Mahabodhi Temple Complex was first established in 3rd century BC when Emperor Asoka built the first temple. The complex is one of the 4 holy sites that are related to the life of Lord Buddha – especially the attainment of enlightenment. The complex’s present day temples can be traced to 5th or 6th centuries. They are entirely built in bricks. They are associated to the Gupta period.

Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple Complex was first established in 3rd century BC when Emperor Asoka built the first temple. The complex is one of the 4 holy sites that are related to the life of Lord Buddha – especially the attainment of enlightenment. The complex’s present day temples can be traced to 5th or 6th centuries. They are entirely built in bricks. They are associated to the Gupta period.

History

  • 531 BC – Buddha is said to have attained the supreme and perfect insight when sitted under a Bodhi tree in the site where the Temple Complex sits
  • 260 BC – Emperor Asoka mad a pilgrimage to the site and built a temple on the site of the Bodhi tree.

Note that the Mahabodhi Temple Complex is nestled at the heart of the city of Bodh Gaya and consists of a main temple and 6 other sacred places. On the outside of the enclosure is a seventh sacred place known as the Lotus Pond.

Sacred Places

  • Bodhi Tree - Of the sacred places, the most important is the giant Bodhi Tree which is located to the west of the main temple. It is said to be a direct descendant of the Bodhi Tree under which Buddha spent his First Week after attaining his enlightenment.
  • Prayer Hall – This is also referred to as the Animeshlochan Chaitya and is located on the north of the central path. It is said to be where Buddha spent his Second Week.
  • Jeweled Ambulatory – Also referred to as the Ratnachakrama, it is located on the northern wall of the main temple and it is where Buddha spent his Third Week walking 18 steps back and forth
  • Ratnaghar – This is where Buddha spent his Fourth Week. It is located to the north east near the enclosure.
  • Ajapala Nigrodh Tree – At this place, Buddha spent his Fifth Week meditating and answering the questions of the Brahmins
  • Lotus Pond – His Sixth Week was spent next to Lotus Pond to the south of the Enclosure
  • Rajyatana Tree – This was the place he spent the Seventh Week. Today, it is marked by a tree.

You will have to visit the Mahabodha site to know how the place looks like. The Main Temple is a masterpiece that showcases the best of Buddhism architectural creativity. Whether you are a Buddhist or not, you will find this place interesting to visit.

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