District - Gaya
City / Area - Bodhgaya
Circuit – Buddhist
World Heritage site declared by UNESCO
The most holy site for any Buddhist devotee is the Bodhi tree which stands in the middle of the Mahabodhi temple complex. About 2600 years ago Gautama Siddhartha is supposed to have realised the enlightenment at this very place under a Peepal tree known as Mahabodhi tree. His philosophy, the way to lead human life has evolved as Buddhism. The original Mahabodhi temple is believed to have been built by the emperor Ashoka, after about 250 years of Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana (demise). The present temple had been first restored in 1883, by Sir Alexander Cunningham along with J. D. Beglar and Dr. Rajendralal Mitra to restore Bodh Gaya to its former glory. There is a part of a stone railing surrounding the temple which is the only ancient remains of the past.
Recently a beautiful Meditation Park, a garden space especially designed for meditation with arrangements for suitable seats under the tree shades is built to facilitate the devotees.
There are various spots to commemorate the sacred footsteps of Buddha inside the temple complex
1. Vajrasana: Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
Located under the Mahabodhi Tree, next to the Mahabodhi Temple a platform is built to commemorate the holy incidence where the Buddha is believed to have experienced the ‘Silent State’ before his enlightenment, which showed him the path of Buddhahood.
2. Animesh Lochan Stupa: Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
This place is located at the north-east side of Mahabodhi Temple Complex, where Buddha is said to have spent the ‘2nd week’ after his enlightenment. The meaning of Animesh Lochan is unblinking eyes as the Buddha is believed to have gazed at the Bodhi Tree for seven days without blinking his eyes as he was engrossed in a divine pleasure after the Truth of life unfolded before him. A stupa is built at the spot to commemorate this time.
3. Chankraman Asthal: Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
Located at north-west of Mahabodhi Temple inside the temple complex where it is believed the Buddha spent the ‘3rd week’ after his enlightenment. The Buddha spent the entire week walking around at this holy place.
A stone structure 53’ long, 3.6’ wide, 3’ high with 19 lotus images in the memory of the footprints of Buddha while in walking state has been built.
4. Ratanghar (Ratnagriha): Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
Located near the entrance of the Mahabodhi Temple Complex the Buddha is said to have spent the ‘4th week’ at this place after his enlightenment. The legend tells that during meditation, a holy light of five colours spread in the whole atmosphere which radiated from Buddha’s body. In the memory of this divine state, we now see a statue of the Buddha in meditation posture at this open place.
These colours now reflect on Buddhist Holy Flag also.
5. Azapal Tree: Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
It is located near the entrance of Mahbodhi Temple Complex at the middle of the path that leads to the main temple.
At this place a tree named Azapal stood under which the Buddha is said to have spent the ‘5th week’ after his enlightenment.. This divine state is explained in inscription of Burma (Earlier name of Myanmar) on a ‘white stone plate’ situated here. Buddha spent the entire week meditating.
6. Muchalind Tank: Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
Situated at the south of Mahabodhi Temple as the legend goes that the Buddha spent here the ‘6th week’ after his enlightenment in a sitting posture. The mythical tale says that a snake king named Muchalind living in this tank saved the Buddha during meditation from heavy storm and rain sent by the ‘dark forces’ to distract him from his divine path.
7. Rajayatan: Inside Mahabodhi Temple complex in Bodhgaya
Located at the south side of the Mahbodhi Temple Complex here Buddha spent the ‘7th and last Week’ after his enlightenment at this place. In this week he decided to work for mankind. Two businessmen of Utkal Tapassu and Bhallik, who were passing by this place, became his first disciples. After this fist teaching, Buddha started travelling towards Sarnath.
It is said that in ancient period, here there have been a Rajat (Silver) Tree, a rare plant. Seventy years back, a plant of the same species was brought from Burma (present Myanmar) and been planted here in the memory of that week, which have shown the mankind - the path of peace and non-violence.