Mahabodhi Temple literally means Great Awakening Temple. It is an ancient Buddhist Temple in Bodh Gaya. Bodh Gaya is about 96 km from Patna, Bihar, India. It is said that Buddha has attained enlightenment in this location. Mahabodhi Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mahabodhi Temple is one amongst the four holy sites related to the life of the Buddha. This temple was built in the late Gupta period. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, that is still standing in India. This temple is said to have significant influence in the development of brick architecture over the centuries. This temple was the first temple built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C.
What is the history of Mahabodhi Temple?
Gautama Buddha once reached the Slyvan Banks of Falgu River, wandering as a monk. He sat under a peepul tree for meditating. it is said that after three days and three nights of meditating, he finally received enlightenment and all the answers that he sought. The peepul tree later came to be known as Bodhi Tree. The Mahabodhi Temple was built here by the devotees to mark the location.
After this, Buddha spent seven weeks in seven different spots meditating.
- He spent the first week under the Bodhi tree.
- On the second week, he just stood and stared at the Bodhi tree uninterrupted. an unblinking Stupa was built to mark this place. This Stupa is called Animeshlocha Stupa. Located at the north-east of Mahabodhi Temple, this shrine houses a statue of Buddha with his eyes fixed towards the Bodhi tree.
- It is said that Buddha walked back and forth from Bodhi tree and Animeshlocha Stupa. That place is called Ratnachakarma which means the Jewel walk. It is said that lotus flowers sprung across this place.
What is the architecture of Mahabodhi Temple?
The Mahabodhi Temple is 50 m high and grand. The property of the temple has a total area of 4.8600 ha. The temple comprises of a sacred Bodhi Tree and other six sacred sites of Buddha’s enlightenment. These are surrounded by numerous ancient Votive stupas which are well maintained and protected by inner, middle and outer circular boundaries. A Lotus Pond, is located outside the enclosure to the south. This is usually called the seventh sacred place. Both the temple area and the Lotus Pond are surrounded by circulating passages at two or three levels. This temple was the first temple built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C.
The style of the edifice declares that it was built primarily to form a monument, not a shrine of Buddha. The Main Temple is built in the classical style of Indian temple architecture. The wall of the main temple has an average height of 11 m. It has entrances from the east and from the north and has a low basement.
What are the Mahabodhi Temple timings?
The Mahabodhi temple is open all days throughout the week.
|5:00 AM||The opening of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara (main shrine)|
|5:30 am to 6:00 am||Sutta chanting and meditation|
|10:00 AM||The offering of Kheer (rice pudding cooked with rice, milk, and sugar)|
|6:00 pm to 6:30 pm||Sutta chanting (Mahayana tradition)|
|6:30 pm to 7:00 pm||Sutta chanting (Pali)|
|9:00 PM||The closing of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara.|
How to reach the Temple?
- Air: You can fly to Patna. Patna airport is connected to all major cities.
- Train: The nearest station is Gaya. The distance of the temple from Gaya is 16 km.
- Road: You can drive to Gaya and then to the temple. The Grand Trunk Road connects Gaya to cities like Jamshedpur, Patna, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kolkata, Kanpur etc.
What are the entry fees of Mahabodhi Temple?
- There’s no entry fee.
- However, the charge for cameras is Rs. 100, and Rs. 300 for video cameras.
- A small entry fee is payable for the meditation park. It is open from sunrise until sunset.
- Visitors are asked to leave cell phones and electronic devices at the free baggage counter at the entrance of the temple.
- 30-minute chanting sessions take place at the temple at 5.30 a.m. and 6 p.m.