Bihar- the erstwhile Magadh Empire and the land of Buddha should be certainly in your bucket list. This northern Indian state has planes developed by the rivers like Ganga, there is hardly any hill or waterfall you will find. But, this state has a rich historical background and a heritage. There are many archaeological sites, ruins like the great Nalanda University and a world heritage site like Bodh Gaya.
So, let’s have a brief information for your next Bodh Gaya trip.
Although there are a variety of places to visit in Bodh Gaya, but there are four main centers of Buddhism – Lumbini, Kushinagar, Sarnath and Bodh Gaya – inspire realization in the highest place because it is the place where Siddartha became Gautam Buddha, and the foundation of Buddhism was laid down. There are two things of most importance in Bodh Gaya – Mahabodhi Temple and the statue of 80 feet Buddha Statue.
There is also a Vishnupad temple. Apart from these, there are many things related to Buddhism, such as Bhutanese Temple, Japanese Temple, Chinese Temple, Thai Temple etc. – you will surely find it here. A large number of Buddhist monasteries can also be easily seen.
The Mahabodhi Temple: A World Heritage Site
The Mahabodhi Temple is the center of Bodh Gaya. It is said that we have been studying since childhood that Buddha attained enlightenment under the Peepal tree located behind this temple. The Peepal tree, which is located behind the temple today, is the fifth generation descendant of the same thousand-year-old tree under which Buddha did penance.
2500 years after the Buddha’s demise, Emperor Ashoka built this Mahabodhi temple, some historians do not agree with it. But with the decline of Buddhism in India, the existence of this temple gradually started to subside, and the people started forgetting it, but in the nineteenth century digging it again came back to its glorious state. This temple has been declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 2002.
The temple premises is in equipped with full security system and tourists are not allowed to carry mobile phones, camera etc inside the campus. But if you want to carry camera then you will have to pay one hundred rupees for that, which is a huge amount. The temple complex is full of gardens where Buddhist followers of neighboring countries are mostly visible.
In the month of March, there was a considerable number of foreigners here, but at the time of Buddha Purnima, it is well decorated. There is a small market in the backside of the temple, you can buy souvenir related to Buddha . The Mahabodhi Temple always seems alive with the sound of “Buddhaam Sharanam Gachhami”. During the evening, the temple shines with colorful lights.
The 80 feet Buddha Statue
The biggest attraction of Bodh Gaya after Mahabodhi Temple is Buddha’s eight feet tall statue, at a distance of one kilometer from here, which was built in the eighties. This statue is made of stone and red granite in meditation of Buddha. There are standing statues of Buddha and ten of his disciples. Entry is absolutely free. This idol is all constructed and maintained by a Japanese Buddhist institution, also the maintenance of most of the roads and monuments of most parts of Bihar tourism like Rajgir, Nalanda etc. is maintained by various Japanese institutions.
About Food & Drinks in Bodh Gaya
Food and drinks available in Bodh Gaya are mostly north Indian, but nowadays many Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Burmese restaurants are also available. Yes, if you want Idli-Dosa, then it will definitely be a bit difficult.
Accommodation in Bodh Gaya
Since Bodh Gaya is an international tourist destination now, there is no dearth of hotels, more hotels are available in Bodh Gaya than in the main city Gaya. Also, the airport of Gaya has also became an international airport from where direct flights to China, Burma, Thailand etc. are available during few months of the year. This is the only tourist center of Bihar where foreigners can be seen. Gaya is also well connected by rail.
Only one day stay is enough to visit Bodh Gaya, thereafter you can go to Rajgir and Nalanda. But one more new attraction which became popular last year is the village ‘Gahlaur’ of the legend Dasharath Manjhi, located thirty kilometers from Gaya. Then the next post will be about an exciting tour of that village and Manjhi’s story about how he became the mountainman.