What to See
Mahabodhi Temple: Undoubtedly Bodhgaya's main attraction, the Mahabodhi temple is declared as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. The base of the temple is a square measuring over 45 metres and it stretches in a pyramid shape, ending in a smaller square platform towards the top. The exterior of the temple is covered with scenes from Buddha's life. Within the temple is a colossal image of the Buddha in a seated position, touching the earth with his right hand. The statue is made of black stone, though it has been covered in gold and enrobed in bright orange robes.
The outer courtyard has several smaller stupas and Buddha statues, some dating to several hundred years. Among these oldest structures, is the Bodhi Tree, which is actually a descendent of the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. It is also the spot marked as the Jewel Walk, where Buddha is believed to have practiced walking meditation for seven days after his enlightenment.
Owing to its close association to Buddha, the tree has great significance. In fact, prior to Buddha's image, the tree was used as a symbol to represent him. It is believed that pilgrims carried and planted leaves and seeds of the Bodhi Tree to their monasteries as a symbol of Buddhist teachings.
Also known as Diamond Throne or Thunder Seat, Vajrasana is a large rectangular slab of red sandstone covered with a gold canopy under the Bodhi Tree. This marks the spot where Buddha was seated when he attained enlightenment. The top of the canopy is decorated with an unusual geometric design and this seat is decorated with flowers and an urn to collect donations or offerings.
A whitewashed temple, Animeshlochana Chaitya is located off the walk to the Mahabodhi Temple. A miniature of the grand temple, it marks the spot where Buddha spent a week gazing at the Bodhi Tree in gratitude after attaining enlightenment. It is said that he stood here unblinking (animesh; hence the name).
Also known as the Jewel Walk, Chankamana is a raised platform where Buddha's foot impression is visible. Legends have it that Buddha walked here in meditation. It is said that wherever he walked, lotus flowers sprung up and this is depicted by the 18-lotus carvings on the platform.
Located on the north-west of the main temple, Ratnaghara is a roofless shrine where Buddha is believed to have meditated. Legends have it that while he meditated here, a mukti-hued ray of light emanated from his body and these are the colours that are found on the prayer flags of countries that follow Buddhism.
Buddha is believed to have spent the fifth week of meditation under the Ajapala Nigrodha Tree. His sixth week of meditation was spent near the Muchalinda Lake, which has a statue of the Buddha in the centre of the lake with a huge serpent protecting him. The final stop for devotees in the temple complex is the Rajayatna Tree, where Buddha spent his seventh week of meditation.
Open from 5.00 am-9.00 pm
Entry free; Still camera photography: Rs 20, video: Rs. 300
Footwear to be deposited at designated place outside the temple: Rs 1 per pair
Tibetan Temple: Located near the Mahabodhi Temple, this temple houses within it a large collection of Buddhist paintings and thangkas and a statue of Maitreya Buddha. A particularly striking feature is the huge Dharma Chakra or wheel of Law. It is believed that anyone rotating this heavy wheel three times in succession will be freed of all sin.
Bodhi Sarovar: This pond is situated towards the west of the Bodhi Temple and is believed to be the place where Buddha bathed before going into meditation.
The Archeological Museum: Maintained and managed by the Archeological Survey of India, the museum houses a large collection of stone sculptures and artifacts. The museum has a small collection of Buddha statues and pillars found in the area as well as bronze statues that date back to the Stone Age and Gupta period.
Open from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm, Closed on Friday
Entry fee - Rs 2
Monasteries and Temples: There are a number of monasteries and Buddhist temples in Bodhgaya, that offer tourist a unique opportunity to experience Buddhist culture. You can head out to the Thai Monastery which is brightly decorated like the one in Thailand. The Japanese Temple with its blue tiled roof is magnificent with its canopied ceiling. This large complex of the international societies in Bodhgaya houses offices, study areas, library and rooms for visitors. The Karma Temple and Namgyal Monastery houses sizeable prayer wheels and the Indosan Nipponji Temple is donned with a Japanese Pagoda roof. Wat Bodhgaya is another impressive temple that faces the main road next to the tourist bungalow. The Bhutanese temple has more or less a conventional architecture with a beautiful landscaped garden, while the Burmese Temple is shaped like a pagoda. There is a temple built by the Chinese too. It is white in colour and its architecture is a blend of traditional Chinese and Indian styles. The Buddha statue within is believed to have come from China two centuries ago.
Sujatha Sthane: Located across the dried Niranjan River is the sacred spot Sujatha Sthane. It is believed to be the spot where Sujatha, a young village woman offered prince Siddhartha a bowl of rice pudding, which helped him get a miraculous recovery from his ailment.
Meditation and Learning: The Bodhgaya International Vipassana Meditation Centre runs intensive 10 day vipassana courses monthly. There's the International Meditation centre that runs courses year round. You can take free Zazen sessions (Zen meditation) at the Nipponji Temple early mornings and evenings.
Top Hotels in Bodhgaya
Top Landmarks in Bodhgaya
- Hotels Near Gaya Railway Station
- Hotels Near Vishnupad Temple
- Hotels Near Mahabodhi Temple
- Hotels Near Parasnath Hill
- Hotels Near Gaya Airport