Buddhist Pilgrimage…..Mahabodhi Temple

Mahabodhi Temple is a Buddhist temple which is located at Bodh Gaya which is 96 Km from Patna, Bihar state of India. It is a major Buddhist site and the temple finds mention in the ancient literature. It is visited regularly by both Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims (many Hindus honor the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu). Among the four holy sites that are related to the life of Lord Buddha and his enlightenment, Mahabodhi temple is one of those holy sites. Literally the meaning of Mahabodhi Temple is “Great Awakening temple” and it is the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. The Mahabodhi temple was once known as Bodhimanda-vihara (Pali) and the Bodhi tree is the old sacred tree which is located adjacent to the Mahabodhi temple of Bodh Gaya. Bodhgaya is the second most sacred place of pilgrimage. In June 2002, the Mahabodhi Temple became a UNESCO World Heritage Site specifically nominated for the international World Heritage program. Mahabodhi Temple is acclaimed to be the property of Bihar State Government. The nearest airport is located at Patna that lies at a distance of 96 kms from Gaya. The holy town Bodh Gaya or Gaya has its own railway station. The town is also connected with major cities by network of roads. According to Jatakas, Bodhgaya is the navel of the earth. This is only place that could abide the power of the Buddha’s attainment.

Traditions say that around 530 BC, there was a young Indian Prince named Siddhartha Gautam. When he saw the suffering of the people around him and of the world in the whole he became very disturbed and wanted to end the suffering of everyone. In search of his quest one night he left his kingdom and family and reached the sylvan banks of Falgu River which is near the city of Gaya. There he sat under a peepul tree and started his meditation. Under that peepul tree he meditated for three days and there nights and after that the prince Sidhharth attained the enlightenment and the answers for his queries that he had sought. The tree under which he meditated later became to be known as Bodhi Tree and the Mahabodhi Temple is built to mark that location. Bodhi Tree is a significant part of Bodh Gaya, which is believed to grow on the day, Gautama Buddha was born. Under Bodhi tree, there is a platform embracing the footprints of Lord Buddha carved in stone. In its vicinity, a slab of red sandstone adorns the site. This slab marks the spot where the Lord sat in meditation. This site where Buddha attained his enlightenment is sacred for the Buddhists since time immemorial

Mahabodhi Buddha

The Mahabodhi Temple is constructed of brick. It is one of the few early monumental brick structures to have survived in eastern India. It is considered to be a fine example of Indian brickwork, and was highly influential in the development of later architectural traditions. According UNESCO, “the present temple is one of the earliest and most imposing structures built entirely in brick from the Gupta Period”. The architecture of this temple is unparalleled in North India. The canopy structure of this temple is very different and attractive from temples usually found in North India. The entire temple is surrounded on all the four sides by stone railings, about two metres high. The railings reveal two distinct types – both in style as well as the materials used. Most of the older ones are made of sandstone and the newer ones are made of granite and are said to be built during the Gupta period. The older railings have scenes such as Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and Surya, the Hindu sun god. The newer railings have figures of stupas and eagles. Images of lotus flower can also be seen. Mahabodhi Temple’s central towers rises 55 metres (180 ft), and were heavily renovated in the 19th century. The central tower is surrounded by four smaller towers, constructed in the same style. The other four towers constructed also exhibit the same style. The temple’s architecture gave birth to new architectural traditions.

Bodhi Tree

Inside the temple is a colossal image of a seated Buddha touching the earth with his right hand (a gesture known as the earth-witness mudra). In this posture the Buddha accomplished the supreme enlightenment. The statue is of black stone but it has been covered in gold and dressed in bright orange robes. It is said that the image is 1700 years old and positioned in a manner that Lord Buddha faces the east.The courtyard of the temple is studded with many smaller stupas and Buddha statues, some of which are several hundred years old. Parts of the railing that surrounds the area are among the oldest elements of Mahabodhi Temple that survive today. Immediately next to the Mahabodhi Temple is the Bodhi Tree, a descendent of the very tree under which the Buddha was enlightened, and the Jewel Walk, marking the place where the Buddha is said to have practiced walking meditation for seven days after his enlightenment. The temple is festooned with friezes that depict the life scenes of Buddha. Along the northern wall of temple, Chankramana Chaitya (Jewel Path) is a raised walkway, where Lord Buddha used to meditate while walking. Adjoining the temple, there is lotus pond that is said to have been the place, where Lord Buddha executed his ablutions. The original temple is assumed to have been constructed in the 3rd century, however the present structure dates back to 5th or 6th century

Emperor Ashoka can be called as the true founder of Mahabodhi Temple. Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya after almost 250 years of Lord Budhha’s enlightenment. He had a plan to establish a monastery and a shrine at the place. In order to mark the exact spot of Buddha’s enlightenment Emperor Ashoka also built the diamond throne called the Vajrasana. In the 2nd century, the shrine was replaced by the present Mahabodhi Temple. Around 400, the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien recorded that the site contained several statues and monuments.The pilgrimage season starts from the September month but the best time to visit the temple is between the months of November to February when the climate is moderate. The temples are open from 5 am to 9 pm.

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11 Responses to Buddhist Pilgrimage…..Mahabodhi Temple

  1. DS. Utomo says:

    It’s interesting information.I would like to visit Mahabodhi Temple someday. Think it’s similar with Borobudur in Indonesia.

    • ann says:

      if ever you do and need accomodation or pilgrimage organised please contact me.i am scottish visited the mahabodhi temple 6yrs ago fell in love with bodhagaya and within 4days of my return to scoland i had my ticket back.add, karma guest house/project bodhagaya….dmitrasanjay@yahoo.co.in

      • I am very happy to have found this website. I am planning a religious tour for my family in Bodhgaya for the Kalachakra. My dates are 3rd Jan to 12th Jan 2012. Is there anyway you can help me out with 2 rooms that I would for all these days?

        Many thanks,
        Tenzin
        0-9871586141

  2. The heading of your post – Tourist Places – Tourist Places In India – intriqued me, so I came by to check it out. Glad I did. FYI – I also bookmarked this page – http://touristplace.net/tourist-places/buddhist-pilgrimagemahabodhi-temple.html – on Twitter so others can find it too.

  3. Really interesting. I’d like to know more about Budhism

    • ann says:

      why not contact me on dmitrasanjay@yahoo.co.in i am scottish but now live in buddha gaya place of the buddhas enlightenment.i have been there 6yrs am a buddhist have an ma buddhism from magadgh uni , bodhagaya,i havw a guest house from where i organise pilgrimages for people from all over the world maybe i can answer some of your questions……….ann

  4. bodhi tree says:

    bodhi tree…

    […]Tourist Places – Tourist Places In India[…]…

  5. nithi says:

    Thanks for sharing the information.
    Its nice post. The architecture of this temple is unparalleled in North India. The canopy structure of this temple is very different and attractive from temples usually found in North India.

  6. […] Shiv Khori is one of the important cave shrines of Jammu, which is famous for the natural formation of a shivalinga. The 150 metres long shrine is among the most respected cave shrines of Lord Shiva in Jammu.The major highlight of the shrine is the 4 feet svayambhu lingam. The revered figurine constantly baths in a milky lime fluid dripping from the ceiling. There are several natural impressions and images of Hindu deities on the cave walls. The cave consists of two chambers, the outer chamber and the inner chamber. The outer chamber has a capacity to accommodate a large number of people at a time. On the other hand, the inner chamber is small in space.Shiv Khori cave gains special importance during the festival of Mahashivratri. There is a big fair organised near this temple during Mahashivratri. During this time, large number of devotees throng the place so as to see the Shivalingam. In view of the increasing number of pilgrims during the Maha Shivratri Mela, the Shiv Khori Shrine Board has taken up a number of steps to provide more and more facilities to the devotees. The state government administration takes up this task every year to ensure the smooth conduct of the Yatra. The administration keeps a regular check on the langers operating during the festival days for ensuring better eating facilities to the pilgrims and proper security arrangements for the pilgrims coming to take part in Shiv Khori Festival. […]

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