BODH GAYA

The Cradle of Buddhism

LOCATION

Bodh Gaya is in India, 12 km (7.5 mi) from the city of Gaya in the province of Bihar, which is itself in the northeast of India, near Nepal.

What does Bodh Gaya look like?

If one ignored the temple, the diamond throne (made out of sandstone), the giant statue of Buddha and the Bodhi tree, Bodh Gaya would be a normal Indian town. Bodh Gaya is not normal. It's one of the most important sites to the Buddhist religion. In order to show its importance, the Buddhists built many monuments, Stupas, and statues all across the town: the Mahabodhi, the Statue of Buddha, the Bodhi tree, and the Diamond Throne. The Mahabodhi is an huge temple 52 meters(170 ft) tall. It towers over the town. The Giant Statue of Buddha is also an wonder, 80 feet high, towering over those who come to see it. The diamond throne is a small shrine but very important to Buddhism, It is just a canopy over an stone seat. The Bodhi Tree is also important to Buddhists. It is an tree surrounded by an fence, and many Buddhists come every year to see it. Overall Bodh Gaya is not an normal town despite what I said earlier.

Bodh Gaya's History

According to Buddhist tradition, Bodh Gaya was the place were Buddha achieved enlightenment. A couple of centuries after Buddha's death the Mauryan emperor Asoka built an fence around the Bodhi tree or Tree of Enlightenment. Around the same time, the mighty Mahabodhi temple and Vajrasana the seat of enlightenment also built at Bodh Gaya. Tradition states that not long afterward the first Bodhi Tree was cut down by Asoka's wife because she was jealous of the attention the tree got. The current tree is the descendent of the first Bodhi Tree.

Until the 1200s C.E. there were many Buddhists in the area, Then the "Turks" scared them off. In the 1950's pilgrims an tourists alike began to go back to Bodh Gaya . Today it is a popular tourist site and people come from all over the world to see it.
The giant statue of Buddha at Bodh Gaya.
Buddha under Bodhi Tree.

Who considers Bodh Gaya sacred?

According to Buddhist tradition, Bodh Gaya is the place where Buddha achieved enlightenment. Within this temple complex, the diamond throne is where he sat, the Bodhi tree is believed to be descended from the one Buddha sat under, and Mahabodhi Temple is the supposed location where Buddha achieved enlightenment. Because of all these important religious sites, Buddhists consider Bodh Gaya to be sacred.
The Bodhi tree, descended (or maybe the tree itself!) from the one that Buddha achieved enlightenment under which started Buddhism.
The Mahabodhi temple at the location of Buddhas enlightenment.
The 'Diamond Throne' at Bodh Gaya
The interior of Mahabodhi temple.

Why is Bodh Gaya sacred to Buddhists?

Bodh Gaya is the place where Buddha achieved Nirvana making it the most important site to Buddhists. Nirvana is the state of being free from all desires. Anyone who is Buddhist has reaching the state of Nirvana as a goal. Buddhists come to Bodh Gaya to walk in Buddha's footsteps, see the religious relics and to help them strive to reach Nirvana.

According to the Buddha Dharma Education Association Buddhanet, "It is a place which should be visited or seen by a person of devotion and which would cause awareness and apprehension of the nature of impermanence".
Monks at Bodh Gaya.