An epitome of Buddhist divinity, Mahabodhi temple seizes the hearts of visitors. Mahabodhi Temple Complex is an icon of tranquillity and is one of the most prominent Buddhist Pilgrimage sites that is situated in Bodhgaya, Bihar. Typically, the Mahabodhi temple completes the list of four holy sites dedicated to the Buddha's life, therefore, the divine temple is the perfect place to take you to the enlightenment era of the Lord Buddha. This antique icon can endow you with a serene space where you can meditate anytime between dawn to dusk.
Best time to visit this Buddhist pilgrimage site in India is November and February when the weather is amiable. September to January are the peak months and one can avoid the time from June to September due to heavy rainfall in the region. There is no entry fee to visit the temple, however, if one has to carry a camera then the charge is 100 INR and for videography, it is 300 INR. No mobile phones are allowed inside the temple.
With the recognition of being a UNESCO site, Mahabodhi Mahavihara is a revered Buddhist pilgrimage site across the globe. The pages of history tell that Siddhartha, also known as Gautam Buddha keenly observed the whole world and its sufferings. He wanted to find a way with which he could end these suffering and attain salvation. Then, he scraped the forests around the banks of the Phalgu river that lies in the vicinity of Gaya city. He sat under a tree and after meditating for almost a week, he got enlightenment and thereafter the tree became famous as the divine Bodhi tree. Later in about 260 BCE, the Great Emperor Ashoka built a temple to the east of the Bodhi tree and it is believed that this spot signifies the navel of the Earth.
Mahabodhi temple architecture is spellbinding. There is a diamond throne built by Ashoka at the feet of the Bodhi tree which is popular as Vajrasana and people worship this place even today. Around the throne, there are sandstone columns with a pot-shaped base. The architecture also includes carved panels and medallions along with the extension of railings done with granite. Embellished with foliate ornaments, a plethora of small figures and the stupas, Mahabodhi temple displays the best architecture of ancient times.
Apart from the major attraction that is Mahabodhi Temple itself, there lies a plethora of exciting places that can add fun to your trip. The list of such fascinating places to visit near Mahabodhi temple are as follows.
1. Great Buddha Statue. If you are allured by the beauty of Buddha, the Great Buddha Statue is one of the best places to visit in Bodhgaya. With installation in 1989, XIV Dalai Lama endowed the Buddhist devotees with a meditating posture of Buddha resting on a giant lotus. The serenity of this place makes every visitor speechless. The carving of red granite and sandstone adds to the charm. It is one of the most visited places that is in close proximity to the temple.
2. Royal Bhutan Monastery. Among the Bodhgaya tourist places, Royal Bhutan Monastery is an alluring establishment made by the King of Bhutan. You can visit this peaceful monastery between 7 am to 7 pm any day of a week. Along with its unique architecture, you can also get the benefit of profound teachings of the Lord Buddha that are preached by the Buddhist monks. There is a temple inside the monastery that displays a 7-feet tall statue of Buddha which makes the place truly fascinating for those who wish to meditate.
3. Nippon Japanese Temple. In the year of 1972, the Japanese government intervened in the establishment of this Nippon Japanese temple. This Monastery is not only known for its world-class wooden Japanese architecture, but the mind-blowing paintings of the building also make it worth a visit. The paintings define the life journey of Buddha and there is an idol of the revered Buddhist Lord. Though peace comes from inside, yet the sight of this serene place along with Mahabodhi temple can surely endow you with some peace.
4. Sujata Kuti. Known for its excellent brick-work, Sujata Kuti lies at a distance of nearly 8 kilometers from Bodhgaya city. The history of Buddha's life depicts that when Buddha was on the way to get enlightenment, he had relinquished all the pleasures of the world. After a long starving period, there was a lady named Sujata who offered kheer to Lord Buddha. There is a belief that it was the first food that Buddha ate after meditating for 6 long years. The Kuti or temple lies on the banks of Phalgu river and is dedicated to the tribal woman, Sujata.
4. Thai Monastery. With its establishment in the year of 1957, the Thai Monastery became a way to propagate Buddhist philosophies amongst the community of the monks as well as the government of Thailand. The sloping, curved roofs and shimmering golden tiles of the building set an epitome of beauty. Right from the architecture to the rituals and customs that are followed represents the colours of Thai culture. Beautiful carvings on the magnanimous brown statue of Lord Buddha adds more charm to the place.
5. Bodhi Tree. The Bodhi tree takes the credit of success of Bodhgaya tourism as Gautam Buddha got the enlightenment under this blissful tree. The aura of this tree enthralls the hearts of yogis as well as meditators. Not merely Buddha, but the great spiritual leaders including Vimalamitra, Nagarjuna, Padmasambhava, and Buddhajnana have also meditated under this 80-feet tall tree. This site is amongst the most visited places in Bodhgaya.
All these above mentioned fascinating places offer free-of-cost visits, therefore, tourists can save a lot of bucks even after a great travel journey.
When it comes to reaching Mahabodhi temple, we cannot ignore the Mahabodhi temple timings at all as these make it necessary for us to reach the temple on time. The temple is nearly 1840 km away from Chennai and 1101 km from Delhi via NH6 and Agra-Lucknow Express Highway respectively. The distance from Kolkata, Mumbai, and Bengaluru to Mahabodhi temple is about 473 km, 1745 km, and 2089 km respectively. You can abide by the following guide to reach this destination in India at your convenience.
By Air. When it comes to land on the holy ground of Mahabodhi Temple Bodhgaya, it becomes quite essential to know that the closest airport here is Gaya International Airport. It lies at a distance of 10.6 kilometres from the Mahabodhi Temple when we choose the path via NH22 and Domuhan-Bodhgaya road.
By Train. In the proximity of the temple, there is a Gaya Junction on the Grand Chord Section of the Eastern Central Railways. Travelling from the railway station to the temple merely takes 20 minutes as the distance is 20 kilometres between both the places.
By Road. Now comes the last way to reach Mahabodhi temple through public transport that is by road. When you choose this way, you get Gaya Bus Stand at Shastri Nagar Jail Press Road No.3 East location. The Pincode for the address is 823001 and you can reach the temple via NH22 and Gaya - Bodhgaya Road in 31 minutes only. Covering this distance of 15.8 kilometres can surely amplify your eagerness to reach the place and witness the beauty.