Mahabodhi Temple is the holiest place of the Buddhists. This is the same place where 2,500 years ago Siddhartha Gautam had gained knowledge and he had become Lord Buddha.
It is situated in Bodhgaya region of Bihar in India and is 96 kilometers away from eth capital for the state, Patna. This temple is a Buddhist Stupa and along with Buddhists it is also a holy place for the Hindus. This is because Lord Buddha has been stated as the 23rd incarnation of Lord Krishna in the Hindu scriptures.
To the west of the temple is the holy tree, Bodhivriksh, under which Siddhartha had gained knowledge. In the third century BC, the first Buddhist king of India, Asoka, had made this stupa in Bodhgaya but in the second century it was destroyed. In 400 CE Chinese travelers, Xing, had gone to Bodhgaya. In his accounts he has written that Bodhgaya has many stupas. In the years 750 – 1200 the Pal and army kings re -constructed the temple but after some time it was again destroyed. In the 19th century, English leader, Alexandra Cunningham re – constructed it and in 1882 the Burma Buddhists decorated it and took care of it.
In 1819, a board was elected for the Mahabodhi temple. In 1948, the Bodhgaya Rule was made and this place became famous as a Buddhist holy place. In 2002, this temple was added to the long list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
The present temple’s architecture is 1500 years old and is built in bricks. The main temple is spread over in 45 square meters and is in the shape of a square from below and ends as a pyramid on the top. The square above the pyramid gives it a special look. The tower standing in between is 54 meter high. The bricks outside the temple are arranged in a design that tells the story of Lord Buddha.
There is a big statue of Lord Buddha in the main temple and the left hand is touching the ground. This statute is 1700 years old. His face faces the eats direction and this pose is called ‘The Ground Touching Face’. The statue is made of black stone which is covered with gold and has been dressed with bright clothes. The campus has many smaller temples and statues of Lord Buddha which are all very old.
The Bodhivriksh is also a very devotional place. Under this tree, for 49 days, Siddhartha had done his penance and gained knowledge. After this incident he came to be known as Buddha. But this is not the same tree instead a left over part of it.
It is said that in the third century BC, Asoka’s daughter, Sanghmitri, took a branch of the real Bodhivriksh and plated it in Sri Lanka and it still stands tall. During this time, King
Asoka’s wife destroyed the real tree because she didn’t like him spending most of his time near the tree. It is said that the tree was destroyed in the 7th century. While some contradict statements say that the tree was destroyed but a branch was brought from the tree in Sri Lanka and planted in India.
According to Buddhists this is the only place where one can attain knowledge and peace. Actually this tree has become a symbol of Lord Buddha. Today traditionally, a Bodhivriksh is placed in each Buddhist temple and Buddhist priest are there to enlighten the people about the tree.