Mahabodhi Temple- Buddhist Shrine, UNESCO World
Mahabodhi temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002 is located in Bodh Gaya of Gaya district in Bihar, India and is considered as one of the most popular spiritual destinations and pilgrimages in the subcontinent. It is 96km away from Patna, the capital city of Bihar. The temple is surrounded by the holy Bodhi tree (fig), the fifth successor of the Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained his ‘moksha’ or enlightenment. The tallest tower of Mahabodhi temple is 180ft tall. During the year 2013, the spire of the temple was covered with gold gifted from Thai devotees and supplied from Bangkok.
Popularly known as Bodhgaya temple, Mahabodhi temple was built by Emperor Ashoka around 260B.C. at the place where Buddha sat and meditated until he found the answers he sought to free mankind from the plea of suffering. According to history, Buddha was a prince named Siddhartha who wandered around the woods, villages and places in search for truth to end suffering of mankind leaving behind his royal family including his wife and newly born.
In his relentless search for truth, prince Siddhartha then arrived Goya and sat under a peepal tree to attain true knowledge and finally attained ‘moksha’ or Supreme Enlightenment at the age of 35.After attaining enlightenment, Buddha was said to have spent seven weeks in seven different spots around the Bodhi tree meditating and contemplating about his experience.
About 200years after his enlightenment, king Ashoka built Mahabodhi temple which was restored during the 1880s under the British Raj and finally gold plated in 2013. The slender pyramidal structure of Mahabodhi temple is an architectural marvel standing 170ft high with four towers on its corners gracefully balancing its elegance through the ages. Inside the temple, lies a colossal statue of Buddha made of black stone. Ancient railings surrounding the temple and age old stupas dating back more than 2000years in history makes the temple an immaculate and stunning emblem of Buddhist architecture of all times.
How to Reach
Gaya is the nearest airport to the temple while Patna is the larger one located at a distance of 135km from the temple vicinity. Several domestic airlines connect Patna airport to the major airports in the country.
Gaya railway station is also another option to reach the temple from other main cities. Buses from Patna run to Gaya and are conducted by Bihar State Tourism Corporation and can be considered as a secure road travel option to the temple. Taxis, tongas and rickshaws are also available to take you to the temple once you are in the state of Bihar.
There are many tourist Bungalaws and places one can stay during the visit.
October and March is the best season to visit this beautiful Buddhist shrine and the temple remains open from 5A.M. to 9P.M
With its thousand years’ past history and legends of Buddha echoing through the brick walls of the temple complex, the revered sight of Mahabodhi temple bestows us with a sense of peace, equality and enlightenment.