Bodhgaya , widely known as where the Buddha had his Spiritual awakening is a small town located in eastern part of India.
This land, considered as the land of enlightenment, attracts thousands of Buddhist pilgrims every year from round the world.
Although it is widely popular among Buddhist as a place of pilgrimage, many tourists visit this place to see different architectural marvels of Buddhist world.
Temples from China, Thailand, Myanmar and many other Buddhist countries are situated here which offers an amalgamation of heterogeneous architectural excellence at one place.
How to reach Bodhgaya:
Bodhgaya airport, situated merely 10km from the City connect this place with major Buddhist countries providing regular flights from most of the south East Asian countries.
This is also well connected through roadways and railways across all cities of India through the Eastern railway network and the Grand Trunk road.
For the tourists coming from Europe and America, it is preferable to taka a flight to New Delhi, the Indian Capital city and then take a connecting flight (not frequent though) or a train to reach Bodhgaya.
Best time to Visit:
Although this place is thriving by both local and foreign visitors throughout the year, I would recommend you to visit between September and February which is winter in India. Summer is generally too hot and temperature goes beyond 45 degree Celsius and hence it not preferred season to visit, especially northern India. One can also plan a tour during "Kal chakra Festival", organized every year as per the Buddhist tradition. During the festival, thousands of devotees from all across the globe visit Bodhgaya to be a part of the grand celebration. Because of this, all the hotels, resorts and guests houses remain booked at this time. To save yourself from all the accommodation issues, it is best to get your accommodation booked beforehand. Also, as it is the peak season, it is advised to book the air tickets before they reach high price.
This place is full of enchanting temples, and monasteries. However some of the major attractions among tourists are:
1. Mahabodhi Temple:
This is the main attraction of Bodhgaya with Bodhi tree inside the premise. The beauty of temple is intact even after thousands of years of its construction. Many restoration works have been carried out from time to time to maintain its beauty.
The whole temple looks magnificent in black stone with engravings from the Buddha's life. The temple complex includes two large straight-sided shikhara towers, the largest over 55 meters (180 feet) high. The gigantic structure is a fine example of rich Indian architectural history.
One can easily see Buddhist Monks sitting beside the temple sanctorium, meditating and chanting Buddha’s teachings. The powerful recital of mantras in traditional Buddhist way could awaken the spiritual seeking of even a common man. I felt completeness inside myself for the time I was inside the sanctorium. Behind the main sanctorium lies "Bodhi Tree", the symbol of Enlightenment in Buddhism. This tree, a direct descendent of the original Banyan tree under which Buddha had meditated and got the enlightenment, is a revered living symbol existing in this world after Buddha's demise.
Even after thousands of years of Buddha, the tree still witnesses the awakening of many Buddha's followers. It won’t be wrong to say that this tree is the heart and soul of Bodhgaya.
This lake is situated inside the temple premise at few yards from the main temple sanctorium. It has got its name from the mighty King of Serpents, Mucalinda who according to legend protected Gautma from rain under his hood. Between the Lake on an elevated platform one can see Gautma mediating under the protection of serpent Mucanda. The lake houses thousands of fishes which are fed by tourists and the temple managing committee.
3.Daijokyo Buddhist Temple:
This temple is situated at distance of one km form the Mahabodhi temple. The temple like many others has a meditation hall and beautiful garden surrounding it, however the most prominent feature of the temple is the 64 foots tall Great Buddha Statue made of sandstone and granite. The statue depicts Buddha sitting in meditative posture with a pleasant calmness on his face. The statue is so huge that it can be located from a distance. Main statute is surrounded by seven smaller statues depicting his disciples.
4. Bhutanese/Vietnamese/Tibetan Monasteries:
There are numerous monasteries built and owned by various countries in Bodhgaya, however Bhutanese, Vietnamese and Tibetan are major attractions among the visitors. These are built in their native style with sound architectural brilliance. Vietnamese Temple is the most recently constructed shrine in the area and features a serene looking statue of Buddha which exudes a calming aura and appears to be smiling.
When I visited this place for the first time I was spell bounded by its pristine beauty and serenity. I have been to this place for quite a few times since then but it never stops me from returning. This place provided Gautma what he asked for and continue do it even today. This place is answer to millions of questions, quenches thrust of thousands of seekers who needs spiritual awakening and bestow the serenity that Buddha experienced, to his devotee. Nevertheless Buddha said, It’s better to travel well than to arrive.
This post was written by Vimal Krishna.
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