The rich culture and heritage of Bihar are known to have numerous historical monuments, famous pilgrimage sites and scenic beauty. The state is considered to be one of the sacred places of various religions. Despite the rich heritage and culture of the state, it has remained an underrated tourist spot in India. The state is dotted with various spectacular places which are both religious and serene. There are many destinations to be explored including Rajgir, Bodhgaya, Nalanda and others.
Bodhgaya, in Gaya district of Bihar is the holiest place for Buddhists because Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment at this place. Later, disciples of Gautama Siddharta begun visiting the place and over time the place came to be known as Bodhgaya. The day of Buddha’s enlightenment came to be known as Buddha Purnima and the tree under which he meditated as the Bodhi Tree. This place has been an attractive destination for tourists all across the world. There are various spectacular places to visit in Bodhgaya.
Here’s a list of 25 places that every gallivanter will wish to explore in this religious yet adventurous tourist spot.
1. MAHABODHI TEMPLE
A UNESCO world heritage site, this temple is considered to be the holiest place in Gaya for Buddhists and Hindus as this was the religious ground where under the Bodhi Tree, Buddha attained Enlightenment. It is a major pilgrimage destination for over two thousand years. It is the top attraction of Bodhgaya and holds great religious significance. The whole area is very serene, and one can experience optimum peace in the surrounding. People from all over the world visit the place in search of peace over the chaos of everyday life.
2. BODHI TREE
This 135 years old, Peepal tree attracts a huge audience as it is the tree under which Prince Siddhartha meditated for seven long weeks and attained enlightenment. This tree holds great historical importance in the life of Buddha. One can sit under the tree for hours as the whole atmosphere is immensely peaceful.
3. GREAT BUDDHA STATUE
This 25-meter sculpture of Lord Buddha is possibly the tallest statue of Buddha in meditation pose built in the history of India and was installed by the XIV Dalai Lama in 1989. It depicts a meditating Buddha resting on a giant lotus, constructed using intricately carved sandstone and red granite. It is the symbol of the holy place, Bodhgaya and is situated just next to the Mahabodhi Temple.
4. KARMA TEMPLE
Karma Temple is another beautiful temple of Lord Buddha which provides the possibility of spending a night in the temple. Interior of the temple is completely covered with paintings which is spectacular and feast to the eyes. Paintings depict some important aspects of Buddha’s life. It is a peaceful place for worshiping.
4. THAI MONASTERY
It is the only Thai temple in the nation located in Bodhgaya, Bihar. It is well known for its curved roof covered with exquisite tiles of gold. Also, the monastery houses a bronze statue of Buddha and another recently erected 25m high statue in the garden. There are several meditation centres functioning for visitors to relax.
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5. MUCHALINDA LAKE
The Muchalinda Lake also known as Lotus Pond is located to the right of Mahabodhi Temple. It is associated with a mythological tale stating that Lord Buddha was protected from the storm by Snake King Muchalinda. A statue of Buddha sitting on snake foil, which depicts the historic tale, is placed at the centre of the lake. The statue is the most salient feature of the lake which attracts tourists. The water of the pond is considered sacred and has thousands of fish who are fed with puffed rice by the visitors.
6. ROYAL BHUTAN MONASTERY
It is one of the magnificent monasteries in Bodhgaya. It was built by the King of Bhutan as a tribute to Lord Buddha. The monastery features the life of Lord Buddha in clay carvings which attracts millions of Buddhist followers from across the world. The monastery, decorated and carved with ornamental architectural style, hosts a magnificent temple along with a rest house for the visitors. The monks conduct discourse on Buddha and his teachings, guide individual and group meditation, also organise peace prayers.
7. BRAHMAYONI TEMPLE
Brahmayoni Temple is one of the major attractions of the destination. The temple is located on the highest peak of Bodhgaya. Devotees who wish to visit this temple must go through a gruelling climb 424 high stone steps to reach the top of the hill, top of which lies the temple. Climbing atop the hill provides a great panoramic view of the nearby area. This is a religious yet adventurous spot. It was constructed by a Maratha-chieftain, Rao Bhau Saheb, in the bygone era.
It is one of the most sacred shrines of Bodhgaya and is a part of the Mahabodhi Temple. It is considered to be the spot where Buddha in his third week of meditation practised walking meditation, and thus it came to be known as Cankamana. The spot denotes the footsteps of Buddha carved out as lotuses in Black stone. It is a must see when one visits Mahabodhi Temple. Thousands of monks visit the spot and chant in praise of Buddha, which creates a surreal and soothing atmosphere.
9. CHINESE TEMPLE
Chinese Temple houses a 200-year old Buddha statue, displays Chinese architectural styles and has been decorated with Chinese designs all over. The temple boasts of three beautiful golden statues of Lord Buddha that are primary attractions of this place. The temple is a stunning piece of architecture built by Chinese monks in collaboration with the government of China in 1945. Buddha Jayanti, one of the most important festivals of Buddhists, is celebrated here every year to commemorate the birth of Lord Buddha. Thousands of monks and followers of Buddha from across the globe come here to take part in the holy celebration.
10. INDOSAN NIPPON JAPANESE TEMPLE
The temple, built by the Japanese, provides a glimpse of the Japanese architecture. The structure of the temple is carved out of wood and it looks like a Japanese shrine. It also showcases a lot of Japanese paintings narrating events from the life of Gautam Buddha. It is a pretty tranquil place to relax and rejuvenate. The tourists are attracted to its architectural excellence.
11. VIETNAMESE TEMPLE
Vietnamese Temple is the most recently constructed shrine in the area and features a serene looking statue of Buddha which exudes a calming aura and appears to be smiling. It was funded and erected by the Vietnam government to promote Buddhism in 2000. Also, the sprawling garden that surrounds the shrine is just to see when one is around the temple.
12. KUNDAN BAZAAR
After roaming in the streets of Bodhgaya, you need a place to get your shopping bag filled with some unique antiques of the place. So we take you to the Kundan Bazaar which is an ideal place for souvenirs, books and other handicraft items of the region. This is the place for all shopping lovers and where one can get products of local significance. Also, several guest house and hotels are available here.
13. JAMA MASJID
Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in Bihar and is considered to be located in the heart of Gaya. It has a history of around 200 years ago. The mosque was built by a royal family of Muzaffarpur. The shrine is well known for its festival Shabina, which is a special prayer service offered on the 27th night of Ramadan.
14. DUNGESHWARI HILLS
These are the hills where Lord Buddha spent a few years before travelling to Bodh Gaya in search of enlightenment. The hills are mostly known for the caves that Gautam Buddha used for shelter and meditation. These caves have several auspicious temples and stupas. When one needs a break from cities, visiting these hills is a great choice. The entire drive is very pleasant and serene.
15. ROOT INSTITUTE FOR WISDOM CULTURE
As is obvious from the name, it is a centre that educates and promotes wisdom culture through programmes and social services. It follows the Tibetan tradition. Basically, it provides a peaceful place for people to meditate, study or retreat. It is a perfect place to learn more about Buddhist philosophy and lord Siddhartha’s journey. One can make pre-bookings for their stay in the centre online.
16. BURMESE VIHARA MONASTERY
Burmese Vihara Monastery is another spectacular monastery in Bodhgaya, built according to Burmese architecture. It is a spiritual retreat for those who wish to take a break from their stressful life routine. Located amidst beautiful gardens, the tranquil monastery houses a Buddha Meditation Hall, a library with a large collection of books on the teachings of Lord Buddha and a guest house for the visitors to relax.
17. SUJATHA TEMPLE / SUJATHA KUTI
Sujatha Temple is a small temple but a major old attraction of the region which marks a historical incident in the life of Buddha. According to historical texts, the temple is dedicated to a humble tribal woman named Sujatha who offered pudding to Gautam Buddha. It is said that the pudding was the first meal which Gautam Buddha had consumed after years of starvation ever since he renounced the materialistic life including food to attain enlightenment. The temple is considered to be religiously important as the offering is believed to have saved Lord Buddha’s life.
18. ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY OF INDIA MUSEUM
Bodhgaya has many places to offer and one of them is, Archaeological Society of India Museum. It is established to display ancient articles belonging to the Brahmanical and Buddhist belief, mostly related to the Pala period. Exhibits of splendid stone and bronze statues and sculptures, panels, rods, plaques, pillars, railings, etc are found in the galleries, courtyard and the veranda of the museum that is located inside the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. The highlight of the museum is a picture which shows the image of the site before and after renovation. The museum includes many relics which gives the visitors a gist of history of the region.
19. METTA BUDDHARAM TEMPLE
Metta Buddharam Temple is a marvelous piece of art which is newly established. It is a beautiful Buddhist Temple away from the clusters of other temples and monasteries. Tourist gets mesmerized by the excellent architecture and Lord Buddha statue. The wind chimes and bells hanging all around the premises adds to the aura of the place. This temple is said to be a haven of peace and serenity.
20. BODHGAYA MULTIMEDIA MUSEUM
Bodhgaya Multimedia Museum was established to provide a glimpse of the historical life of Gautam Buddha in the most interesting way possible. The museum covers Buddha’s journey right from his childhood until he attained Nirvana. Buddha’s life story is shown through a 3D animation movie and the rest of the sections show 10-minute audio-visual films. One can watch the significant traces from Buddha’s life in a more informative manner which is a visual format.
21. AJAPAL NIRGODHA TREE
This is a sacred location where Gautam Buddha completed his fifth week of meditation after attaining enlightenment and held a discourse to address and answer the queries locals had about religion, humanity and equality. Now marked with a pillar, the place still is considered religiously important and is visited by believers. There are many followers who sit around and chant continuously.
22. DAIJOKYO BUDDHIST TEMPLE
Daijokyo Buddhist Temple is a tranquil respite for those seeking one amidst beautiful surroundings. This temple is quiet and peaceful and has enough place to sit and meditate. The most prominent feature of the temple is the 64 foot tall Great Buddha Statue made of sandstone and granite. Everyone is welcomed here, regardless of nationality and religion.
23. ANIMESH LOCHANA CHAITANYA SHRINE
Animesh Lochan Chaitya Shrine holds another historical event in Lord Buddha’s life. Here, he spent his second week of meditation after attaining Nirvana. It is believed that his meditation involved gazing at the Bodhi Tree continuously without blinking. The place, therefore, was named Animesh Lochan which means –Open Eyes and is considered important as it teaches self-control and focuses.
24. TIBETIAN REFUGEE MARKET
After visiting several temples, if one wants to take a break from religious sites and want to spend some time shopping, Refugee market is the place. This market is said to be a paradise for shopping lovers. It offers a large variety of winter-wears, handicrafts and souvenirs, etc.
25. MAHABODHI TEMPLE COMPLEX BOOK CENTRE
This book store offers a wide range of collection of Buddhist books, books on Buddhist culture and history of Mahabodhi Temple. Explorers who want to know more about the Buddhist culture and Bodhgaya would love to be here.
Bodhgaya is essentially a pilgrimage destination of various temples, monastery, libraries with a blend of cultures from many other nations with Buddhist traditions such as Thailand, Tibet and Japan. Whether one is a Buddhist or not, the main thing to do in Bodhgaya is just to absorb the vibe of the place where Buddha attained awakening. The atmosphere is considered to still have the trail of that energy. PatnaBeats is looking forward to all those readers who took back a good tourist guide through this article should visit and make their friends visit such a holy place of Bihar.
Quote of the day: "A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots."-Marcus Garvey