Bodhgaya is a small village in the eastern state of Bihar, is situated near the Hindu pilgrimage centre of Gaya. Around 11 kms from Gaya, Bodhgaya is around 105 kms from the capital city of the state, Patna. The sleepy village has grown to prominence today as one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites of the world. The best season to visit Bodhgaya is in the winter months when the air is cool and pleasant.

This dusty village situated on river Falgu, earlier known as the River Niranjana, is one of the most sacred sites in India.

Nearly 3000 years ago this was the place that transformed Prince Siddhartha to Lord Buddha giving him enlightenment and thus a birth of new religion, Buddhism. After experiencing severe austerities for six years, Prince Siddhartha realized the futility of such penances to find the ultimate truth for salvation of Human kind. He had wandered enough. He chose to sit under a Bodhi tree in meditation until he found out the true path to salvation. Not caring of his physical needs, he meditated for 45 days and it was then that he was enlightened and the realization of the cause of sorrow and path of salvation dawned upon him. Since then Bodhgaya has become the place where the story of Prince Siddhartha ends and saga of the world's greatest teacher begins.

Bodhgaya thus continues to be the site of utmost importance to the Buddhists and apart from being a vital Buddhist centre also happens to be an important archaeological site. People from far and wide come here to pay their homage to the great world teacher. They come here to learn more about Buddhism and its doctrines and also to learn the art of meditation.

The focal point of

Bodhgaya in Bihar

is the Mahabodhi Temple. This 50 meter high temple was originally built by Emperor Ashok in the 3rd century B.C. after he became the follower of Buddhism. The temple was destroyed and resurrected many a times. But the present structure is said to be around 10 centuries old. This temple complex has the famous Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. The original tree died long back. A sapling of the original tree was taken to Sri Lanka by the daughter of Ashok, Sanghamitra. She got it planted in Sri Lanka. The present tree at Bodhgaya is the sapling of that tree in Sri Lanka. Emperor Ashoka also erected a diamond throne shrine at this spot with a canopy supported by four pillars over a stone representation of the Vajrasana, the Seat of Enlightenment.

Inside the temple there is a colossal image of the Buddha in the Bhumisparsha Mudra; Lord is shown touching the ground. The temple is surrounded by a small pillars and delicate lattice work.

Apart from this main site the small town today has many monasteries built by various Asian countries in their architectural styles. All these monasteries are meant for learning Buddhism and are patronized by the people from those particular countries.

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