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The four most holy places associated with the Buddha are Lumbini, his birthplace, in Nepal; Sarnath, near Varanasi, where he preached his first message; Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur, where he died; and Bodhgaya, where he attained enlightenment. Bodhgaya is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. Apart from being a significant archaeological site, it is also a vital Buddhist centre. Devout Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to simply absorb the aura of solemn grandeur that surrounds the place. Bodhgaya is a quiet and peaceful place. You could visit Bodhgaya in a day, or even plan a long study leave, depending on your inclination.

The Bodhi Tree At the western side of the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya stands the large and historic Bodhi Tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha, then known as Gautama, attained enlightenment some 2540 years ago. Gautam, had been practicing austerities for six years in the area of the Niranjana River near Bodhgaya.

Finally understanding that this could not lead to realisation, he abandoned his austerities and in the nearby village of Senani (now also known as Sujata) the Brahmin girl Sujata offered him milk-rice. Strengthened by this, he took some kusha grass for a mat and sat under the pipal tree facing east. He resolved not to rise until he attained enlightenment. As he sat in deep meditation, Mara, Lord of Illusion, symbolising the delusions of one's own mind, tried tirelessly to distract him from his purpose. Gautama then touched the earth, calling it to bear witness to the countless lifetimes of virtue that led him to this place of enlightenment.

Places to See :

Mahabodhi Temple : The Mahabodhi Temple stands east to the Bodhi Tree. Its architectural effect is superb. Its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid, till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. The total height of the temple is 170 feet and on the top of the temple are Chatras which symbolise sovereignty of religion. Four towers on its four corners rise gracefully giving the holy sturcture a poise and balance. The entire courtyard of the temple is studded with a large number of varieties of stupas--votive, decorative, memorative. These stupas are of all sizes built during the past 2500 years ago. Most of them are extremely elegant in structural beauty.

Vajrasana : Vajrasana, the seat of stability. The Buddha supposed to have say in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi tree, where the Vajrasana, the stone platform is kept.

Ancient Railings : The ancient railings which surround the temple are of first cintury BC and are very interesting monuments of the country.

Chankaramana : This marks the sacred spot of the Buddha's meditative perambulation during the third week after pious enlightenment. It is believed that wherever the Buddha put his feet lotus sprang up.

Animeshlochana : It is believed that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the treat Mahabodhi Tree out of gratitude, without twinkling his eyes.

Ratnagar : The Buddha spent one week here, where it is believed that five colours came out of his body.

Lotus Tank : The sacred tank where it is believed that Buddha had spent one week.

How to Reach :

Air : Nearest airport is Gaya 12 kms. However convienent airport is Patna. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Ranchi & Lucknow.

Rail : The nearest railhead is at Gaya, 12 kms. Road: Bodh Gaya is connected by road to Gaya 12 kms, Nalanda 62 kms, Rajgir 46 kms, Patna 152 kms, Varanasi 215 kms, Calcutta 482 kms.

Road : Daily bus services connect Bodhgaya with Gaya, Patna, Nalanda, Rajgir, Varanasi etc.

Local Transport : Cycle Rickshaws, Tongas, Auto Rickshaws are available.

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