Monasteries and temples in the vicinity. The Royal Bhutan Monastery has been constructed by the King of Bhutan as a mark of respect to the Lord.
Sujata Kuti - The travel of Buddha prior to attaining Nirvana is also revered by the followers, thus Sujata Kuti, a Stupa created in memory of Sujata, the daughter of the Senani (Village chief) of Uruvela, who offered him a meal of milk rice and honey. In fact it is believed to be the first morsel of grain consumed by Buddha after this hardship of six years. The Buddha was in a very fragile state and had lost all his belongings, including his clothes and his faithful but disillusioned followers, during the six years of meditation.
Thai Monastery - Amongst the hustle of foreign monasteries and temples, stands out the Thai Monastery, for its unique appearance as well as the beautiful surroundings. The Thai Temple is adorned with sloping and curved roof which has been covered with golden tiles. The exterior is exquisite and is not to be missed.
The Bodhi Tree - It is said that when the Lord touches simple things they attain permanent fame and longevity. The Bodhi tree which shielded the Lord and helped him attain his goal has been immortalized and is believed to have fathered similar trees across the globe. First seven days of enlightenment saw the Buddha meditate below the tree.
Tibetan Monastery - The Tibetan monastery is the oldest, largest and most revered monastery. The Dalai Lama is a regular visitor to this monastery and he has ensured excellent maintenance and facilities at the monastery. The monastery complex also houses a special and colorful Tibetan temple and also the very special wheel of law. The Tibetan Monastery boasts of the Maitreya Buddha or the future Buddha.
Vietnamese Temple - Buddhism had reached Vietnam very early and was eagerly adopted by its people. The Government of Vietnam decided to dedicate a temple to the Lord and recently (in 2002) the Vietnamese temple was constructed near the Maha Bodhi temple complex. Being the most recent the temple has had all the advantages of science with it and has been exquisitely constructed with serene surroundings and beautiful vicinity.
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