Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous for being the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhi mandala).
About Mahabodhi Temple:
The Mahabodhi Temple is a Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, the location where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment. Bodh Gaya (located in Gaya district) is located about 96 km (60 mi) from Patna, Bihar state, India. Next to the temple, to its western side, is the holy Bodhi tree. In the Pali Canon, the site is called Bodhimanda, and the monastery there the Bodhimanda Vihara. The tallest tower is 55 metres (180 ft) tall. The construction uses the styles of Dravidian Architecture, as opposed to Nagara Temple styles.
The place-name, Bodh Gaya, did not come into use until the 18th century CE. Historically, it was known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi.
The main monastery of Bodh Gaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vihāra (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple.
For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The surrounding town, by contrast, is dusty and somewhat noisy.
A new development plan has been proposed to “ensure a sustainable and prosperous future” for Bodh Gaya, but has become controversial because such a plan may require the relocation of whole neighborhoods.
According to Buddhist traditions, circa 500 BC Prince Gautama Siddhartha, wandering as an ascetic, reached the sylvan banks of the Phalgu, near the city of Gaya. There he sat in meditation under a Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa). After three days and three nights of meditation, Siddhartha claimed to have attained enlightenment and insight, and the answers that he had sought. He then spent seven weeks at seven different spots in the vicinity meditating and considering his experience. After seven weeks, he travelled to Sarnath, where he began teaching Buddhism.
Disciples of Gautama Siddhartha began to visit the place during the full moon in the month of Vaisakh (April–May), as per the Hindu calendar. Over time, the place became known as Bodh Gaya, the day of enlightenment as Buddha Purnima, and the tree as the Bodhi Tree.
The history of Bodh Gaya is documented by many inscriptions and pilgrimage accounts. Foremost among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the 5th century and Xuanzang in the 7th century. The area was at the heart of a Buddhist civilization for centuries, until it was conquered by Turkic armies in the 13th century.
By Road: Bodhgaya is about 12 km from Gaya City. The NH83 Highway connects Gaya and Bodhgaya.
By Air: 7 kilometers from Bodhgaya is the Gaya International Airport, also known as Bodh Gaya International Airport.