There is no path to Happiness: Happiness is the path.- Buddha
We wanted to visit Bodhgaya since a long time and finally a month back we visited Bodhgaya and Rajgir. Bodhgaya is a tiny little town, located in the Gaya district of Bihar, India where Gautam Buddha got enlightenment under a Banyan (Peepal) Tree over 2500 years ago. Every year thousands of Buddhists from all over the world make a pilgrimage to this small place to pray, meditate and pay homage. When we went it was raining, we first visited Rajgir and then Bodhgaya and it was just three days trip. First day we visited Rajgir and other two days we spent in Bodhgaya.
How to reach
1. Gaya International Airport connects many Asian countries, so international travelers can opt for direct flight and the distance between Gaya airport to Bodhgaya is around 10km, can be easily reached by cab.
2. For Indians, book flight to Patna and for international travelers, they can book a flight to Delhi and then Patna (Jai Prakash Narayan Airport, Patna). You can book a cab from Patna airport to Bodhgaya, distance between these places is 115 km.
3. Book a flight for Birsa Munda Airport, Ranchi and then take a cab or bus from there. Distance between these places is 217 km.
* You can easily find many trains from all parts of India to Gaya, Patna and Ranchi. From Railway station, book a cab for Bodhgaya and buses are also available.
* This place can be easily reached by car from any part of India. From Ranchi and Patna, many buses are available.
Best time to visit
October – March, but Bodhgaya is an all-year destination. Winters are especially busy and the temple complex is decorated with thousands of marigolds and it looks breathtaking. The monks visit this place in their trademark orange and maroon robes make the town a riot of colour. There are many souvenir shops outside the temple second entry gate and streets outside the Mahabodhi Temple are abuzz with vendors selling flowers, Buddha statues, tibetan thangkas, relics and trinkets.
Places to visit:
1. Mahabodhi Temple – The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment. The first temple was built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C., and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing in India, from the late Gupta period. To read more about this temple, click here. (sourced – UNESCO)
2. The Great Buddha Statue – One of the largest Buddha Statue in India, the statue is 64 ft high in “dhyan mudra” or meditation pose seated on a lotus and was built in 1989 by 14th Dalai Lama, 12000 masons took 7 years to complete it.
3. Royal Bhutan Monastery – This monastery was constructed by the King of Bhutan as a tribute to Lord Buddha. The monastery is decorated and carved with ornamental architectural style and depicts some of the most important instances from the life of Lord Buddha.
4. Wat Thai / Royal Thai Monastery – Wat Thai was built by Thailand Monarch in 1956. The Monastery displays the elegance of Thai architecture, adorned with golden tiles sloping roofs and the exterior is splendid.
5. Metta Buddharam Temple – This is basically a beautiful Thai temple. The architecture is exquisite. There is a huge statue of Buddha in white color in the center of the temple and there are two small temples at the front corners, plated with silver metals.
6. Burmese Vihara Monastery, Daijokyo Buddhist Temple and there are many more monasteries nearby where you can visit.
All these places mentioned above are very near to Mahabodhi temple except Metta Buddharam Temple. You can visit these places by foot or you can hire a E-rikshaw as these places are nearby. Also, monasteries have their guest house where you can stay overnight, they have ac, non-ac rooms, laundry and all other facilities. Generally, they provide free stay and services but do consider donating some amount for their maintenance.
Rajgir, Gehlaur Ghati and Nalanda University are nearby places to visit from Bodhgaya. We visited Rajgir but didn’t able to visit Nalanda as we have less time and it was raining also. The drive from Rajgir to Bodhgaya is mesmerising specially in monsoon. The view of mountains and lush green farmlands were treat to our eyes.
Rajgir – Rajgir is a very scenic place situated in Nalanda district. The place is located in a valley, covered with lush green forest. There is a beautiful Buddha Temple at the peak of the mountain, could be reached by rope way also. Buddha spent many years in Rajgir and also delivered sermons here.
Gehlaur Ghati – This place is also known as Dashrath Manjhi Dwar named on Dashrath Manjhi – the mountain man. He was a poor labourer in Gehlaur village who carved a path 9.1 meters wide and 110 meters long through a hill 7.6 meters using only hammer and chisel. It took him 22 years to make this path and he made it because people either had to climb across this mountain or travel round to gain access to medical care at the nearest town. One day Manjhi’s wife (when pregnant) fell while trying to cross the mountain and eventually died giving birth to a girl, after which Manjhi decided to carve a road through it.
Nalanda University – Nalanda University was the first international residential university in the world, developed under the patronage of the Gupta dynasty. The great library of Nalanda University was so vast that it is reported to have burned for three months after the Mughals set fire to it, sacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site.
What and where to eat
Many food outlets like Dominos, Yo China, CCD etc are there in Bodh Gaya. Also, few good restaurants are located near Sujata Hotel. Do try momos of Tibetan Om Cafe and Shiv Dhaba’s food. And, if you love street food, there are many options available.
Where to stay
There are few luxurious resorts/ hotels and many affordable hotels in Bodhgaya. Monasteries also have their own rest houses, if you are not willing to spend much, you can opt for it. We stayed at Oaks Hotel, will share our experience in the next blog.
Hope you guys found the post informative (few historical facts sourced from internet). Thank you so much for stopping by and reading the post. STAY TUNED for the next…!
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