Bodh Gaya

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1. Entrance to Bodh Gaya Temple. Collection presented in three parts since there are over 100 images. This album covers temple overview, inside temple. Part 2 covers walk around temple inner courtyard, meditation garden, Buddha images on temple wall. Part 3 covers pics of non Indians, country-wise monasteries and Buddha images inside them.

2. Part 1 has circumbulation or parikrama around temple and view from each side, seven places where Buddha spent each week of the first 49 days after enlightenment, Buddha images inside temple. Pic of temple post sunset when it is beautifully lit as u can see. To know more visit temple website . Guide Sanjay Mishra 99558 19396, Rajkumar Singh 99559 37644. .

3. Temple side view. Pink color structures are associated with Sanatan Mandirs. "Temple consists of a high straight-edged pyramidal tower, surrounded by a hti with fluted amalaka like lower member and with angle amalakas at corners indicating different stages. Each of the 4 faces of the tower represent several tiers of niches, every one of which originally contained Buddhist figures. At the base of the towers there rises at each of the four corners a turret, which is a replica of the main tower. The technique of construction have close pararrels to the Bhitargaon temple. No sikhara can be placed before 6th century a.d. The chief interest of this group of temples lies in the shikhara surmounting the sanctum unlike the early low and flat roofed temples".

4. Another view of the temple taken from the meditation park. "The Mahabodhi Mahåvihåra or more popularly known as the Bodhgaya Temple or the Great Stupa is one of shrines out of 84000 shrines erected by King Asoka the Great in the 3rd century B.C."

5. An imposing view of the temple. The temple is a fifty metre tall pyramidal tower, crowned with a bell like Stupa. The base is a fifteen metre square two-some structure supporting four smaller towers identical to their central counterpart.

6. Side view of temple. A Chinese pilgrim who visited here in 637 AD wrote "To the east of the Bodhi tree, there is a vihara about 160 or 170 feet high. Its lower foundation-wall is 20 or paces in its face. The building is of blue bricks covered with chunam (burnt stone lime) all the niches in the different stones hold golden figures." Asoka made a stupa which lasted upto 2nd century A.D. The original structure of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara was completed in 7th century A.D. during the reign of the Gupta kings.

7. A nicely paved pathway leads to entrance of the temple as shown in the photo. On the left is a room to deposit footwear, slightly further is a book shop.

8. "In 6th century BC Gautama attained enlightenment under the bodhi tree here and became Buddha. In commemoration Emperor Ashoka set up the diamond throne representing the seat of enlightenment. The present temple was constructed in the 6th century A.D. Turkish invaders like Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed this temple in 1205. "A very thorough renovation of the Temple was taken up during 1874 by the deputations of the Burmese King, Mindon-Min and subsequently completed in 1884 under the supervision of Sir Alexander Cunningham and Beglar." Coins which were found here depicted the original temple design, based on which the temple was restored to its former glory. These coins are today preserved in Kolkata Chowringhee Museum.

9. Group posing for pic. They appear to be from S.E.Asia although I do not know the country. Guide told me that the remains of the temple were up to the level of monks heads and the whole area was filled with sand. The entire area was excavated, remains of earlier temple found are today placed within the temple complex and probably in the Bodh Gaya Museum as well.

10. It had rained, so the structures are looking wet. Devotees leave flowers in plates on the hedge as an offering to the Buddha. "In the year 563 B.C. in the kingdom of Kapilavastu was born a prince to King Suddhodana and Queen Mahamaya in the royal Lumbini grove under a Sal Tree. On the fifth day of his birth he was named Siddhartha. During his formative years he received early education and was trained in warfare and administration but he was often found immersed in deep - thoughts regarding the suffering and miseries of humanity."

11. To start circumbulation around temple one turns left from entrance or clock wise. Centre is garden where numerous stupas kept. The Temple at far end left side of picture is a chaitya (shrine) dedicated to the point where Buddha spent the second week after enlightenment. "When prince Siddhartha was 29 years old he left his home and spent time with several teachers in search for truth, that would end this continous cycle of birth and death."

12. See stupas in front. Marble walk way at higher level, next grass slope, another walkway paved with red stone that u see and then into the main temple. "The Bodhisattva Siddhartha who was determined to reach the truth started his fight against Mara, the Evil One sitting for meditation with a strong determination (adhitthâna) that unless and until he had not discovered the ultimate nature of reality, he would not get up from the seat, come what may."

13. Stupas made by emperor Asoka. They contain relics of Buddhist monks. Temple complex is very well maintained and clean.

14. A side view of the temple. Sky was overcast when I took this pic. You can see fountain in front. "On the full Moon day of Vaisaka during the last watch of the night at the age of 35 years he attained Supreme Enlightenment and came to be known as the Buddha which means the All Knowing One, the All Compassionate One."

15. Temple entrance is east side. At end of pic is the Bodhi Tree. Area below is used for prayers etc. "After attaining Enlightenment, the Buddha spent seven more weeks in meditation in seven different places around the Bodhi Tree contemplating his stupendous achievement for this human life."

16. Pic from south west corner. Devotees taken wooden platforms and use them to continuously prostrate before the Buddha. "Then Buddha went to Kashi where at the Deer park in modern day Sarnath the first sermon (the Dhammachakka pavattana) was expounded or the setting in motion the Wheel of Law to the first five disciples who were earlier closely associated with Siddhartha for six long years, exhorting them to avoid the two extremes of self-indulgence and self mortification."

17. This is west side walk way. A similar walk way exists all around the temple. "The Buddha expounded the Dhamma based on the Four Noble Truths ie Dukka (Suffering) , the cause of Dukkha (Suffering), the cessation of Dukkha (Suffering) and the path leading to the cessation of Dukkha which was through Arya Atthangika Magga (the Noble Eightfold Path) consisting of Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration, Right Understanding and Right Thought."

18. Dharma Chakra or Prayer Wheel all along walk way on Northern side of temple. They are made of copper or brass, have sacred letters inscribed on them & inside are filled the Buddhist mantra - Om Mani Padme Hung - which directly translates into Venerate The Precious Jewel like Lotus i.e. Lord Buddha. There are rolls of paper in the prayer wheel and turning these wheels turns the roll of paper inside which is considered to be a recitation of the mantra itself. The more one turns these prayer wheel, the more merit the mantra brings to that person.

19. A view of the stupas from the northern side. See numerous wooden platforms. "The Dhamma which is based on the three pillars of Sila (Morality), Samadhi (Concentration) and Prajna (Wisdom) which in other words is also called the Middle Way or the righteous way of life".

20. Northern side - you can walk down the steps to the temple. Shrine on left hand side of pic is where Buddha spent the second week in meditation gazing at the Bodhi Tree without blinking.

21. View from the north eastern side. "The Buddha established the Sangha or the Order of Monks for the creation of an ideal society based on Metta (loving-kindness) Karunâ (compassion), Muditâ (sympathetic joy) and Upekkhâ (equanimity) which was free from class, caste and colour prejudices and maintained equality, freedom, justice, fraternity and brotherhood."

22. This gate was made during Emperor Ashoka period to symbolise that it was Gautama who walked through this gate but the one who returned was Buddha. Right side pillar is of recent origin, the left is original. As you can see the front face of temple has a long lancet opening that allows for light to enter into the sanctum. Next 7 different places where Buddha spent seven weeks after attaining Enlightenment.

23. For each place first board and then the place. This is place one. Flew into Patna from Mumbai. Distance from Patna to Bodh Gaya is 112 kms - took me about four hours by car. Or take a train to Gaya from where it is about 30 minute drive or fly into Gaya International Airport.

24. Right is Bodhi Tree, behind is temple. Vajrasana or the Diamond Throne is the seat of enlightenment was made in the 3rd century B.C. by King Asoka. It lies between the temple and the Bodhi Tree. It is where Prince Siddhartha meditated to become Buddha.

25. This is the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha sat to achieve enlightenment. King Ashoka`s wife Thikvakshita who was not a Buddhist had the tree cut out of spite. Ashoka poured milk on its roots and the tree revived. Ashoka`s daughter Sangamitta took a shoot of the tree to Sri Lanka where the King, Devanampiyatissa, planted it at the Mahavihara monastery in Anuradhapura. In 600 AD King Seshanka destroyed tree. My guide said third tree was destroyed due to natural calamities. The British arranged for a branch of the tree to be brought from Anuradhapura Sri Lanka and planted it here.

26. A closer view of the branches of the Bodhi Tree. Just below it are a group of young Bhutanese monks who are being taught by their senior. In the background is the railing.

27. The place of unblinking gazing ie where Buddha spent the second week in meditation after attaining enlightenment. It is on the north eastern side of temple.

28. Against the temple tower you see a chaitya (shrine) in front dedicated to the event of Buddha spending the second week in meditation in standing posture gazing at the Bodhi Tree with motionless eyes for one whole week. Shrine located in north-east side of the temple.

29. Image of Buddha inside the shrine.

30. Third week after enlightenment board.

31. Buddha spent the third week after enlightenment walking up and down. The lotuses that you see, on which flowers are placed now, are the seven steps that Buddha took whilst walking.

32. Board for fourth week after enlightenment.

33. In the centre is a small roofless shrine (north west of temple), known as Ratanaghara or the Jewel House. Buddha spent the fourth week here reflecting on the Patthana or the Law of Dependant Origination. While he sat here in contemplation the 6 rays of blue, red, yellow, white and orange and a combination of all these colors forming the sixth color emanated from his body. The Buddhist flag of Buddhist countries is designed with these colors.

34. Buddha image inside the roofless shrine.

35. Board for fifth week after Enlightenment.

36. Buddha spent the fifth week in meditation under this tree after enlightenment. He replied to a Brahaman that by one````s karmas does one become a Brahamana not by birth. The tree is replaced by a Asoka pillar.

37. Board for sixth week after Enlightenment.

38. Mucalinda Lake (abode of Snake King). While Buddha was meditating here a severe storm broke out. Seeing the Lord getting drenched the snake king of the lake called Mucalinda came out of his abode and encircling the body of Buddha several times, held his hood over him as a protection against violent wind and rain.

39. Board for seventh week after Enlightenment.

40. After spending the seventh week in meditation after Enlightenment, two merchants from Burma offered rice cake and honey to Buddha and took refuge - Buddham Sarnam Gacchami. They were the first lay devotees of Buddha. They took some hair from the Buddha which according to Burmese tradition are preserved in the famous Shwedagon Pagoda of Burma.

41. Along the southern side of the walking area are boards that depict the teachings of Buddha. This one gives you the four main places associated with Buddha.

42. The next 20 pics are of Buddha inside the temple and a walk around the temple ie within the railings. U enter temple walk thru a small hall come to gate that u see. When prayers are said in morning and evening gate is closed otherwise one can go close to the image.

43. Gilded image of Buddha seated cross-legged with one hand pointing to the earth ie in the attitude of Bhumisparsa Mudra in which Sakyamuni sat when he attained enlightenment. Centre below is the image of Sujata who offered milk-rice to Buddha after he had undergone severe austerities for six years to gain Enlightenment.

44. A close up view of the Buddha image. Number of devotees buy cloth (app cost Rs 500) and give it to the monk inside the temple with request to drape it round the Buddha. We present pics of Buddha is different type of cloth design and color.

45. A horizontal view of image. Every time I looked at Buddha````s eyes they said something different - at times felt as if the eyes were talking to me.

46. Buddha draped in a different cloth given by devotee. Number of devotees want themselves clicked in front of Buddha image.

47. Another view of Buddha. Gold painted image of Buddha made of Black stone made by the Pala Kings of Bengal. Guide said it was King Mahipal in the 10th century.

48. A close up view of Buddha face.

49. Remains of a Shivlinga inside the temple. It is worshipped daily. The Bihar government must make a non stop expressway between Patna and Bodh Gaya to reduce travel time to less than two hours.

50. As you walk down the steps into the temple complex on your left is a big Bell that was gifted by the Burmese.

51. When the excavations took place a large number of stupas and images were found. These are preserved carefully by placing on the stupa. On your right see staircase that takes u into temple from marble walking area.

52. Footprints of Buddha. The footprint is regarded as semi-iconic in the sense that it is merely suggestive of human figuration. In the Bharhut representation the foot-prints of the Buddha are marked by a wheel. The wheel represents the Turning of the Wheel of Law. (Dharmachakra attana).

53. There are four small mandirs at entrance of the bodh gaya temple which also contain Buddha images.

54. All along the temple is railing that you see. As you enter temple area on your right side are various stupas that were found on excavation.

55. Southern wall of temple. Devotees praying to Buddha. Note the marble flooring is spotlessly clean. I saw devotees praying from early morning to late at night. A Thai mother and daughter got a camping tent and spent the night here - be close to Buddha once in a life time experience.

56. Railings have some interesting work on them. Below is Pali script. Shows tree being taken from Bodh Gaya to Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. Lots of good hotels in Bodh Gaya at various price points. You can get a decent non a/c room for Rs 700-900 in peak season. You can get a room for Rs 400 and Rs 5000 per day. I stayed in Birla Dharamshala ie very close to the temple. Rs 400 a day for a clean room & bath.

57. On the Left is the old railing made in 300 B.C., on right side is the new railing. There are only 4 original railings found. Between the railing is a monk. Older railing has Surya drawing a chariot driven by four horses etc. Please make it a point to see each of the four old railings. I missed it.

58. During Buddha``s time and may be thereafter there were lots of elephants in the area. So human had to beat them away so that they did not damage the Bodhi Tree. All descriptions in inverted commas is taken from the temple site.

59. Sanchi stupa. To see pictures of Sanchi stupa Click here

60. Teachings of Buddha. There are many boards like this in walkway on southern side of temple. You shall see more. To see part 2 of Bodh Gaya Temple click here.

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