Bodhgaya is the place where the historical Buddha became enlightened some 2500 years ago. It is currently a place of pilgrimage for people interested in Buddhism.Bodhgaya is one of the sacred places for the Buddhists as well as for the Hindus. Here under the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Budhha, the `Enlighted One'.
"The Buddha once lived here" Lord Buddha the gentle colossus who founded the first universal religion of the world, worked and lived much of his life in Bihar though he was born in Kapilavastu, now in Nepal. Most of the major events of his life, like enlightenment and last sermon happened in Bihar. Significantly. the state’s name originated from ’Vihara’ meaning Buddhist and Jain monasteries, which abounded in Bihar. Though the Buddha was born as a Sakya prince in the Terai foothills of the Himalayas, Buddhism as a religion was really born in Bihar and evolved here through his preaching and the example of his lifestyle of great simplicity, renunciation and empathy for everything living. Perhaps the present day life of trauma and tension reminds us of the other alternative that was always available to us, the Buddha’s way of life, gentle and simple.
Several centuries after Buddha’s passing away, the Maurya emperor Ashoka (234-198 BC) contributed tremendously towards the revival, consolidation and spread of the original religion. It is the monasteries Ashoka built for the Buddhist monks and the pillars erected to commemorate innumerable historical sites associated with the Buddha’s life, mostly intact to this day, that helped scholars and pilgrims alike to trace the life events and preachings of a truly extraordinary man. The Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya, under the Bodhi tree, 10 km from Gaya. the ancient Hindu pilgrimage centre. The tree from the original sapling still stands in the temple premises. It is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centre as Buddhisrn was born here.
The magnificent Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation of many centuries cultures and many heritages that came to pay their homage here. The temple definitely has architecture of the Gupta and later ages, inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7th and 10th century AD. It is perhaps still the same temple Hiuen Tsang visited in 7th century.