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Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya (Bihar) -Timings, Accommodations, Route

The Mahabodhi Temple located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar is one of the oldest surviving temples in India. The Mahabodhi Temple was built by Emperor Asoka. The word ‘Mahabodhi’ means ‘The Great Awakening’ and refers to Lord Buddha’s enlightenment or awakening.  

History of Mahabodhi Temple Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple is the place where Lord Buddha sat down to meditate under the Bodhi tree after declaring that he would get up until enlightenment comes. The tree under which he sat is a Fig (Peepal) tree and a descendant of the original tree exists in the temple today. The Great Buddha Statue measuring 80 feet was unveiled in 1989 by the Dalai Lama. It is situated next to the Mahabodhi temple.

How Prince Siddharta became Gautam Buddha?

Prince Gautam Siddharta renounced the privileges and luxuries of a royal life after he saw the suffering of people. In his quest for enlightenment, he reached the banks of the Falgu River near Gaya and sat under a tree, and began penance and meditation. It is said that four weeks after Lord Buddha started meditation, it rained furiously for seven days and nights. At this time Muchalinda – the King of Serpents appeared and protected Lord Buddha with his giant hood. After Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment he was known as The Great Buddha.

Mahabodhi Temple Architecture

Lord Buddha achieved enlightenment about 2500 years ago. The original and first temple was built by Ashoka the Great in about 250 BCE. He visited Bodh Gaya and established a temple and a monastery. These structures have all but disappeared. Only a few signs of this construction can be found. One notable artifact that remains is the Diamond Throne – at the foot of the Bodhi Tree is a large stone slab and an object of worship.

In later years in the 1st century CE, the Kings of the Sunga Dynasty were added to the temple. What is seen today was built in the 5th or 6th centuries CE during the reign of the Guptas. The railings around the temple are among the most ancient structures remaining. These sandstone pillars and posts date back to about 150 CE.

The temple is a pyramidal structure built in the 5th or 6th century CE, but maybe restoration of work done in the 2nd or 3rd centuries CE. The present temple has two Shikharas – one is about 180 feet tall and the other is a little shorter. Both Shikharas is topped by a stupa. The entire temple complex was earlier enclosed by stone railings. Most of the original railing pillars are in museums now.

The temple has been renovated and restored by various Buddhist Kings including Burmese rulers. In about 1880 the temple sanctum was extensively renovated and the sculptures were repaired, painted, and gilded. A Gilded Murti of Lord Buddha seated in Vajrasana can be seen in the sanctum.

Replicas of the Mahabodhi Temple in other countries

Mahabodhi Temple has been replicated by Buddhist devotees. In Beijing (China) there is the Zenjhue Temple. Myanmar has its replica named Mahabodhi Temple in Bagan. Another in Myanmar is known as Thatta Thattaha Maha Bawdi Pagoda. Thailand has two replicas known as Wat Chet Yot in Chiang Mai and Wat Yansangwararam in Chonburi province.

Mahabodhi Temple Timings

Mahabodhi Temple opens in the morning at 05:00 AM

Mahabodhi Temple closes in the morning at 09:00 AM

Mahabodhi Temple Puja Timings

Sutta Chanting and meditation 05:30 AM to 06:00 AM
The offering of Kheer (Prasad) 10:00 AM
Sutta Chanting (Pali) 06:00 PM to 06:30 PM

Accommodations near Mahabodhi Temple

There are various options available for a stay in Gaya near Mahabodhi Temple. Here is a list of accommodations in Gaya.

How to reach Mahabodhi Temple?

By Rail-

Gaya Junction 13 km (from bodh gaya)
Paraiya 29.6  km
Kastha 21.7 km
Guraru 35 km
gaya west cabin 16.5 km

By Road-

Patna 60 km

Buses from Varanasi, Nalanda, Rajgir, and Kathmandu also reach Bodh Gaya.

By Air-

Gaya International Airport 10.6 km

Mahabodhi Temple is open or not?

Note

(As of now the temple is not open for visitors. It may open on the 25th of August 2021. Visitors are advised to confirm on the temple’s official website –  https://bodhgayatemple.com/ )

 

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