Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya
The Mahabodhi (Great illumination) Temple is a Buddhist stupa located in Bodhgaya, Bihar India. It is the most holy site in Buddhism and visited frequently by both Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims (Hindus honor the Buddha as an embodiment of Vishnu).
A feeling of tranquility engulfs one as soon as one enters the sacred Mahabodhi Temple complex. The Mahabodhi earlier the temple was 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 largest place of pilgrimage .Here the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree at the age of 35 and came to be known as Buddha, meaning the ‘all knowing one’ and the ‘all compassionate one’. The Maha Bodhi or the Pipal tree is known as the tree of awakening. After attaining enlightenment, Buddha spent seven more weeks in meditation in seven different places around the Bodhi Tree.
In 2002, UNESCO declared the Mahabodhi Temple a World Heritage Site and recommended “the Indian authorities should plan to develop an overall management to safeguard the values of the World Heritage site. This plan should include a provision for regular monitoring of conditions at the site, including the impact that tourism may have on the religious and spiritual significance of the place. ” The Mahabodhi Temple is, as desired by UNESCO ,governing by the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee.
The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, highted 52 mt tall spire and home to a large gilded statue of the Buddha, stands next to the Bodhi Tree. The temple is supposed to be built by the Emperor Ashok, and is decorated with friezes depicting the life of the Buddha. Along the northern wall of the Mahabodhi temple there is a raised walkway known as the Chankramana Chaitya- the `Jewel Path’- where the Buddha meditated as he walked. Adjacent to the temple is a lotus pond the place where the Buddha performed his ablutions. The temple represents the architectural brilliance of the Gupta Kings, who put together their genius and skills to come up with its attractive structure. The architecture speaks its volumes of the artistic caliber of the builders for their amazing structure.
The sacred Bodhi Tree
The sacred Bodhi tree is the shades under which the Siddhartha Gautama meditated and attained Enlightenment on the full Moon day of Vaisakh Purnima (May month). This Peepal tree’s botanical name is Ficus Religiosa. It was under this tree that the Buddha spent the first week in meditation after attaining Enlightenment.
The original tree is destroyed several times by man-made misery and natural calamities.
The present Tree which stands is probably the fifth succession of the original tree.
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 so moderate.