Spiritual India :
It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing in India, from the late Gupta period.
For the followers of the Buddhist faith from all over the world, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, and venerate it as the holiest place of Buddhist pilgrimage in the world.
Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha-to-be, was born as a prince in 563 BC in what is now Nepal, renounced his family at the age of 29 and travelled and meditated in search of the truth. After practicing self-mortification on the banks of the Nairanjana River with five ascetic followers for six years at Urubela, and realising that austerities could not lead to realisation he abandoned them. His five ascetic companions disgusted at his seeming failure, deserted him and left for Sarnath. He then moved towards the village of Senani where he was offered rice milk by a Brahmin girl, Sujata. He took a seat under a pipal tree facing east and decided not to rise again until enlightenment was attained.
He discovered the Noble Path (the Middle Way), practiced it and attained enlightenment.
For seven days after the Enlightenment, the Buddha continued to meditate under the Bodhi tree without moving from his seat and stayed in that area meditating around for the next 7 weeks.
The five ascetic men who had been his companions and abandoned him, became the Buddha's first disciples in Deer Park, Sarnath, where he gave his first sermon.
It is believed that about 280 years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya and built the first Mahabodhi temple in the 3rd century B.C. and the present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries. The architecture of the Temple has remained essentially unaltered and follows the original form and design.
The place got several names like Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi. Over time, in the 18th century, finally became known as Bodh Gaya and the tree as the Bodhi Tree. The present tree is considered only as the descendant of the original tree. Many sacred trees in India and other countries are originally raised from seeds brought from the ancient Bodh Gaya tree. A shoot of the original Bodhi tree was taken to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, daughter of Ashoka.
The area was at the heart of a Buddhist civilization for centuries, until it was conquered by Turkic armies in the 13th century.
With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and forgotten, buried under layers of soil. The temple was later restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham in the late 19th century.
The statue of Buddha in the Chinese temple is 200 years old and was brought from China.
Next to the Thai temple is 25-metre statue of Buddha located within a garden which has existed there for over 100 years.
The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is visited continuously by pilgrims from all over the world to offer prayers, perform religious ceremonies and meditate.
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