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Temples in East India >> Bihar >> Bodhgaya

Under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, Prince Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. This is the holiest of Shrines for Buddhists. The Mahabodhi temple, is where Emperor Ashoka, a convert, erected a shrine near the Bodhi tree. This is a 54 m high pyramidal spire with a square cross-section and four smaller spires. There is a gilded image of the Buddha, signifying enlightenment. There is an ornately carved stone railing, believed to have been erected by Ashoka. There is the Vajrasila, a red sandstone slab, under the tree, where Gautama meditated. There are now many temples from various countries in Bodh Gaya - the Japanese, with Gold images of the Buddha, the Tibetan complex, the Bhutan Temple, Thai, and the Chinese, which has an enormous, revolving prayer drum

Access: It is 184 kms from Patna & is connected by road.

This contains the ruins of the world's oldest university. This was also a place where the Buddha and Mahavira stayed and preached. The remains of 11 monasteries and several Chaityas, built over a period of time, in red brick stone have been excavated, as well as a large stairway, a library, lecture halls, dormitories, cells, ovens and wells. Buildings were multi-storied and multi-tiered, built on massive terraces of solid brick, decorated with Buddhist and Hindu divinities and warriors, dancers, musicians, animals and birds.

Access: it is well connected by road to Patna.


A sacred place for both the Buddhists and Jains. There is Gridhakuta, where the Buddha, converted a Magadhan King. Also worth visiting is Saptaparni Cave, where the first Buddhist council was held. The Pippala Stone House or Machan is a huge structure, with cells around it. At Maniyar Math is an old Jain Shrine. Then there is Venuvara, the bamboo grove, where the Buddha meditated. The Jivakamanana Monastery is of interest, since it was one of the Buddha's favourite retreat.


The architecture of this temple is unparalleled in North India. It is believed that in the 3rd century B.C emperor Ashoka built this temple. The canopy structure of this temple is very different and attractive from temples usually found in North India. To maintain the balance of the main tower there are four smaller towers.

The king of Lanka, Meghvarn had constructed a monastery towards the North of the Bodhi tree. This construction was done during the period of Samudragupta. In the 12th century the fierce attack of the Muslim invaders had destroyed the temple completely.

In 1876 the ruler of Burma in agreement with the British government of India had rebuilt the temple on the remains of the older structure. The Mahabodhi temple has a huge Idol of Buddha in the 'bhumisparsa mudra'. The temple is surrounded by a small pillars and delicate lattice work. These are a major attraction for the tourist who visit the place