Prince Gautama achieved enlightenment in this sacred place under the Bodhi or Asvatta tree some 2500 years ago and came to be known as Lord Buddha. Bodhgaya is counted as one of the major Buddhist pilgrimage centres apart from the other three viz, Lumbini where his highness had taken birth, Sarnath the place of the first lecture near Varanasi, and finally the place of his death at Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur. The surroundings of Bodhgaya are all filled with temples and even the Tibetan pilgrims are seen coming for worship in the winters. The temple in Bodhgaya is made on a square platform, with four pillars around each corner. The 1700 years old image of Buddha inside the temple is in the Marshallings Audra touching the groundwater. Tourists from all over the world travel Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation or to simply pay homage to Lord Buddha. Bodhgaya is situated in the state of Bihar that takes pride for being the gateway to the places of Buddhist importance like Nalanda and Vaishali. The place is located about 13 km from Gaya and around 450 km west of Calcutta, and 90 km south of Patna.
The temple is located at the same place at which Lord Buddha got enlightenment. It consists of a tower 179 ft in height. To the inner side of the sanctum, there is a statue of Lord Buddha and a Siva linga to the centre of the temple. The temple is also considered sacred to the Hindus since it was believed that Lord Buddha was the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
The place of Bodhgaya is so special to the Hindus that if the last rites are offered to the ‘Akshayabat’ or immortal banyan tree, in the yard of Vishnupad temple it is believed that the soul of the dead reaches heaven. The temple is believed to be standing on the site of a shrine, erected by Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C.
Considered to be a descendent of the tree under which Lord Gautam took enlightenment, it lies beside a red sandstone slab that is thought to be the Vajrasana or the diamond throne on which Buddha sat during his period of attaining nirvana. The tree located behind the temple is of 80 feet in height and around 115 years old. It is the place where the ten commandments had spread far and wide throughout the world.
The Tibetan monastery houses the massive Dharma Chakra or the wheel of law. The monks at these places give vital discourses leading to purification of the mind and heart according to the principles laid down in the Buddhist scriptures.