Bodhgaya is a sacred city in Bihar, India. It is 12 kilometres from Gaya City. It is the one amongst the four most important places associated with the life of Gautama Buddha (other three are Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath). The Bodhi Tree and various locations in Bodhgaya are related to the days of meditation and enlightenment of Prince Siddhartha before he became Gautama Buddha. The peaceful ambience of these sites gives divine pleasure to the visitors. Famous Chinese travellers like Fa Hien and Xuanzang visited this city between the 5th and 7th century. This town as an important pilgrimage centre captivates historians, tourists and seekers of spirituality. Best time to visit Bodhgaya is from October to March. Buddha Purnima is the best time to experience the charm of the land of Gautama Buddha’s enlightenment.
Mahabodhi temple: This is an important pilgrimage of Buddhists. Ashoka built this temple in the 3rd century, and in 1880 it is restored by the British. The UNESCO declared this temple as World Heritage Site in 2002. It is the most sacred location where Buddha attained the enlightenment. The calm and peaceful surroundings attract people of all age group to this site. The oldest sculptural elements of the temple moved to the museum, e.g., carved stone railing around the temple to restore the beautiful ancient creation.
Bodhi Tree: This is very sacred tree under which Gautama Buddha attained his enlightenment. The Bodhi Tree in Mahabodhi temple called Sri Maha Bodhi. There is a “Diamond Throne” or “Vajrashila” where Buddha sat under the tree. As per the legend, it is said that this tree sprang up on the very day the Buddha was born. It is the direct descendant of the original tree. Bodhi day is celebrated on 8th of December.
Animesh Lochana Chaitya Shrine: Animesh Lochana means open eyes. It is the place where Lord Buddha spent his second week of meditation staring at the Bodhi Tree without blinking his eyes for a week. This is situated in the north-east of Mahabodhi temple. Ratnachankrama is the place between Animesh Lochana Chaitya and Bodhi tree where Buddha walked.
Cankamana: This is considered as one of the most sacred shrines. It is the place where Buddha practiced walking meditation or Cankamana during the third week of meditation. The pathway which was used by the Lord Buddha lies on the northern side of the temple.
Muchalinda Lake: It is said that when Buddha started meditation, at the end of the fourth week it became dark for seven days and a prodigious rain started. The mighty serpent king “Muchalinda” appeared down the earth and protected Lord Buddha with his hood.
Dungeswari Hills: This is a cave in the northeast of Bodhgaya in the Pragbodhi Hills. It is said that Buddha spent seven years of his life as an ascetic.
Great Buddha Statue: There is an eighty feet tall statue of Lord Buddha.
The other spots that attract people are Lotus Tank, Buddha Kund, Royal Bhutan Monastery, Thai Monastery, Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple, Chinese temple, Metta Budharam temple, Sujatha Temple, Burmese Vihara Monastery, Archaeological Museum etc.
The nearest airport is at Gaya (7 kilometres). Patna airport is 135 kilometres from this place. The nearest railway station is Gaya. Bodhgaya is well connected with the cities like Gaya, Rajgir, Patna, Varanasi, Kolkata, and others by road. Regular buses run to Bodhgaya from these places. Bihar STDC and private buses are available on a daily basis. Taxis, Tonga, auto-rickshaw, cycle-rickshaw are also available as local transport. “Wonder on Wheel” a unique caravan service has been started by BSTDC.
Bihar STDC runs hotels like Siddhartha Vihar, Buddha Vihar, and Sujata Vihar. Hotel Bodhgaya Ashok under ITDC and other private hotels are also available. Air-Conditioned, Non-AC rooms, and dormitory are available at reasonable price. All types of cuisines including veg and non-veg items are available in Bodhgaya.
Shopping in Bodhgaya is enjoyable. There are many shops along the road to the Mahabodhi Temple displaying a variety of decorative items, souvenir, associated with Buddhism. The most popular are different kinds of statues of Lord Buddha. There is also Tibetan refugee market selling woollen garments, wooden crafts, sandalwood beads, books on Buddhism and others handicrafts.