Buddha attained his enlightenment in Bodh Gaya. Therefore Bodh Gaya is a pilgrimage site, which is very important in the Buddhism’s history. Bodhgaya is situated in Bihar’s Gaya district. The site of pilgrimage has association with the complex at Mahabodhi Temple. Its previous name was Bodhimanda whose meaning is Bodhi tree underground. Sambodhi, Vajrasana, Uruvela, and Mahabodhi are different names of it. UNESCO undertook Bodhgaya’s Mahabodhi temple in 2002. This site became UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Gautam Siddhartha who was son of the king namely Suddodhana came to this place in 500 BC. He came here to find the ways of getting knowledge(Nirvana). All religions dissatisfied him. He came to Falgu river bank near Gaya. He sat down in the shade of a tree. He then meditated for three nights and three days. After this period of time he got enlightenment. Then he found answers to the questions that were worrying him and were going on in his mind. After a period of seven weeks the enlightened Buddha reached to the place named Sarnath, he then started to teach Buddhism to the masses.
Ashoka, the Mauryan Emperor, built under Bodhi tree a temple in 3rd century BC. An enlightenment throne which was decorated with Huvishka and Kushana coins were found in this temple.
There is a belief, that 250 years after Buddha’s enlightenment, Asoka the Mauryan Emperor, made visits to Bodh Gaya and then he created the Mahabodhi Temple. It is a belief that this temple was created in Kushana period. The temple was deteriorated in shape and size and it went down to soil and sand with Buddhism’s decline. Asiatic society and Sir Alexander Cunningham found all this and restored the temple. With this onset the Bodhgaya’s Glory returned. Therefore, Mahabodhi Temple of Bihar (Bodhgaya) once again became a pilgrim site of Buddhist people. So it is very important now-a-days.
According to Hindu calendar, Vaishakh full moon day is commemorated as Buddha Poornima. On this day Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. So it is a tradition to go to Bihar (Bodhgaya) on Buddha poornima or Vaishakh poornima and celebrate this occasion with pomp and splendour.
Development Corporation of Bihar State Tourism provides complete facility of travelling from Patna to Bodhgaya. The complete Buddha circuit can be visited. Apart from these bus facilities, train facilities are also available from all cities to Bodhgaya at Bihar. Presence of autos and other vehicles are also available like internal transport. Bodhgaya airport is also present 5km away from Gaya.
Mahabodhi temple is a tourist place at par excellence. It ranks among the ten best attractions for tourist in India and around the globe. Bodhgaya has many beautiful temples of Buddhist origin built by many foreign countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka and Japan which attract visitors who have religious inclinations. Mahabodhi Temple is a leading centre of pilgrimage.
The five Buddhist sites which are most important are Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Shravasti and Kushinagar.
- Lumbini- Place of birth of Buddha – The places like The Ashokan Pillar, The Buddhist Temple, Maya Devi Temple, Sanctum-Sanctorum of Birthplace, The China temple and Pushkari , lets the Buddhist people in understanding the religion better.
- Bodhgaya- Place of Enlightenment of Buddha – Important places are Mahabodhi Tree, Mahabodhi Temple, Thai Monastery, The Japanese Monastery, The Chinese Temple Monastery and The Tibetan Monastery.
- Sarnath- Deer Park- First Sermon – After attainment of Nirvana, Lord Buddha had given his first sermon here.
- Shravasti- In Shravasti Lord Buddha had given many preachings. Shravasti is located 150 km from Lucknow. This Shravasti is favourite place where Lord Buddha gave his rainy season preachings in the Grove. Performance of first miracle was done by Lord Buddha in this Shravasti.
- Kushinagar- Place of death of Lord Buddha – Kushinagar is located in eastern Uttar Pradesh near Gorakhpur. Here his mortal remains were kept and were distributed by king Ashoka.