The holy city of Bodh Gaya is one of the most important and significant Buddhist pilgrimage sites. This is the place where Gautam Buddha first attained Enlightenment and founded the religion of Buddhism. With such high historical relevance, it is not surprising to find thousands of tourists and pilgrims coming here every year.
When you first visit this pious city, you will be amazed by the serenity that swirls with the wind. The entire place is so quiet and peaceful. It is like no one talks louder than a whisper here. Everything moves at its own pace, which is in sharp contrast to the world that is used to racing and rushing. To will find people from all over the world at Bodh Gaya. It is quite heartening to see so many people standing united and in devotion to the Enlightened One.
Bodh Gaya is so far removed from any modern technologies, that water is still pumped from a hand pump here. The colours of the buildings are fading just enough to reveal the red bricks that make them. This isn’t a place of luxury, but a place for modesty and the city of Bodh Gaya is a living testimony to that.
It is also home to the Bodhi Tree and the Mahabodhi Tree, along with many other shrines and monasteries.
Reaching Bodh Gaya
To reach Bodh Gaya, you need to reach Gaya first. The town of Gaya is connected to the capital of Bihar- Patna, by road. You can board a train from Patna, and within two hours you will reach the holy city of Gaya. From Gaya, you can ride on a rickshaw which will take you about half an hour.
There is also an International airport at Gaya, and there are direct flights from many Asian countries, making it quite convenient.
Inside Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya is quite a little town, and you can walk through the main town. However, if you don’t wish to walk, then you can use the electric autos that are quite prominent there. Some of the auto drivers also take you through all the temples in Bodh Gaya for a price of INR 300.
Some of the hotels offer cycles on rent which you can avail as well.
Why Is Bodh Gaya Famous?
The town of Bodh Gaya is synonymous with Gautam Buddha. This the place where Gautam Buddha achieved enlightenment, and since then thousands of pilgrims come here every year to witness this holy town.
Bodh Gaya is one of the most important pilgrimage spots for Buddhists. However, it is also quite popular among tourists, who come here to meditate or to know more about the Buddha.
Things To See in Bodh Gaya
Perhaps the first thing that you will visit in Bodh Gaya is the marvellous Mahabodhi Temple. One of the most popular Buddhist monasteries, the Mahabodhi temple is an architectural marvel.
It has a square base, and four towers on each side. As you approach this majestic temple, you will notice that the entire street is filled with yellow and maroon clad monks who quietly make their way to the temple.
Inside the temple, you will be greeted by a gigantic Buddha statue. The statue depicts Buddha touching the ground. The statue was installed about 1700 years ago. The fascinating part about this statue is that it faces east, where Buddha sat in meditation and achieved enlightenment.
The temple is also adorned with intricate carvings and lovely sculptures, all of which display the life of Buddha.
The Mahabodhi Temple also houses the iconic Bodhi Tree. This is the tree under which Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment. You will always find monks or even tourists sitting under the shade of this spiritual tree in deep meditation. The current Bodhi Tree is the fifth descendant of the original tree under which Buddha achieved enlightenment.
The entire complex radiates a sense of introspection, peace, and tranquillity. No matter when you come, you will always find people sitting around in deep thought and contemplation. You should also try and meditate here, and feel the positivity of the Mahabodhi Temple.
The gardens are also quite exquisite and are laden with beautiful sculptures of Buddha. You might also come across some volunteers who come here to offer free food to the monks.
Please note: The gates of this temple opens at 5 am to visitors, and closes at 9 pm for visitors.
Another famous Buddhist spot, the Chaitya Shrine is the place where Buddha looked at the Bodhi Tree for seven days. To mark this part of Buddha’s journey, few Chinese Buddhists built this regal shrine.
The exterior of this shrine resembles Chinese architectural styles. It’s quite something to find a shrine-like this in the heart of Bodh Gaya. You will find typical Chinese architectural designs and artefacts here. The gorgeous Buddha idol that sits inside the temple, was also brought from China to give it a more authentic feel.
While this shrine is not as frequented as the Mahabodhi Shrine, the Chaitya shrine is quite something to marvel at. You will feel a sense of pure joy and serenity here.
The Other Temples
The beauty of Bodh Gaya is that it houses more than just one or two magnificent monasteries. This little city is home to several other temples that are just as stunning and holy as the Mahabodhi Temple. Some of these temples were built by people from other parts of the world. Thus, you will find the shrines to be different from one another, especially in their design and architectural styles. All of the temples are great examples of the art and culture of their own, making Bodh Gaya quite a diverse place.
Here are some of the temples that you should visit if you have the time:
Thai Temple: This alluring shrine is adorned with regal gold-tinted rooftops. Once you go inside the temple you will witness enchanting frescos and colourful carvings, that give a glimpse into Thailand.
Royal Bhutan Temple: This little shrine is complete with red and gold paint and gorgeous paintings from locals artists of Bhutan. The paintings celebrate the life and journey of Gautam Buddha and his sermons.
Other international temples are the Japanese Temple and the Mongolian Temple.
The Archaeological Museum
If you want to go into the depths of the history of Bodh Gaya and the Mahabodhi Temple, then you just cannot miss the ASI museum. The highlight of this museum has to be the granite and the sandstone railings that were used in the Mahabodhi Temple. These railings were present before the Mahabodhi temple was even erected.
The museum has more artefacts that will take you on a ride through the realm of Buddhism. The wonderful garden outside the museum also has an elegant Buddha statue. You can sit on the soft grass and spend some idle time reflecting about the many artefacts that you saw inside the museum. You can also sit here during the sunset, to witness how wonderful the town of Bodh Gaya looks when the sun covers it with a godson hue.
Some More Information
- Bodh Gaya is an extremely sacred city, so don’t expect to find any nightlife here.
- This city is also devoid of meat and alcohol. You should not even carry meat or alcohol with you. It is a place to introspect and reconnect with your self, so it is best to detoxify your body and follow a Sattvik diet.
- People here do not speak English. So you should learn a few basic words in the local language for your convenience.
Bodh Gaya is quite a beautiful city, filled with peaceful avenues and sense of spirituality. You will find this city to be completely devoted to Lord Buddha. It is away from the hustle-bustle of city life. It is a place to reflect and detoxify, as you wander through the temples and shrines of Bodh Gaya.