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Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya
Location of Bodh Gaya
in Bihar and India
Coordinates 24°41′42″N 84°59′29″E / 24.695102°N 84.991275°E / 24.695102; 84.991275
Country  India
State Bihar
District(s) Gaya
Population 30883 (2001)
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)

Bodh Gaya or Bodhgaya (Hindi: बोधगया) is a religious place in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous for being the place of Gautama Buddha's attainment of nirvana (Enlightenment).

Historically, it was known as the Bodhimanda (ground around the Bodhi-tree), Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and Mahabodhi.[1] The name Bodh Gaya did not come into use until the 18th century. The main monastery of Bodhgaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vihāra (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple.

For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.[2]

The surrounding town, by contrast, is dusty, noisy and somewhat polluted, due in large part to the large numbers of pilgrims and tourists who visit there.[3] A new development plan has been proposed to "ensure a sustainable and prosperous future" for Bodh Gaya, but has become controversial because such a plan may require the relocation of whole neighborhoods.[4]

Contents

History

A small temple beneath the Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya, built in 7th century, after the original built by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC, ca. 1810[5]
Pilgrimage to
Buddha's
Holy Sites
Dharma Wheel.svg
The Four Main Sites
Lumbini · Bodh Gaya
Sarnath · Kushinagar
Four Additional Sites
Sravasti · Rajgir
Sankissa · Vaishali
Other Sites
Patna · Gaya · Kosambi
Kapilavastu · Devadaha
Kesariya · Pava
Nalanda · Varanasi
Later Sites
Sanchi · Mathura
Ellora · Ajanta · Vikramshila
Ratnagiri · Udayagiri
Bharhut · Barabar Caves
Offerings found in Bodh Gaya under the "Enlightenment Throne of the Buddha", with a decorated coin of the Kushan emperor Huvishka, 3rd century CE.

According to Buddhist traditions, circa 500 BC Prince Gautama Siddhartha, wandering as an ascetic, reached the sylvan banks of Falgu River, near the city of Gaya. There he sat in meditation under a bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa). After three days and three nights of meditation, Siddharta attained enlightenment and insight, and the answers that he had sought. He then spent seven weeks at seven different spots in the vicinity meditating and considering his experience. After seven weeks, he travelled to Sarnath, where he began teaching Buddhism.

Disciples of Gautama Siddhartha began to visit the place where he had gained enlightenment during the full moon in the month of Vaisakh (April-May), as per the Hindu calendar. Over time, the place became known as Bodh Gaya, the day of enlightenment as Buddha Purnima, and the tree as the Bodhi Tree.

The history of Bodh Gaya is documented by many inscriptions and pilgrimage accounts. Foremost among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the 5th century and Xuanzang in the 7th century. The area was at the heart of a Buddhist civilization for centuries, until it was conquered by Turkish armies in the 13th

Mahabodhi Temple

The complex, located about 96 kilometres from Patna, at 24°41′43″N 84°59′38″E / 24.69528°N 84.99389°E / 24.69528; 84.99389,[6] contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana) and the holy Bodhi tree. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grown from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree.

It is believed that 250 years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Emperor Asoka visited Bodh Gaya. He is considered to be the founder of the original Mahabodhi temple. It consisted of an elongated spire crowned by a miniature stupa and a chhatravali on a platform. A double flight of steps led up to the platform and the upper sanctum. The mouldings on the spire contained Buddha images in niches. Some historians believe that the temple was constructed or renovated in the 1st century during the Kushan period. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and forgotten, buried under layers of soil and sand.

The temple was later restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham as part of his work for the British Archaeological Society in the late 19th century. In 1883, Cunningham along with J. D. Beglar and Dr Rajendralal Miitra painstakingly excavated the site. Extensive renovation work was carried out to restore Bodh Gaya to its former glory.

Other Buddhist temples

Kittisirimegha of Sri Lanka, a contemporary of Samudragupta, erected with the permission of Samudragupta, a Sanghārāma near the Mahābodhi-vihāra, chiefly for the use of the Singhalese monks who went to worship the Bodhi tree. The circumstances in connection with the Sanghārāma are given by Hiouen Thsang (Beal, op. cit., 133ff) who gives a description of it as seen by himself. It was probably here that Buddhaghosa met the Elder Revata who persuaded him to come to Ceylon.

Presently, several Buddhist temples and monasteries have been built by the people of Bhutan, China, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam in a wide area around the temple. These buildings reflect the architectural style, exterior and interior decoration of their respective countries. The statue of Buddha in the Chinese Temple is 200 years old and was brought from China. Japan's Nippon Temple is shaped like a pagoda. The Myanmar (Burmese) Temple is also pagoda shaped and is reminiscent of Bagan. The Thai Temple has a typical sloping, curved roof covered with golden tiles. Inside, the temple holds a massive and spectacular bronze statue of Buddha. Next to the Thai temple there is a recent 25 meter statue of Buddha [7]located within a garden which has existed there for over 100 years. For Tibetan buddhism there are two temples.

Demographics

As of 2001 India census,[8] Bodh Gaya had a population of 30,883. Males constitute 54% of the population and females 46%. Bodh Gaya has an average literacy rate of 51%, lower than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 63% and female literacy of 38%. 18% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Transportation

Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (Bihar Tourism) provides travel facility from state capital Patna to visit Bodh circuit (Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Kesaria, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Sarnath), Jain Circuit (Rajgir, Pawapuri) and Sikh Circuit in Bihar.

Airport

5 kilometres from Bodhgaya is the Gaya Airport, also known as Bodhgaya Airport.

Notes

  1. ^ A History of Bodh Gaya by Venerable S. Dhammika [1]
  2. ^ "Decisions adopted by the 26th Session of the World Heritage Committee" (PDF). World Heritage Committee. pp. 62. http://whc.unesco.org/archive/2002/whc-02-conf202-25e.pdf#decision.23.15. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  3. ^ "Austin Pick: Aboard the Mahabodhi Express". http://www.fudomouth.net/intertext/ap_subcontinent05.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  4. ^ "Memorandum: Regarding Bodhgaya" (PDF). http://www.bodhgayanews.net/pdf/BodhgayaMemorandum.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-28. 
  5. ^ Bodhi Tree British Library.
  6. ^ "Information Dossier for nomination of Mahabodhi Temple Complex, Bodhgaya as a World Heritage Site" (PDF). Government of India. pp. 4. http://whc.unesco.org/p_dynamic/sites/passfile.cfm?filename=1056rev&filetype=pdf&category=nominations. Retrieved 2006-07-10. 
  7. ^ Buddha statue
  8. ^ "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20040616075334/http://www.censusindia.net/results/town.php?stad=A&state5=999. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 

See also

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : India : Plains : Bihar : Bodh Gaya
The Mahabodhi Temple
The Mahabodhi Temple

Bodh Gaya [1] is a village in the state of Bihar. As the site of the Buddha Shakyamuni's enlightenment, Bodh Gaya is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites. The main complex houses the famous Mahabodhi temple/stupa and a descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport is at Gaya (16 km) - Druk Air flies from Bangkok once a week. Thai Airways flies to Gaya daily. Indian Airlines flies from Kolkata on Fridays at 10.00 a.m. and Returns back on Mondays from Gaya at around 15.00 hrs.

By train

The nearest Railway station is Gaya (16 km). From there you can take a bus or a three wheel taxi to Bodh Gaya. Three-wheel taxi price is extremely variable, depending on time of day, but should be between 80-120 Rs. You should bargain considerably, there is rarely a shortage of service.

The train from Patna (which as the nearest good size airport and railhead) to Gaya costs 34 rupees (as of January 2008). The express trains take about two hours. Best train travel from Calcutta is about 8 hours; from Delhi, about 15 hours.

The road from Patna is in condition at the moment, train is also recommended.

By bus

There is a main road connecting Bodhgaya and Gaya. The Bihar State Tourist Development Coporation (Tel: 0612-225411) runs daily deluxe bus services to and from Bodh Gaya.

80-foot Buddha Statue
80-foot Buddha Statue

Most temples open from 6 am to sunset and close between noon and 2 pm.

  • Bodhi Tree - it is believed that this tree is a direct descendant of the one under which the Buddha Sakyamuni attained enlightenment, inside the Mahabodhi complex.
  • Mahabodhi Stupa
  • Thai Monastery, [2]
  • 80-foot Buddha Statue
  • Japanese temple (Indosan Nippon), Temple Road, 2200743. 5am-6pm.  edit Daily meditation at 6 AM and 5 PM.
  • Archaelogical Museum, [3], closed Fridays, IR 2 (foreigners and locals alike)
  • Tergar Monastery, [4], Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Phowa Center, [5], Choeje Ayang Rinpoche
  • Gendhen Phelgyeling Monastery [6]
  • Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery, [7], Beru Khyentse Rinpoche
  • Root Institute, [8], Zopa Rinpoche
  • Kagyu Monlam Chenmo, [9], prayer festival, January
  • Nyingma Monlam Chenmo, [10], prayer festival, January/February

Do

Bodh Gaya is essentially a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and all of its main attractions are related to this. The subsidiary tourist industry that has grown up around it (shopping, eating, and accommdation) is not really the main attraction. Most of the goods for sale in Bodh Gaya come from elsewhere in India and can be found for better prices and at better quality elsewhere. Perhaps unique to Bodh Gaya are the rather cheesy CDs for sale near the temple entrance that purport to be monks chanting Buddhist texts. You will know whether you want to take this home with you!

Whether you're a Buddhist or not, the main thing to do in Bodh Gaya is just to absorb the vibe of the place where the Buddha attained awakening: the vapor trail of that energy is still in the air!

  • Cafe Om. Excellent pastries, great food too. This is the place where everybody meets everybody.  edit

Drink

Bodhgaya may have been a "dry" town, without liquor outlets. Hotels and guesthouses will in their restaurants serve beer (100-150 IR), provided it is drunk indoors out of public view. However in 2009 there are government liquor stores selling Wine ($10 usd / liter) and Rum, Whiskey etc. approx same price as the wine. Beer is 60 Rs/can.

Sleep

Monastery guest houses offer a cheap option to hotels, though guests are expected to adhere to their house rules. They do not charge fixed nightly rates, but instead accept donations (ask other guests for the going rate).

  • Mahabodhi Society. Private rooms and dorms available.  edit
  • Bhutan Monastery. Pleasant but basic single and family rooms, some with private bathroom  edit
  • Burmese Vihara, Gaya Road. Very basic accommodation. The Vihara exists mainly to cater to groups of Burmese pilgrims, but there are often rooms available for others. Rules are posted prominently. Food service is only for those arriving in groups, and by prior arrangement.  edit
  • Siddhartha Vihar, Bihar Tourist Complex, ''+91 631'' 220-0445. Simple, but comfortable rooms.  edit
  • Rainbow Guesthouse, next to Burmese Vihara on Gaya Road. Basic rooms, are cleaned more thoroughly on request, friendly and reliable staff.  edit

Additionally there is a whole string of guesthouses just opposite the park from the Mahabodhi Temple. All pretty much the same well maintained with restaurants on the ground floor at around Rs 200 a single.

  • Royal Residency, Domuhan Road, ''+91 631'' 220-0124 (fax: ''+91 631'' 220-0181). Comfortable rooms with Japanese style same-sex communal hot tub.  edit

Contact

Internet

Most, maybe all internet cafes in town refuse to let you connect anything to the computer such a a camera or thumb drive, and they refuse to let you upload or download photos.

"Eyes Of Compassion" Cyber Cafe (EOC) on Bodhgaya Road appears to be the only cafe in town that lets you use skype or upload photos however you have to pay rs. 5 per photo uploaded or rs. 5 per minute that you use skype. The internet is quite slow all over town. Near Om Restaurant, downstairs.

  • Take off your shoes before entering the inner parts of the main temple/stupa complex.
  • Circumambulate the stupa and other sacred objects in a clock-wise direction.
  • Preserve the peace and tranquility.
  • Do not climb onto statues or other sacred objects.
  • Rajgir – The site of Gridhakuta (Vulture's Peak), where the Buddha stayed and gave teachings on the Mahayana (the second turning of the wheel), and Venuvana, the first Buddhist monastery. Rajgir is also an area known for its hot springs, which are open to the public. Buses depart from Bodhgaya, but often require a change in Bihar Sharif.
  • Nalanda – This Buddhist university was established in 450CE. Currently, there are extensive ruins, but no inhabitants. Nalanda Museum is open 10AM-5PM daily except Friday. Shared jeeps plying the route between Rajgir and Bihar Sharif make a stop at the turnoff for Nalanda. Rickshaws and other vehicles are available from there to the main gate, a distance of 2km. PWD operates a guest house near the gate.
  • Deo – Visit this place for a glimpse of Famous Sun Temple.
  • Patna - 130 km by Road, Deluxe Buses for Patna Available from BSTDC(Enquiry Phone No. 0631-2200672) Bodhgaya Hotel (7am & 2pm daily), you can also go By Train from Gaya Junction.
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