The Mahabodhi Temple, one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India, has had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries. balustrades, and the memorial column. The present temple is one of the earliest and most imposing structures built entirely from brick in the late Gupta period. The sculpted stone balustrades are an outstanding early example of sculptural reliefs in stone.
The Temple Complex has direct associations with the life of the Lord Buddha (566-486 BC) as the place where in 531 BC he attained the supreme and perfect insight while seated under the Bodhi Tree. It provides exceptional records for the events associated with his life and for subsequent worship, particularly since Emperor Asoka made a pilgrimage to this spot around 260 BC and built the first temple at the site of the Bodhi Tree. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is located in the very heart of the city of Bodh Gaya. The site consists of the main temple and six sacred places within an enclosed area, and a seventh one, the Lotus Pond, just outside the enclosure to the south.
The most important of the sacred places is the giant Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa ). This tree is to the west of the main temple and is supposed to be a direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha spent his First Week and where he had his enlightenment. To the north of the central path, on a raised area, is the Animeshlochan Chaitya (prayer hall) where the Buddha is believed to have spent the Second Week. The Buddha spent the Third Week walking 18 paces back and forth in an area called Ratnachakrama (Jewelled Ambulatory), which lies near the north wall of the main temple.
The spot where he spent the Fourth Week is Ratnaghar Chaitya, located to the north-east near the enclosure wall. Immediately after the steps of the east entrance on the central path there is a pillar which marks the site of the Ajapala Nigrodh Tree, under which Buddha meditated during his Fifth Week, answering the queries of Brahmins. He spent the Sixth Week next to the Lotus Pond to the south of the enclosure, and the Seventh Week under the Rajyatana Tree currently marked by a tree.
Opening Hours and Entrance Fees
The Mahabodhi Temple complex is open from 5 a.m. until 9 p.m. There’s no entry fee. However, the charge for cameras is 100 rupees, and 300 rupees for video cameras. The meditation park is open from sunrise until sunset. A small entry fee is payable.
30 minute chanting sessions take place at the temple at 5.30 a.m. and 6 p.m.
In order to maintain peace inside the temple premises, visitors must leave cell phones and electronic devices at the free baggage counter at the entrance.
How to reach
Gaya airport, 12 kilometers (7 miles) away, has infrequent direct flights from Kolkata. If you’re coming from other major Indian cities, the nearest airport is in Patna, 140 kilometers (87 miles) away. From Patna, it’s a three to four-hour drive.
Bodh Gaya can be easily reached by train. The nearest railway station is Gaya, which is well connected with Patna, Varanasi, New Delhi, Kolkata, Puri, and other places in Bihar. The journey from Patna by train is about two and a half hours.
Bodh Gaya can also be visited as part of a pilgrimage to other Buddhist sites in India. Indian Railways operates a special Mahaparinirvan Express Buddhist Tourist Train.
Another popular option is to travel to Bodh Gaya from Varanasi by car taking under six hours.