Bodh Gaya, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, is the place of supreme serenity. The small town located in the state of Bihar is that blessed land where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. Adorned with beautiful Buddhist architecture and filled with the stories of Buddha, the place is a sacred land stepping on which you will feel relaxed and poised.
Gautam Buddha left his life of comforts to attain supreme knowledge. He tried various forms of asceticism while wandering around six years in search of true knowledge. However, he could not find the answers he was looking for. So, he sat under a banyan tree and meditated to get all the answers he was looking for. It was after four weeks of continuous meditation that he gained enlightenment and became Buddha, “the enlightened one”. The tree under which he sat is the Bodhi tree located in Uruvela (presently known as Bodh Gaya). Since then, Buddha’s followers visit the serene city of Bodh Gaya to seek his blessings and it has attained much popularity. In the 3rd Century BCE, King Asoka, a Mauryan ruler, built a shrine to mark the place. Later, it was replaced by the Mahabodhi Temple during the 2nd century.
Places to visit in Bodh Gaya
Being one of the prime Buddhist locations, Bodh Gaya houses some of the most important sites that you must visit.
To mark Buddha’s place of enlightenment, King Asoka created a shrine. Over time, the shrine was modified, and later on, it was replaced by the beautiful Mahabodhi temple. Numerous Buddhist sculptures adorn the temple which rises to a height of 170 ft. Four pillars surround the temple structure which has chatras at the top. The inner sanctum has a huge image of Buddha in bhumiparsha mudra (touching the ground pose). Owing to its beauty and rich history, the temple comes in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
The Bodhi Tree
Gautam Buddha gained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The tree holds great significance for Buddhists and has been preserved for the pilgrims that come here to seek blessings. The tree that stands at the place currently is the fifth descendant of the original Bodhi tree. It lies in the Mahabodhi temple complex and stands to the west of the temple.
Near the Bodhi Tree, sits a diamond throne, called Vajrasana. The throne is created over a stone with a canopy and is supported by four pillars. It represents the seat of enlightenment. Studies state that King Ashoka placed the seat to mark the place of Buddha’s enlightenment.
Besides, the above-mentioned places there are many other monasteries, temples, and places related to Buddha that you can visit. These include the 80ft Buddha Statue, Sujata Garh, Archaeological museum, Burmese temple, Chinese, Thai and Tibetan Monasteries, International Buddhist House & Japanese temple, etc.
How to reach Bodh Gaya?
Bodh Gaya is a small town located in the north-eastern state of Bihar. Being a popular Buddhist Pilgrimage place, you can reach it easily via any mode of transport: air, rail, or road.
Air: Gaya Airport is the nearest airport to Bodh Gaya (7 km). It is an international airport that brings in pilgrims to the place from around the world.
Rail: You can reach the place easily via rail as well. The Gaya railway station is 17kms from the site. The Bihar Tourism Board has also started “Wonder on Wheel”, a special caravan service between Patna, the capital of Bihar, and Bodh Gaya.
Road: The place is well connected through road to various other cities of Bihar and prominent Buddhist places like Rajgir, Nalanda, and Varanasi. Buses regularly ply from Patna to Bodh Gaya twice a day. Also, you can opt for chartered tours via buses or taxis.
Please note that to enter Bodh Gaya via private vehicle, you will require a special permit, otherwise you can go for e-rickshaws that are noiseless. It is done to maintain the peacefulness of the place.