One of the holiest sites of worship for the followers of Buddhism, Bodhgaya is located in the northeastern state of Bihar in India. The Mahabodhi tree, where Gautama Buddha attained spiritual enlightenment is visited by tourists in large numbers every year. Though the original tree has died, a direct descendant of the Bodhi tree still lives in its place. The tree stands on a shrine erected by Emperor Ashoka, containing intricate artful inscriptions of Buddha on it. The red sandstone seen under the tree is believed to have been sat on by Buddha during the time he spent there.
The temple complex built around the Mahabodhi tree with the Vajrasana or “the diamond throne” built during the Gupta period is conserved in its pristine and natural beauty even today.
Bodhgaya hosts a number of conventions and discourses every year and they are conducted with great zeal and zest. They are usually held in the month of January and are attended by many seeking mental and spiritual peace.
Alongside being an important pilgrimage site for Buddhism, it is also a prominent center for study of Buddhism. The esteemed Magadh University is situated in Bodhgaya.
Gaya, an important place of worship for Hindus, located on the Falgu river is just outside of Bodhgaya, at an approximate distance of 13 kilometers.
Mahabodhi Temple and Mahabodhi Tree: It is also one of the most important shrines in India. The temple is well managed and maintained. It’s a blissful place, and architecturally impressive. The Mahabodhi Tree or the Tree of Awakening is the direct descendant of the Peepal tree under which Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. It stands next to the Mahabodhi Temple and is highly revered by the Buddhists.
Great Buddha Statue: Made of red granite and sandstone, this gigantic statue of Buddha is situated near the Mahabodhi Temple. Because of its impressive size, it is visible from great distances and can be used as a backdrop for photography.
Royal Bhutan Monastery: It’s a hidden gem at Bodhgaya. Its beauty is unparalleled,the interiors are decorated with attractive Bhutanese motifs and streamers. It also has beautiful 3D paintings on the wall. It was built by the King of Bhutan and is maintained by the Bhutanese Government.
Thai Monastery: It boasts of impressive architecture and is at a walking distance from the Mahabodhi temple. It has a resort-like atmosphere with beautiful gardens and cafes serving scrumptious food.
Indocin Nippon Japanese Temple: It is a beautiful temple with extraordinary architecture. One must visit it to experience peace and serenity.
Metta Buddharam Temple: It is a newly built temple and houses a marble statue of Buddha. The temple stands out particularly in the evening after it gets well lit.
One must also visit Chinese Temple, Burmese Vihara Monastery and Vietnamese Temple, to get a glimpse of their different architectural styles and designs.
Sujatha Temple: Though not well maintained this temple holds its own historic significance as it is believed to be a place where Buddha was given kheer (rice milk dish) to eat by a tribal lady called Sujatha.
When at Bodhgaya tourists should also visit Dajokyo Buddhist Temple, Sujata Kuti, Ajapala Nigrodha Tree, Palyul Namdroling Temple, and Gaya Ji Purohit
One must take a walk at Cankamana, usually covered with flowers it is this place where contemplative steps were taken by Buddha during the third week of his meditation. The serenity of this place can be felt and here, one can spend their time meditating. Inside the Mahabodhi Temple complex lies the lake of serenity, Muchinda Lake. It’s at this lake where Buddha spent his sixth week. One must spend some time here to connect deeply with nature. One must visit Dungeswari Cave Temples Situated at Dungeshwari Hills. It is the place where Buddha spent six years in meditation before he attained enlightenment.
The Sujata Hotel near Mahabodhi temple is quite popular. One can have coffee in their 24 hours coffee serving shop, their restaurant is also suitable for having lunch or dinner, where you can try various cuisines. Those who want to try Chinese food must visit the Chinese restaurant in the Hotel Royal Residency. Tibetan dumplings, noodles and other dishes can be tried at the famous Om Restaurant or the Fujia Green. One must visit the Root Institute to treat themselves with their mouth-watering vegetarian dishes.
If you want to enhance your knowledge of Buddhism do visit museums like Archaeological Society of Indian Museum and Bodhgaya Multi-media Museum. Both the museum houses a large collection of artifacts, paintings, and various displays of Buddhist teachings. Do explore the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture Rejuvenation.
The best place to buy souvenirs in Bodh Gaya is the Tibetan Refugee Market. Kundan Bazaar is another place that sells books on Buddhism along with handicrafts and souvenirs, Book lovers should definitely visit Mahabodhi Book shop for buying books on Buddhism, meditation, and spirituality. Bodh Gaya Handicrafts is one of the oldest shops in Bodh Gaya and one must visit it for buying personalized souvenirs, handicrafts, and sculptures.