Bodhgaya, The Land Where Ignorance Meets Enlightenment
Bodhgaya is a religious site which is believed to have been the place where Lord Buddha experienced the culmination of ignorance and embraced the enlightenment that dawned upon him under the huge Bodhi (Peepal) tree. Along with Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath, Bodhgaya is also considered a main pilgrimage related to the life of Gautam Buddha.
A two-day stay at this enchanting place gave me a comprehensive insight into the life of Buddha and his principles and a glimpse of Buddhism through the various small and large monasteries covering the area. The enthralling Maha Bodhi temple, which is the sight housing the Tree of Enlightenment or the Bodhi tree in a sprawling area is a must-visit for every tourist and pilgrim alike. This temple is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
How to Reach ?
After reaching Gaya airport or Gaya station, take any public state transport buses to cover up the few kilometres to the Bodhgaya. You can also hire private cab.
Temples at a Glance
In Bodhgaya lies the 80-foot tall Buddha statue in the Daijokyo Buddhist temple, which is a famous and one of the most visited places in Gaya apart from the main temple. Staying at a guesthouse right behind this massive structure was the best part of my trip.
At dawn, the top portion of this huge statue glimmered in the golden rays falling fresh on it and a view of the same from the balcony of my room was an astounding scene. It was as if the ray of wisdom that enlightened the great Buddha radiated through the statue, trying to illuminate my dark worlds with Buddha’s message of following the path of righteousness and spreading peace and love.
Thai , Chinese & Tibetan Monasteries
A further ride into the city gives you an opportunity to visit the monasteries of various countries situated close to each other. The Thai Monastery was built in an attempt to strengthen the relations between the two countries. This houses the beautifully carved Buddha statue in the silent sanctum of the temple. Aesthetically built, this monastery brings to fore the traditional Thai architecture with sloping and curved roofs adorned with golden tiles. It was great to experience a serene and quiet atmosphere inside the temple which is a much needed thing for every individual.
Adjacent to the Thai Monastery are the Chinese and Tibetan monasteries depicting the rich Chinese and Tibetan architecture in the building and each of them had stupendous statue of Lord Buddha.
The main feature of all these monasteries is the utmost silence that an individual can experience; it seems like you have been presented with an opportunity to introspect and decode life on your own terms.
The Mahabodhi temple is a masterpiece of an architecture that also forms the main point of attraction for every traveller stepping into the holy land of Gaya. The moment I stepped at the vicinity of this temple, I could feel some kind of positive vibrations from this pristine place that treasures the Knowledge Tree and the illuminated individual (Lord Buddha) who became the messenger of peace and love to the world.
Visiting this temple at night was the best choice as the temple shone under a million stars and moonlight from above and multicoloured light bulbs on the ground. The entire temple is built on white sandstone with the footprints of Lord Buddha in black sandstone.
The 50-m tall temple is surrounded by the Vajrasana (the diamond throne) and six sacred places, along with the Bodhi tree and a lotus pond situated externally. The constant Buddhist chants fills the atmosphere with a deep murmur of prayers as you enter inside the temple. Indeed, this temple is an amazing place to visit.
Food and Stay
Gaya is a holy city and the food is mostly pure vegetarian one consisting of a wide assortment of fresh vegetables served with chapatis or Indian flatbread. Few restaurants may offer non-vegetarian food, too, if specifically asked for the same. The food is light and extremely delicious. A variety of sweets made from pure ghee or clarified butter is available to treat your tastebuds with. There are many luxurious hotels for accommodations such as the Hotel Lumbini International, R K Palace, Hotel Heritage or the Bodhgaya Residency Hotel that promise you a wonderful stay and great amenities.
The climate here is generally warm and temperate and quite pleasant during the onset of winters. The open areas around the temples are filled with cool morning breeze which is extremely comforting. You can choose to visit this place in summers if you wish to experience a nice seasonal downpour of this city.
Bodhgaya, although a land of holy shrines, is a place worth a visit for every individual who believes or does not believe in the existence of God; this place helps you feel the significance of wisdom and enlightenment rather than follow the customary idol worship that the modern-day man finds quite intimidating. The silence and serenity helps you introspect, understand your true self and find your purpose of existence.