The famous Mahabodhi temple Gaya also called the “Great Awakening Temple”, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the holy city Bodhgaya, a northern state of India Bihar. It is a popular Buddhist temple of the world that keep marks of the place where the Lord Mahatma Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. Lord Gautam Buddha holds a very significant place in the religious ancient history of India as he is believed to be the 9th and the most recent incarnation of Lord Vishnu to have walked the earth.
The Buddhist temples spread over an area of a whopping 4.8 hectares and are 55 meters tall. The famous Bodhi Tree is situated to the left of the Mahabodhi temple and is believed to be the direct descendant of the actual bodhi tree under which Lord Mahatma Gautam Buddha meditated and attained acknowledgment enlightenment and laid down his philosophy for life and peace. The original Mahabodhi temple was built by Emperor Great Ashoka after he turned to Buddhism in order to seek peace and solitude from war and conquests.
The Bodhi Tree: The Enlightenment Tree
The great ruler Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya around 260 BC. During his visit, he built a small temple near a tree, which was the Bodhi tree – the tree under which Gautama Buddha sat when he obtained enlightenment. An inscription dated between the 1st century and the 2nd century said that the temple built by Emperor Ashoka was replaced by a new one. Many monks and devotees can be seen making up countless exhaustions to the tree. It is a cleansing ritual, and it is known that some monks perform up to 1,000,000 exhaustions at a time. The architecture of the temple and its general silence and peace will surely delight you as you visit it.
History of Mahabodhi Temple Gaya
The original structure of the temple was mainly made of brick, covered with stucco, which is not a very durable base compared to stone. However, the original structure has survived impressively for many years against all odds for its salvation. In fact, it is one of the oldest and most impressive structures made entirely of bricks from the Gupta period.
Given the centuries that have passed since its construction, it is likely to be affected by the new environment and the inevitable wear and tear. In 1883 a very detailed and complete scientific renovation of the temple was carried out under the guidance of the famous British archaeologist Sir A. Cunningham, J.M Beglar, and the famous Indian archaeologist Dr. Rajendra Lal Mitra. On the occasion of the 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebration, the Indian government made further repairs of the ancient temple and expanded its facilities. For this reason, the temple has undergone several restorations, renovations, and repairs in order to preserve its incomparable beauty.
How to get to Mahabodhi Gaya Temple
The nearest railway station to Mahabodhi Temple is Gaya Railway Station, which is 16 km away from the sight. You can take a taxi or hire a car from the station to the temple and it costs around INR 80 to INR 120. Rickshaws are rarely missing, so negotiation is not only possible but advisable.
Taking a bus to Gaya Bus Stand, which is only 12.4 km away, is also a convenient and affordable option. You can even call taxis and cars anywhere in the city and you will have no problem finding this extremely popular attraction.