The Mahabodhi Temple (महाबोधि मंदिर) (Literally: “Grand Awakening Temple”), is a Buddha temple, wherein it believed the Gautama Buddha have attained the enlightenment. Bodh Gaya is located about 96 km from Patna, in Gaya dist. Of Bihar state, India.
The Mahabodhi Temple was Declared UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002. Prior to 1880, when this temple was under British Govt, all accounts indicate that it was a sadly uncared for and partially collapsed damage.
Next to the temple, on western side, there is the holy Bodhi tree. In the Pali Canon, the site is called Bodhimanda, and the monastery there the Bodhimanda Vihara. The tallest tower is 55 metres (180 ft) tall. The Vault of Mahabodhi Temple is coated with Gold plates weighing about 290 kg by the Government of Thailand.
Traditional books say that, around in 530 BC, Siddhartha Gautama, a young prince saw the people around him were suffering and wanted to end it, reached the forested banks of Falgu River, near Gaya. There he sit in meditation under a peepul tree, which later being known as the Bodhi tree. According to Budhism scriptures, later than three days and three nights, Siddharta attained enlightenment and the answers for what he was looking for. In that location, Mahabodhi Temple was built by Emperor Ashoka in around 260 BC.
The Buddha then used up the succeeding seven weeks at seven different places in the area for meditation and to consider his experience. These specific places at the current Mahabodhi Temple relate to the traditions surrounding these seven weeks
- The first week Budha spent under the Bodhi tree.
- In second week, the Buddha remained standing and stared, continuous at the Bodhi tree. This spot is marked by the Animeshlocha Stupa, that is, the unblinking stupa or shrine, which is located on the North-east of the Mahabodhi Temple complex. There stands a Buddha statue with his eyes fixed towards the Bodhi tree.
- The Buddha is said to have walked back onward between the location of the Animeshlocha Stupa and the Bodhi tree. According to fairy tale, lotus flowers sprung up on this route, it is now called Ratnachakarma or the jewelry walk.
- Buddha spent the fourth week near Ratnagar Chaitya, placed near Northeast side.
- In fifth week, Buddha answered in detail to the Questions of Brahmins under Ajapala Nigodh tree, currently it is marked by a pillar.
- He spent the sixth week next to Lotus pond.
- Buddha spent the seventh week under Rajyatna tree.
According UNESCO, “the present temple is one of the earliest and most impressive structures built entirely in brick during Gupta period”. Mahabodhi Temple’s central tower rises 55 metres (180 ft), and heavily renovated in the 19th century. The central tower is surrounded by four smaller towers, constructed in the same style.
The Mahabodhi Temple is surrounded all four sides by stone railings, about two meters in hight. The railings reveal two distinct types, both in style as well as the materials used. The older ones, made of sandstone, about in 150 BCE, and the others, constructed from unpolished common granite, are believed to be constructed during the Gupta period (300–600 CE). The older railing is have scenes of Maha Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, being bathed by elephants; and Surya, the God Sun, riding a chariot drawn by four horses. The new railings have figures of stupas (reliquary shrines) and Garudas (eagles). Images of lotus flowers also appear in commonly.
The Maha Bodhi Temple is East facing, the direction Buddha was facing when he was in meditation under the Bodhi Tree. The meaning of Maha Bodhi is Great Enlightenment. It is the holiest place in Buddhism; because this is the place of enlightenment, the objective and intention of the Dhamma.
On 7 July 2013, ten low-intensity bombs were exploded in the temple complex, injuring 5 people. One bomb was near the Buddha statue and another was near the Mahabodhi tree. Three unexploded bombs were also recovered and defused. The blasts take place between 5.30 a.m. and 6.00 a.m. The main temple is intact and cleaned.
Opening Hours and Entrance Fees
The Mahabodhi Temple complex is open during 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. No entry fee is charged here. However, Rs. 20 for camera, and Rs. 300 for video cameras are charged. The meditation park is opened from sunrise to sunset. The entry fee is Rs. 20 for visitors and Rs.25 for meditation.