Bodh Gaya – Holy Sites of Buddhism

Bodhgaya is probably one of the holiest places for Buddhists, as it is on this world heritage sites in India where Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment. According to a popular legend has it that the shrine Mahabodhi Temple is located on the very spot where Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) bid farewell to the five disciples who had accompanied him through his six years of penance and meditation in the caves of the surrounding hills. Dejected by the fact that he had still not unlocked the mysteries of life and human suffering he pleaded with them to move on and leave him alone. Soon after they had departed the young prince sat down to his first meal in six years: a bowl of yogurt and rice offered to him by an old lady who lived in a hut close by. He then crossed the sandy stretch, a frail skeleton-like figure trudging across the barren river bed to the forest on the other side. That very night during the Hindu month of Vaisakh (April-May) under the gaze of a full moon Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment as he sat in deep meditation under the sacred Bodhitree. The story goes that as soon as Prince Siddhartha arrived in what was then a dense forest, he sat down to meditate on a bundle of straw under a bodhitree. A little later the earth heaved and a slab of polished stone emerged directly under him. And that very night, he attained enlightenment and was reborn as Lord Buddha. This is where religion Buddhism can find its traces and origins.

Today, the forest has been transformed into the sprawling Mahabodhi temple complex of manicured gardens and shrines. Emperor Ashoka is said to have built the original temple when he visited the site 250 years after the Buddha attained nirvana. In 1AD the temple was renovated and extended. However with the decline of Buddhism in India it fell into ruins and it was in the late 19th century that the British Archeologically Society excavated the site and rebuilt the temple within which a larger-than-life gilded statue of the Buddha is enshrined. Mahabodhi Temple, today attracts numerous Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Tibetans’, Sri Lankans, Bhutanese, Vietnamese, Nepali and Burmese pilgrims throughout the year. The closest airport to Mahabodhi Temple Bodhgaya, is at Gaya which is 15 km from Budhgaya. Gaya is also the closest railway station to the pilgrim town. Patna is 125 km away. This world heritage sites in India houses a number of hotels and lodges in Budgaya from budget to star category; including properties run by Bihar Tourism.

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