Stationed on the bank of river Neranjana (also referred as Falgu) in the Indian state of Bihar, Bodh Gaya is the most venerated place for Buddhists throughout the world.
A trip to this place offers a unique opportunity to gain valuable insights into Buddhist culture and their way of living.
Famous for the magnificent Mahabodhi temple and Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya also showcases notable monasteries from many countries such as Thailand, Bhutan, Japan and China.
Historically it has been known by various names – Uruvela, Sambodhi, Mahabodhi. Here is a rundown of the 8 major attractions of Bodh Gaya for a day-long trip.
A Quick Glance Through
- Bodh Gaya Attractions
- How To Reach Bodh Gaya
- Where To Stay
- Best Time to Visit
- 9 am: Start from Mahabodhi Temple complex. You can easily spend 2-2.5 hours exploring important spots and admiring the life of the great soul.
- 11 am: Visit Chinese temple located opposite to Mahabodhi Temple complex.
- 12 pm – 2 pm: Most of the monasteries and temples are closed for 2 hours during noon. Try local dishes and traditional food for lunch.
- 2 pm: Visit Thai monastery which is a few steps away from Mahabodhi temple.
- 2:30 pm: Next, you can visit 80 ft long Great Buddha statue, one of the remarkable attractions of Bodh Gaya.
- 3:30 pm – 5 pm: Visit Royal Bhutan Monastery and Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple. Both are located at walking distance from each other.
Bodh Gaya Attractions
1. Mahabodhi Temple
This is the site where the Shakyas (clan) prince Siddharth Gautam attained enlightenment to become Buddha, also called Shakyamuni Buddha.
Mahabodhi temple was first built by the Mauryan dynasty king Ashoka, a staunch follower of Buddhism to mark the spot of the Buddha’s enlightenment (Bodhi). UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in the year 2002.
It is believed that after gaining enlightenment Buddha spent seven weeks meditating at various spots in this place where the temple has been built.
The temple gracefully stands 180 feet high with four towers in the corners and a chatra (an auspicious symbol in hinduism and buddhism) on the top of the temple.
Mahabodhi temple complex is open from 5 am to 9 pm on all days for visitors and devotees.
Carrying mobile phones or any kind of electronic gadget inside the temple premises is not allowed. Those interested in clicking pictures can use photo camera or video camera by paying a small fee.
2. Bodhi Tree
Standing next to the Mahabodhi temple is a descendant of the sacred Bodhi tree under which Gautam Buddha sat when he gained enlightenment.
After gaining the supreme knowledge, Buddha continued to meditate beneath the tree for seven days without moving from his seat.
3. Muchalinda Sarovar
Buddha spent sixth week meditating at this place after attaining awakening.
There is a legend associated with it. When Buddha was meditating a severe thunderstorm broke here but he was unmoved. Seeing this, the snake king of the lake called ‘Muchalinda’ came out to protect Buddha with his hood from the rains.
This pond in holy Bodh Gaya town derives its name from the snake king of the pond.
4. Chinese Temple
Placed just opposite of Mahabodhi temple complex, Chinese temple in Bodh Gaya is a fine example of Chinese architecture and Buddhist culture and traditions.
The temple houses three golden statues of Lord Buddha and many inscriptions on the wall are engraved in Chinese. It was built by Buddhist monks with assistance from Chinese Government.
The temple is open for visitors till 6 pm everyday other than lunch hours (12 pm to 2 pm).
5. Thai Monastery
The ornately made Thai temple is one of the prime attractions of Bodh Gaya. It was built in the year 1956 by the then Thailand Monarch.
The monastery reflects an exceptional blend of Thai Buddhist architecture with sloping roof curved at the corners and adorned with golden tiles.
As you enter inside, a 25-meter high bronze statue of Lord Budhha catches attention. Abound in tranquility this place brings peace to the mind of the beholder.
The monastery is located within walking distance of Mahabodhi temple complex. It is open everyday from 9 am to 6 pm for visitors.
6. Great Budhha Statue
Adjacent to the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya is the Great Buddha statue which was consecrated by the 14th Dalai Lama in the year 1989.
It took seven years to complete this amazing sculpture of Buddha sitting in meditation pose on a lotus. Famed as 80-feet Buddha statue, this has become a landmark of Bodh Gaya town.
7. Royal Bhutan Monastery
Built at the behest of King of Bhutan as a tribute to Lord Buddha, Royal Bhutan Monastery is situated barely a kilometer away from Mahabodhi temple complex. The monastery has a beautiful Buddha temple housing a magnificent statue of Lord Buddha.
The most striking aspect of the monastery is 3-dimensional murals on the walls depicting life events of Gautam Buddha. It is a must add place in your checklist if you are visiting Bodh Gaya.
It is open for visitors throughout the day from 7 am to 5 pm except 2 hours during noon (12 pm to 2 pm).
8. Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple
One of the most popular Buddhist temples in Bodh Gaya, Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple is situated close to the Great Buddha Statue.
It was built in the year 1972 to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha world over. The temple is a showcase of Japanese architectural brilliance.
Important life events of Lord Buddha are beautifully engraved on the walls of the temple.
It closes for 2 hours during noon from 12 pm to 2 pm and remains open for visitors till 6 pm everyday.
How To Reach Bodh Gaya
The nearest airport is Gaya International Airport at a distance of 7 km from Bodh Gaya main town. It has direct flights from cities like Kolkata and Varanasi.
Gaya Airport is well linked by flight to countries such as Thailand, Japan, Bhutan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. The other nearest airport is located in Patna around 135 km away from Bodh Gaya.
You can reach here by train as well. Gaya is the nearest railhead which is connected to Patna, Delhi, Kolkata and other major cities.
Indian Railway operates special train Mahaparinirvan Express offering tours across important Buddhist sites.
By Road, it is 3.5 hours drive from Patna and 6 hours drive from Varanasi. There are direct buses available from Patna, Rajgir and Varanasi.
Where To Stay
Bodh Gaya has many budget and mid-range lodging options. Here are the hotels, I recommend.
Centrally located in Bodh Gaya town, Maya Heritage is a well-maintained hotel with all basic amenities. It lies within walking distance of the iconic Mahabodhi Temple and Great Buddha Statue.
This hotel features an on-site restaurant that offers a range of Indian, Chinese and continental cuisine.
A private parking facility is also available for the guests. The hotel arranges airport transfers as well. You need to inform them in advance for a pick-up from Gaya Airport.
Located some 3.5 km away from Mahabodhi Temple, Oaks Bodhgaya is one of the best hotels in the town. They offer a comfortable stay and are admired for their excellent hospitality.
This hotel has cozy rooms, an in-house restaurant, a garden and a fitness center. The restaurant serves mouth-watering dishes including tasty desserts. Do try hot chocolate brownie here.
Best Time To Visit
Bodh Gaya experiences extremely hot weather during summers and temperature can rise as high as 48 degrees.
The best time to visit is between the months of October to March. Though it attracts lots of tourists in May due to Buddha Jayanti or Buddha Purnima (Buddha’s birthday) celebrations.
Over To You Now…
Have you visited the holy town of Bodh Gaya? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
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