A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mahabodhi Temple is located in Bodhgaya, 96 km from Patna (Bihar state). This Buddhist Temple is one of the popular sacred sites of India as it is the place where Siddhartha Gautama (Lord Buddha), attained enlightenment. After all, it was here, under a banyan tree, the Bodhi Tree, that Gautama Buddha attained supreme knowledge to become “Buddha”, the enlightened one.
Mahabodhi Temple, which stands in the east to the Bodhi Tree,is the star attraction of Bodhgaya and pilgrims from all over the world visit the temple to seek the blessings of Lord Buddha. The temple complex is extremely beautiful and features Dravidian style of architecture. It is best known for housing a large image of Lord Buddha in the bhumisparsha mudra (‘earth-touching posture’). Standing at a height of 170ft, it’s adorned on the top with “Chatras” symbolizing sovereignty of religion. The temple is believed to have been built during 1st century BCE.
Inside the temple, one can find structures and stupas which speak of the time when Buddha spent seven weeks at this place after attaining enlightenment. There is also a colossal image of the Buddha in sitting posture, touching the earth with his right hand. The stupas present in the courtyard can be traced back to 2,500yrs.
The Sacred Bodhi Tree
It is believed that Lord Buddha, attained enlightenment while he was meditating under the Bodhi Tree. This is why, Bodhi Tree holds immense importance in the lives of the devotees of Lord Buddha. The tree is connected to the historical life of Buddha.
As per the Jatakas, the location of Bodhi Tree is where the navel of the earth is situated. It is believed that no other place on this earth can support the weight of Buddha’s enlightenment. However, the present Bodhi tree is believed to be the fifth succession of the original Mahabodhi tree.
The Seat of Buddha: Vajrasana
Vajrasana or the Diamond Throne is the seat of the Lord Buddha’s Enlightenment. Made up of red sandstone, this seat of Buddha was built back during 3rd century B.C. by Emperor Asoka. It is believed that all the incarnations of Buddha attained Enlightenment at this spot and his future incarnation will also attain enlightenment at this spot.
History of Mahabodhi Temple
The history of Mahabodhi Temple is around 2500yrs old. During 6th century B.C, Buddha attained enlightenment. Soon after, emperor Ashoka built the Vajrasana (diamond throne) to commemorate the event.
The original structure of Mahabodhi temple was completed in 7th century A.D., during the reign of Gupta kings. Post-construction, the temple underwent a number of renovations. Large parts of the temple were destroyed by Muslim rulers during 11th century.