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Tourist Places To Visit In Bodhgaya
100 km from Patna, the capital of Bihar, Gaya is a pilgrimage destination in India that is just like Varanasi, the holy town. It is in Bodh Gaya that Buddha attained enlightenment following many years of penance. Bodh Gaya which is only 13km away from Gaya is the sacred place for Buddhists all over the globe. Bodh Gaya was earlier known as Uruwela and it was here that the great king Ashoka built a temple here. The Mahabodhi Temple where Buddha attained Nirvana is a place that attracts thousands every day. There are several tourist places to visit in Bodh Gaya and some of these are detailed below.
An approved UNESCO Heritage Site, the Mahabodhi Temple though of ancient vintage has in reality been rebuilt and restored. This temple marks the location where Buddha attained his enlightenment. At the site you will find the descendant of the actual Bodhi Tree under which Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. This location is therefore a great destination for the pilgrimage of Buddhists and Hindus for more than 2000 years. It is possible to get this date to fit the date Ashoka died which is 232 BC. What we can see now is what dates from 7th Century AD or a little earlier. A good amount of restoration has been done since 19th Century. However, the present structure must incorporate large portions of the work that dates back to the 2nd/3rd Century AD. A large portion of the oldest elements of sculpture have been placed inside the museum which is adjacent to the temple while some sections have been substituted by good replicas.
Great Buddha Statue
The Giant Buddha statue is one more essential stop in the pilgrimage of Buddhists and Hindus. The statue is 64’ in height and is in the dhyan mudra of Buddha who is seated in a lotus in the open air. 12,000 masons created this beautiful statue in seven years. The statue is created of a mix of blocks of sandstone and red granite. It was built in India and finally consecrated by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama on the 18th of November 1989. The artist of the statue is Rishikesh Dasgupta.
The origin of the name stems from Sanskrit Bodhi Briksha and is basically a peepal tree or what is known as the ancient sacred fig tree. This is considered one of the most sacred places by Buddhists as well as Hindus and Jains. The tree that stands today is the descendant of the actual Bodhi Tree under which Buddha gained enlightenment more than 2000 years ago. There are several such trees that are growing all around both in the precincts of and outside the Mahabodhi Temple. The other similar Bodhi trees include the Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka at Anuradhapura and the one that grows in Sravasti known as the Anandabodhi tree.
Royal Bhutan Monastery
The Royal Bhutan Monastery is among the most beautiful monasteries in Bodhgaya. This monastery that depicts Buddha’s life in carvings in clay, attracts hordes of visitors from all over the world. Constructed by the King of Bhutan as tribute to Buddha, the monastery is in exquisite architecture entirely traditional. The carved and decorated monastery has a rest house for the monks from Bhutan. There is a temple inside the monastery which has an image of Buddha that is 7’ in height. The image is carved with symbols and scriptures. The Bhutanese monastery’s monk conducts discourses on the life and teachings of Buddha besides organizing prayers at the temple. The monastery has spacious rooms in its guest house where you can stay.
Built in 1956 by the monarch of Thailand, the Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya was built at the request of the then PM of India, Pt Nehru. The monastery is unique in that this is the only Thai temple in the country. The monastery displays the distinctive elegance of the architecture of Thailand and is decorated with a roof that slopes and curves in a typical style. The tiles are golden and the exterior is truly exquisite. The monastery houses a huge statue of Buddha in bronze. The atmosphere inside is peaceful and quiet. It is a pleasure to visit this monastery.
Metta Buddharam Temple
The silver temple or the Metta Buddharam Temple in Bodh Gaya is an amazing temple that was built by the Thais. There is a very large statue of Buddha in white that adorns an exquisite pagoda in silver and is located at the back of the temple. Since the temple is slightly off the main road there may be a possibility for you to miss it. But, the newly built statue of Buddha is beautiful and most impressive, so do not miss it.
Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple
The Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple is located 15km from the city centre. It reflects the Japanese form of architecture and the temple has been carved with the preaching of Buddha. Carved entirely out of wood this temple that was built in 1972 is among the most popular temples in Bodh Gaya. The major attraction of the temple is its wooden carvings that are intricate and charming. There is a gallery in the temple where visitors will find Japanese paintings that elaborate on the life of Buddha. Visitors must enjoy the ambience and tranquillity of this strikingly beautiful temple.
The Dungeswari Hills or Mahakala Caves as the site is also known as, is the place where Buddha spent many years before he came to Bodh Gaya. The visit was when he was in search of true knowledge and the search was not fruitful because of which he continued his travels and went to several other places on his search. The caves are located along the River Phalgu and to reach this site you will have to come away from the city and head for the hills. The drive is most pleasing and scenic and the caves have several Buddhist and Hindu stupas and temples. There is a Buddha’s statue inside one of the caves which reminds us of the tough penance that Buddha underwent. There is an idol of Dungeshwari, a Hindu goddess, as well, inside the cave temple. The caves generate tremendous energy because of Buddha who had stayed here.