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Bodhgaya is a pilgrimage hub and religious site located in Bihar of East India. Reckoned for being the place where Lord Buddha obtained Enlightment, Bodhgaya also know as Gaya attracted many Buddhist pilgrims towards it. Among four other pilgrimage sites which are located around the world, Bodhgaya is known to be the most revered pilgrimage site. Flanked along the banks of Lilanjan River Bodhgaya is blessed with abundance of nature. Whether for religious belief or scenic landscape Bodhgaya has become one of the most visited destinations of India. Every year during the auspicious day of Kalchakra, HH the 16th Dalai Lama comes to Bodhgaya to spread the word of wisdom to the devotees and tourists. There are many religious and historical significant sites in Bodhgaya which has hyped the interest of travelers.
Founded in 7th century, Mahabodhi Temple is one of the most famous religious sites of Bodhgaya. Declared as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Mahabodhi Temple is dedicated to Lord Buddha. The pyramidal structure with a cylindrical top of Mahabodhi Temple has become the unspoken landmark of Bodhgaya. Apart from attracting Buddhist pilgrims, Mahabodhi Temple of Bodhgaya is considered to be an important religious site for Hindu as they believe that Lord Buddha is the 9th reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Within the colossal structure of Mahabodhi Temple visitors can also find 9th century Shivalingam. On the southern premises of Mahabodhi Temple visitors can find the sacred Bodhi Tree. The tree is said to be the 5th generation of Bodhi Tree where Lord Buddha obtained enlightment.
Flanked along the banks of Falgu River is Vishnupad Temple an ancient shrine in Bodhgaya. This historic temple is said to be constructed on the footprint of Lord Vishnu, hence the name Vishnupad Temple. Along with displaying Lord Vishu’s footprint, visitors can also see the figurine of different deities in Vishnupad Temple. Visitors will find that eastern side of Vishnupad Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Although founded in 15th century the current structure of Vishnupad Temple was reconstructed in 1787 by Rani Ahilya Bai, the queen of Indore.
Bodhgaya Archeological Museum, established in 1956 is a museum of Bodhgaya. It is situated close to Mahabodhi Temple. Bodhgaya Archeological Museum has two galleries which is famous for housing sacred relics and bronze and stone sculpture of Lord Buddha dating back to 8th century. Along with displaying the coins from Mughal era the main highlighting features of Bodhgaya Archeological Museum, are the magnificent idols of Lord Buddha in abhayamudra position and varaha avatar of Lord Vishnu. This museum also houses the 2000 yrs old sandstone and granite pillars of Mahabodhi Temple. With its astounding collection Bodhgaya Archeological Museum attracts historian and archeologist from far and wide.
Bodhgaya Archeological Museum Timings: 10:00am to 5:00 pm (Closed on Fridays)
Entry fee of Bodhgaya Archeological Museum: Rs 2
Decked with colorful prayer flags next to Mahabodhi Temple is Muchalinda Lake. It is another sacred destination of Bodhgaya. Muchalinda Lake is an important site for Buddhist pilgrims. According to Buddhist Mythology, Muchalinda was the name of King of Nag who protected Lord Buddha from a raging storm with its hood. Amidst the serene lake visitors can see an idol erected depicting the astounding legend of Muchalinda and Lord Buddha. Apart from its religious significance Muchalinda Lake is famous for being a nature bound destination.
Dating back to Maurya Dynasty the Barabar Caves of Bodhgaya are the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India. Barabar Caves is made by comprising 4 caves. Located at a distance of 24km from Mahabodhi Temple of Bodhgaya, most of the caves of Barabar have two chambers which are finely polished and engraved with granite. The influence of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist religion in Barabar Caves of Bodhgaya can be seen from the carving and sculpture found in the caves. The carvings in one of the chambers of Barabar Caves depict the growth and evolution of Buddhist religion. Geologist, historian, and archeologist from far and wide are attracted towards this oldest rock cut caves of Barabar making it one the most famous tourist attraction of Bodhgaya.
How to reach Bodhgaya: One of the easiest ways to reach Bodhgaya is by boarding a train for Bodhgaya. The railway of Bodhgaya is well connected with the major cities of India like Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai. If visitors are travelling through air route they need to board a flight for Patna. The distance between Patna to Bodhgaya is 110km. Patna is also well connected with the state bus network.
Best time to visit Bodhgaya: Being a religious hub, visitors, scholar and pilgrims can be seen visiting Bodhgaya throughout the year. Irrespective of hot weather during the auspicious day of Buddha Jayanti, Bodhgaya is flooding with the horde of devotes. But the best time to visit Bodhgaya is in winter season (November to March). During this season the weather of Bodhgaya is most pleasant, which is ideal for exploring the sacred religious site of Bodhgaya.