Friday, May 20, 2016

Bodhgaya where Buddha attained enlightenment

From the last few years I have been visiting more of Buddhist monasteries. I have a huge list of Buddha related places I have visited. But I always wanted to visit two Places which are significant for Buddha. Bodhgaya where he enlightened and Lumbini where he was born. I got a chance to visit Bodhgaya recently.
Bodhgaya is a small town 70 kms from Patna in the state of Bihar in India. Probably this place has taken a shape of a town after the rise of shops,  hotels and restaurants around Bodhgaya temple complex. This is a pilgrimage center for Buddhists. This is believed to be the place of Buddha’s enlightenment under Bodhi tree.
I reached there in the evening. Temple complex was bustling with people. It was more of international crowd. I avoided the guides who were offering to show 6 sites in the complex and opted to explore myself. The path ahead took me to security check. Here security is very strict they don’t even allow to take any bag. Only camera can be taken after paying for Camera fee.
Mahabodhi temple, Bodhgaya
The first view is of the temple which is the tallest structure in entire Bodhgaya. It is visible from all the corners of the town. It has taken its current shape over the years. The structure looked pretty new may be few decades. However, I was told the temple was built in Gupta period and had gone through several restorations.

I was looking for Bodhi tree around. There are many but was sure they were not  ‘ The Bodhi tree’ as there was no crowd. I followed the people walking with devotion. It lead to inside of the temple. Gold coated Buddha’s statue was the focus of the temple. The design of people tree leaf on the ceiling of the statue was very nice. The yellow robe with the leaf design is for sale in all the shops to offer to Buddha. Apart from the statue there is nothing much inside. There was stairs leading to upper floor but it was closed.

After coming out of the temple I followed another set of devotees around the temple. I was excited to see the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. Isn’t it something I have been reading from the childhood and was even looking forward to sit under the tree to feel the vibes.
Mabodhi tree, Bodhgaya
All around the temple there are small idols on the wall showing different  forms of Buddha. Exactly behind the temple is the Bodhi tree, not the original but apparently 5th generation of the tree. The vajrasan or the place where Buddha mediated and attained enlightenment 2600 years ago is completely surrounded all around by railing. On one side there is temple wall curbing the growth of the tree. I felt suffocating looking at the tree as there was  no space for tree to breath. It is leaned towards one side spreading its shelter to the devotees in mediation. The devotees around the tree were largely international. There were many small groups in white clothes and monks in saffron/red robes chanting in different languages and there were masters teaching in different languages. I could make out Japanese, Thailand and a small group of Indians. Under the tree little away from the groups were monks  busy in prostration on a wooden plank which is a typical view in any Buddhist place. I sat there for some time to feel the place. It was a nice evening with good vibes around. But the thought about the tree didn’t go away from my mind. Mahabodhi temple society should have done something else to make the tree breath properly.

The whole temple complex is very vast with nice garden. Marigold flowers will add vibrant colors to the garden as it is the main flower used for worship apart from lotus.
Around the temple there are other important places which are considered as important from the point of Buddha’s enlightenment journey. In front of the main temple is the the board mentioning vatavriksh where Buddha meditated after enlightenment.
 There is a nice pond called muchalind sarovar .  In the centre is Buddha statue under the hood of the snake. Apparently, the snake Muchalind saved Buddha from unprecedented rain when Buddha was in meditation.
There is one more signboard   at the right of the entrance to the temple stating ‘ After enlightenment  the lord Buddha spent two weeks in meditation gazing unwinkingly at the Bodhi tree’.
There are many stupas inside the park. There is a meditation park as well. Stupas are decorated with water cups and marigold on top of that. The whole park is charged with meditative mood. For me it felt just like any other hindu temple complex with less noise. After one complete circumambulation of the  park I left the compelx but couldn’t take out Bodhi tree out of my mind.
Mahabodhi temple, Bodhgaya, Bihar

- Temple is open from 5 am to 9 pm
- Don't get confused with many pupil trees around the temple. It is right behind the main temple
- Bags are not allowed inside. Ensure to leave your belongings in the hotel or car.
- INR 100 will be charged to carry your camera at the entrance of the gate

Other related links you might want to read -
6 Buddha images from the world 


  1. Good description of the place..Will be really useful for tourists planning to visit. Keep up the good work!.

  2. Great post, I especially liked your last image :-)
    You may like to also link to the Saturday Silhouettes meme:

    1. Thanks Nick. I did try the link. But somehow couldn't get how to link !

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