Mahabodhi Temple, also known as the “Great Awakening Temple”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Bodhgaya, Bihar.
The temple marks the spot where Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment.
Emperor Ashoka, who built the original temple, was also seeking peace and solitude from war and conquests.
Now, let’s talk about the Bodhi Tree, which is located to the left of the temple. It’s believed to be the direct descendant of the actual tree where Lord Gautam Buddha meditated and achieved enlightenment. And, let me tell you, it’s a popular spot for monks and devotees to perform countless prostrations. I mean, some of these monks do up to 1,00,000 prostrations at one time! That’s some serious dedication.
But, did you know that if there’s no Bodhi Tree at the spot, the ground around the tree will be barren of any plants for the distance of one royal karisa? Not even an elephant can pass through that area.
The temple tower is whopping 55 meters tall and spreads over an area of 4.8 hectares. And, it’s surrounded by two types of railings, one made of sandstone dating back to 150 BC with illustrations of Goddess Laxmi being bathed by elephants, and the other made of unpolished granite with carvings of stupas or reliquary shrines, eagles, and lotuses.
And, let’s not forget about the gold-painted statue of Buddha in the sanctum shrine made of black stone. It’s seated in the Bhumisparsa Mudra aasana or the ‘Earth touching posture’. Plus, in 2013, the upper portion of the temple was covered with gold, as a gift from the King of Thailand and the devotees of Lord Gautam Buddha.
But, don’t forget to leave your cell phone outside as they’re not allowed inside the temple. And, when you’re there, don’t miss the sight of the monks and devotees worshiping around the Bodhi Tree. It’s a purificatory ritual that you won’t want to miss.
So, how do you get there? You can take a bus from the Gaya Bus Stand, from there it is only 12.4 km away, or hail a taxi or auto from anywhere around the city. It’s a popular attraction, so you won’t have any trouble finding it.
Overall, the Mahabodhi temple is a must-visit spot for any traveler, especially those interested in Buddhism and its history. And, who knows, you might even achieve some enlightenment of your own.