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Bodhgaya - The Destination

MahaBodhiTemple, Bodhgaya

The life of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, is associated with the small town of Bodhgaya. It is one of the four holiest cities of Buddhist faith. The four most holy places associated with the Buddha are Lumbini, his birthplace, in Nepal; Sarnath, near Varanasi, where he preached his first message; Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur, where he died; and Bodhgaya, where he attained enlightenment. Bodhgaya is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. Apart from being a significant archaeological site, it is also a vital Buddhist centre.

Devoted Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to simply absorb the aura of solemn grandeur that surrounds the place. Bodhgaya is a quiet and peaceful place. You could visit Bodhgaya in a day, or even plan a long study leave, depending on your inclination.

The Mahabodhi temple is the main attraction of this town and is located near the spot where Lord Buddha attained spiritual enlightenment. Bodhgaya is not only an important Buddhist pilgrim center, but it is also an important center for the study of Buddhism. Bodhgaya is located in the central part of the state of Bihar, in the northeastern part of India. It is the part of the great Ganges plains. It is situated on the west of the Falgu River, which is a tributary of River Ganga (Ganges). It is 13 km south of Gaya and 113 km south of Patna city.

Exotically robed monks from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Tibet, Thailand, China, Bhutan and Japan, the ubiquitous Western neophytes, the many modern temples, dharamshalas (rest-houses) and monasteries, built by devotees from all over the Buddhist world each in their own distinctive architectural style - the recent revival of Buddhism is wonderfully evident in the sights and sounds of Bodhgaya. Of all the sites on the Buddhist pilgrim route, Bodhgaya is easily the most exciting. For it is not merely a historical site, but a vibrant center of a living faith. The Dalai Lama often comes down from his headquarters in Dharamsala to spend the winter here. The mood in this little village is serene and friendly - an expression of the Master’s gentle creed.

Among the modern temples, of particular interest is the Japanese temple with its highly polished floors and gold statues. The Thai temple is a colorful pagoda aglitter with gilding. There is an ornately painted Tibetan temple and a beautiful Bhutanese shrine overflowing with brightly colored carvings of the fearsome pantheon that guards their little Himalayan kingdom.

However, to really experience Buddhist enthusiasm and character, you must be here during the Buddh Purnima celebrations, or during the 3-week long Nyingma Monlam Chenmo for world peace. In keeping with their principles, the celebrations are shorn of pomp and spectacle. Rather, there is meditation and recitation of the scriptures, and alms are distributed to the poor.

Bodhgaya - Facts at a Glance

State : Bihar
Temperature : 27°C - 40°C (Summers)
8°C - 20°C (Winters)
Rainfall : 1,860mm
Altitude : 113 mts
Best Season : During winter months before February


History of Bodhgaya

The history of this small town has been associated with Buddhism since ancient times. The region around Bodhgaya formed the part of the first small kingdoms of India in the 7th century BC. It came into limelight in 6th century BC, when a local prince Siddharth (also known as Gautam) renounced all material possession and, after practicing rigorous penances for years, attained Enlightenment or Nirvana under a Bodhi (Bo) tree here. After gaining Enlightenment, Gautam became Buddha (The Enlightened One) and spread his message of love and peace. To mark the spot where Gautam Buddha had attained Enlightenment, the great Mauryan ruler King Ashoka built a small shrine here in the 3rd century BC. Subsequent rulers left their mark on this shrine, which finally took the shape of the Mahabodhi temple that still stands.

Events in Bodhgaya


The meditation institutes of Bodhgaya organize a number of conventions, special meetings and discourses. These are usually held in the months of January and February. If you are seeking peace of mind and spiritual upliftment must visit these programs. Important Buddhist religious festivals are celebrated with great fervor in Bodhgaya. Buddha Purnima is the most important of Buddhist festivals organized in Bodhgaya. Buddha Purnima or Buddha Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the Buddha is widely celebrated, on a full moon night in April/May. Buddha was born on the Full Moon day in the month of Vaisakh in 563 BC. He achieved enlightenment as well as nirvana on the same date. It is also believed that Yashodara, Gautam's wife, his charioteer Channa and even his horse Kantaka were born on the same day. On this day, Buddhists offer prayers in their temples. The main centres of this celebration are Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh and Bodh Gaya in Bihar.
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