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Saturday, March 8, 2008

India : Bodh Gaya : Attractions and Excursions - 1

The life of Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, is associated with the small town of Bodhgaya. It is one of the holiest cities of Buddhist faith.

Tread reverently along the ancient path. Begin with the Mahabodhi tree where something strange happened - realization of truth or spiritual illumination. the tree still appears to radiate an aura of abiding serenity, spiritual solitude and peace.

Tradition states that Buddha stayed in Bodhgaya for seven weeks after his enlightenment. Each week was spent in a different part of the temple complex.

Slide Show source : Google

What to see at Bodh Gaya?

Mahabodhi Temple:

The famous Mahabodhi temple has been restored and rebuild over the centuries. Set among verdant lawns, this grant pyramidal sandstone structure soars to a height of 54 meters and is visible for miles around. The walls are carved with various aspects of Buddhism. the sanctum has a colossal golden Buddha. A chamber at the top houses a figure of Mayadevi, the Buddha's mother. An ancient stone railing surrounds the temple on three sides. The railing dates to 100 BC and is the oldest of the excavated evidence in Bodhgaya.

The temple is said to stand at the site of the original 3rd century BC. This temple built by the Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka. The temple was rebuilt in 7th century AD by the Pala kings of Bengal. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese scholar pilgrim, refers to having seen it. Destroyed by Muslim invaders in the 12th century, the temple was restored by the Burmese kings in the 14th century, flooded and buried under slit till the 9th century.

The Mahabodhi temple has now been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

Bodhi Tree:

The Buddha spent the first week after his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree, towards the left in the Mahabodhi Temple complex. It is believed that the original tree sprang up the day the Buddha was born. The tree was destroyed and replanted at least five times. The present tree grew from a sapling brought from the tree in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, which had been planted by Emperor Ashoka's son, Mahendra, in 3rd century BC. The holy tree, which is surrounded by small beautifully carved votive stupas and chaityas, form a canopy over the seven sacred shrines. People pray, meditate and prostrate before the Bodhi tree, making a wish or in thanksgiving.

Ratanaghara Chaitya:

The next weeks was devoted by Buddha in the Ratanaghara Chaitya to attain higher modes of exposition, Abhidhama Naya (deep meditation). He emitted dazzling light from his body which can be seen incorporated in the Buddhist flag of blue, yellow, red, white and orange.
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