Bodh Gaya: The City of Sanctum Sanctorums
Bodh Gaya or Bodhgaya is a religious place in the Gaya district in the state of Bihar in India. This is an immensely important place for Buddhists and Hindus since Gautama Buddha Attained nirvana (enlightenment) here. Thousands of people from India and all over the world visit this place for pilgrimage and for enjoying the sight of beautiful temples that are located here. The city was named Bodh Gaya in the eighteenth century before which it used to be called Bodhimandha-Vihara.
Although Bodh Gaya is a religious place, the city itself is polluted and noisy since it is always teeming with pilgrims. The Falgu River runs through the city of Gaya and here on the banks of this river, Gautama Siddhartha attained nirvana after meditating. This is the birthplace of Buddhism and remained unscathed till the 13th century when it was desecrated by Turkish invaders.
Bodh Gaya Attractions
This is a Buddhist temple where Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, attained enlightenment or nirvana. 250 years later, Emperor Ashoka visited this place and established this shrine which is now one of the earliest temples in India which is built entirely in brick that still stands. The place was conquered by Turkish invaders and the Mahabodhi temple was mostly abandoned in the 13th century. However it was later repaired and restored in the 1880’s by Alexander Cunningham.
The architectural style of the Mahabodhi Temple is truly unique since it is one of the oldest brick temples in India; however it underwent heavy restoration in the 19th century. The central tower of the temple is 55 meters tall and there are four smaller towers that surround the central edifice. The surroundings of the temple are made by using stone railings; some are granite while others are sandstone. Carvings of Hindu gods and goddesses such as Laxmi, the goddess of wealth being bathed by elephants adorn these stones. The temple also contains carvings of lotuses and the newer railings have carvings of Garudas (eagles).
Gaya is a city located in the Gaya district near Bodh Gaya and is considered to be one of the holy places by Hindus as well as Buddhists. The city has numerous shrines and temples and many pilgrims visit the city along with a tour to Bodh Gaya. Located about 100 kilometers from the capital city of the state of Bihar, this place is also situated on the banks of the Falgu River which is considered holy by Hindus.
Mangala Gauri Temple
This temple is dedicated to the Goddess Shakti and is worshipped as the goddess of benevolence. The temple dates back to the 15th century and is also considered to be a symbol of nourishment by Hindus. This eastern faced temple is accessible by road as well as a flight of steps and has ancient carved scriptures. Located in the sanctum of the temple is the image of the goddess and the courtyard has a pit of fire for rituals and ceremonies.
Shrine of Hazrat Makhdoom Syed Shah Durwesh Ashraf Also known as Bitho sharif, this shrine is dedicated to a Sufi saint named Makhdoom Syed Shah Durwesh Ashraf who settled here. Many Muslims and people of other faiths visit this place every year and Urs (Islamic festival) of Hazrat Makhdoom Durwesh Ashraf is celebrated every year from 10th-12th of Islamic month of Shabaan.
Bodh Gaya and Gaya are the most important sites for Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim pilgrims. However this place is largely renowned for the birth of Buddhism and there are many monuments, temples, and statues belonging to the Buddhist religion that can be found here. Both Gaya as well as Gaya are small towns but have great religious significance that has given birth to numerous religious architectural wonders that adorn these townships.