Bodh Gaya in Bihar is a pious pilgrimage site for different religions, but primarily for Buddhists. In fact, tourists from across the world visit this place of high prominence. This tourist spot got its name registered on the world map for being the land where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. Bodh Gaya marks its presence on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites for its magnificent Mahabodhi Temples and tourist destinations like Bodhi Tree, Thai Monastry and Great Buddha Statue that are worth stopping at.
November to February is the best time to visit Bodh Gaya as the weather is moderate during this time. One may explore the place to the fullest during this season because summer can be too hot, humid and harsh on you.
History of Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya is located by the banks of the river, Niranjana. It is believed that King Ashoka of the Mauryan Empire built a temple here in Bodh Gaya in the 3rd century to mark the presence of Gautama Buddha on this land. Many also claim that the name of the state Bihar has also been derived from the Buddhist vocabulary where a monastery was called a ‘Vihara’. From Vihara, the name Bihar came into existence.
Bodh Gaya is known for the popular Gautama Buddha Statue in a meditative state, and a Bodhi Tree beneath which Siddhartha meditated and attained enlightenment. A Mahabodhi temple that was built in the 7th century is another popular tourist attraction in Bodh Gaya. Apart from being a Buddhist pilgrimage site the place also holds special significance for Hindu Devotees.
Gaya is a popular place to perform ‘Pind Daan’ or ‘Shradh’ in the period of Pitru Paksha, a fortnight of remembering your loved ones who have left for the heavenly abode. During this 16-day religious event, rituals are performed by priests, and prayers and food are offered in the memory of the departed souls.
Major Attractions in and Around Bodh Gaya
1. Mahabodhi Temple
Also known as the 'Great Awakening Temple', this Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya is marked as a place that signifies the religious history of Buddhism. It is believed that Buddha was the 9th reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. A sacred Bodhi Tree is present to the left of the temple where Lord Gautam Buddha used to meditate.
2. Great Buddha Statue
It’s the tallest statue of Lord Buddha in India and was inaugurated by the XIV Dalai Lama in 1989. One can explore the meditating Buddha resting on a giant lotus, built up using the intricately carved sandstone and red granite.
3. Bodhi Tree
Sited around 100km towards the South of Patna in the North Indian state of Bihar, this tree is amongst the most famous holy places for Buddhist followers. It is believed that this is the place where Siddhartha got enlightenment. Although this is not the original tree but its the 4th or 5th sapling of the same tree at the same spot. The Bodhi Tree is a famous destination and most frequently visited by tourists. The aura of this tree has been attracting sages, meditators, and yogis since the time of Buddha.
4. Thai Monastery
Famous for its cured roof enclosed with attractive tiles of gold, the Thai Monastery is home to a 25m high bronze statue of Buddha. The place is adorned by a divine calm and surreal views that can rejuvenate your senses and soul.
How to Reach Bodh Gaya
Bodh Gaya is a popular pilgrimage site among Buddhists from across the world. People arrive here to witness the spot where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and many other fascinating sites. You too can arrive here via well-developed roadways, airways, and railways network. By road, the distance to Bodh Gaya from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru is approx. 1,000, 1,700, 480, and 2,000 km respectively.
A visit to Bodh Gaya by road can be a fascinating experience and a journey to remember as it will give you the chance to sneak into the simple village life, en route Bodhgaya. You may either book a seat on the inter-state tourist bus or take a personal car or bike to reach this holy place in Bihar. In order to arrive here by road then the below-mentioned information can be useful for you.
Gaya - 15 km via NH 22
Aurangabad - 75 km via NH 19
Darbhanga - 250 km Patna-Sitamarhi Road
Varanasi - 250 km via NH 19
Gaya Junction is the nearest railway station to the main town and is well-connected by other railway stations belonging to the metro cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. From the railway station, one has to cover a distance of approx. 17km to reach the desired destination in the main town of Bodh Gaya. You can travel via the following direct trains to Gaya.
Delhi - Mahabodhi Express, Purshottam Express, Poorva Express, Kalka Mail
Gaya Airport is the nearest airport to Bodh Gaya which is 11km away from the main town. The airport has a good frequency of flights from Kolkata. Apart from that the airport also receives connecting flights from other metro cities of India Such as Delhi, Lucknow, Pune, Bengaluru, and Mumbai. From the airport, one has to travel another 11km by local transport such as a taxi or a bus to reach the main town.