Mahabodhi Temple or the Great Awakening Temple is located in Bodh Gaya Bihar. It is a world-renowned and highly revered site, especially by the Buddhists faith. Mahabodhi Temple is one of the most important landmark locations of Bihar state and pride of India.
The temple is in existence since the time of Ashoka the great i.e. 3rd century BC hence it is clear that this place holds great historical and religious values not just for Buddhists but for entire India.
Mahabodhi temple is the place where Buddha attained enlightenment; it is one of the four sites connected to Buddha’s life hence counts for one of the most important Buddhist pilgrim sites.
Mahabodhi temple is a world-renowned monument and it is also a UNESCO world heritage site. Every year a great number of tourists from all over the world visits this iconic temple. The temple leaves its visitors awestruck with its beauty and grandeur.
Gautam Buddha is said to have lived here during 5th or 6th century BC. Bodh Gaya was the place where he attained enlightenment. However, the site did not have a temple or stupa built there for a few centuries. It was during 3rd century BC that a small temple was built here (around 260 BC) by the great Mauryan emperor Ashoka. The original temple was later replaced by a bigger one.
There’s no exact information available as to in which year the present temple was built. However, the current temple is credited to the Gupta Empire and is believed to be built between 5th – 6th century CE. The architectural style of the temple is called the Gupta style of Indian architecture. Mahabodhi temple is known for its excellent brickwork and beautiful carvings.
In the 1st century AD, this area was bordered with stone rail. Some remnants of it are still available in the complex. This railing is one of the oldest parts of the temple.
Around the 12th century, the temple saw a period of distress. Muslim rulers/invaders posed a great threat to the existence of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain structures and faiths as a whole. As a result, many temples including Mahabodhi Temple was left abandoned for a few years. It was in the 19th century that this holy shrine was revived and its splendor was restored.
Mahabodhi temple is an example of the rich heritage of India. This magnificent shrine named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2002.
The temple commands an unmatched grandeur and a powerful aura. People from all around the world come here to gain spiritual experience of this holy shrine.
This place is a religious center for the Buddhists society. The Buddhist community believes this place to be the center of the universe, they believe that in the event of destruction of the world it will be last to be destroyed and will be the first one when it is rebuilt.
Mahabodhi Temple- Structure, significance and all that it stands for:
Mahabodhi temple has serenity and calmness spread all around. This epic temple commands a magnificent architectural style and features. The intricate carving, adornment on the temple walls is a work of art. The beauty and tranquillity of this place are such that it cannot be explained in words. One really has to be there it feels and soak it all in.
This historic temple is spread over an approximate area of 4.8 hectares and has a height of about 180 feet i.e. 55 meters. The Mahabodhi temple incorporates exemplary brickwork in its structure. The architectural style of this iconic temple incorporated many Hindu features. Even the figures of Hindu Gods like Surya and Indra along with some mythological beasts are carved in some parts.
Other significant structures of the Mahabodhi temple complex:
Apart from the main temple, its complex includes Bodhi tree, lotus Pond, Jewel Walk statue of Buddha etc.
The descendant of the fig tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment is situated to the left of the temple. Because it was under this tree that Buddha attained enlightenment the tree is called Bodhi tree.
Under the Bodhi tree is a platform that has footprints of Buddha imprinted on it. The place where Buddha sat for meditation is now a red sandstone slab. The famous Lotus pond is where Buddha used to perform ablutions is located near the temple.
This magnificent temple house a huge gold-covered statue made of black stone of Buddha, the image of Buddha is dressed in orange robes. The idol is seen in Bhumisparsh Mudra or earth witness Mudra. This colossal idol faces east direction and is said to be over 1700 years old.
Another attraction of the temple complex is the Jewel Walk or Chankramana Chaitya it is said that this was the place where after Buddha attained enlightenment, he practiced walking meditation here for seven days.
Mahabodhi temple complex is dotted with precious figurines and structures belonging to different historical eras. Several statues of Buddhas, smaller stupas are housed in the courtyard of the temple.
Mahabodhi Temple of Gaya is truly an architectural masterpiece. With its spiritual power and enchanting beauty can leave anyone mesmerized. I would highly recommend this place to everyone. Whether you are spiritually inclined or not the charisma of this place is such that it demands to be explored at least once in one’s lifetime.
The temple is situated at a distance of 115 km from Patna city of Bihar. It is well connected with other places hence visiting here will not be troublesome.
Take my word for it and plan your trip to Gaya you will not regret it I promise.