Bodh Gaya - Buddhist Pilgrimage Site
Bodhgaya or Bodh Gaya is a famous religious & pilgrimage site in Gaya district of Bihar state in India. It is the sacred place for followers & devotees of Buddhist religion. Famous Mahabodhi temple complex and Bodhi tree (Ficus religiosa) is located here. In past it is know by the name like Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana and its latest & final name is Bodhgaya. It is said that Siddhartha visited this place before attaining enlightenment in year 500 BC. He sat under Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa) for continuous seven days under meditation till he attained supreme enlightenment. It is about 95kms from Patna city of Bihar state and 250kms from Varanasi & Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh state. Here at the place where Siddhartha attained enlightenment and became Buddha, a temple was made called Mahabodhi Temple and that Pipal Tree now known with the name of Bodhi Tree. In year 2002, Mahabodhi temple was declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bodhgaya is one among 4 main Buddhist sites. Other 3 sites are Lumbini (birth place of Lord Buddha), Sarnath (Buddha gave first sermon) & Kushinagar (here Buddha died).
Bodh Gaya History
It is the year 500 B.C. when Siddhartha reached Uruvela (today’s Bodhgaya) and looked around the area, he found it meditate place to meditate on the bank of Falgu river. He find the ideal place under Sacred fig tree and spend 03 days & 03 nights under meditation. We he woke up, he turned from Siddhartha to Gutama Buddha. He has attained supreme enlightenment. It was full moon night of summer month which is now a day celebrated as “Buddha Poornima” in India. Buddha spent the next 7 weeks near Uruvela to experience the bliss of enlightenment. After that Buddha left the place for Sarnath located about 250 kms from Bodhgaya near Varanasi city. After some months Buddha returned back to Uruvela to spend some time. Later there is no evidence of re-visit by Buddha. But as teaching of lord Buddha spread in the region, his followers became curious to visit the place where their master has attained enlightenment. This made Uruvela popular and visited for hundreds of his followers. This made the place popular by the name of Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi in 2nd B.C. Later being its nearness from Gaya town people begin to called it as Bodhgaya. It became popular in later 18th century.
Pilgrimage to this holy place is going on since many centuries from all over the world. There are evidence of a Sri Lankan monk Bodhiraksite coming to Bodh Gaya in 1st century B.C. Later visitors came from Sumatra, Kazakhstan, China, Vietnam, Tibet etc. It is said that approx. after 250 years from Buddha’s enlightenment, famous Maurya Dynasty Emperor Ashoka visited the place and laid down the foundation of Mahabodhi temple in eastern side of Bodhi Tree. In later part of his life he became follower of Buddhism. Here he built the diamond throne called Vajrasana to mark the exact spot where Buddha attained enlightenment. First temple built by Emperor Asoka in 3rd B.C. where as current temple dates back to 5th & 6th Centuries. During this long time Bodh gaya faces many ups & downs. It was attacked by White hun and Arab Islamic invaders like Muhammad Bin Qasim causing decline of Buddhism in region but later in 8th to 12th century, under Palas ruling Buddhism (Mahayana) again revived and flourished. With the attack of Muslim Turk army in 13th century, Buddhism again faced major setback. Mahabodhi Temple fell into disrepair and abandoned for long time. In year 1877, King of Burma (today’s Mayanmar) took permission to do restoration work and sent a team of craftsmen. Being ignorant of original archeology of Temple, they did enormous damage to the temple. Due to immaturity, they destroyed many historical evidences about the temple’s history. Its real upliftment was done in 1880 when then-British government of India began its restoration work under the direction of Sir Alexander Cunningham who was Director General of Archeological Survey. It was one of the major step in survival of this historical temple. Later it remained under control of powerful & rich Hindu Mahantas of Bihar who used it to worship Hindu Gods & Goddesses. After a long struggle for possession by Mahabodhi society, in year 1949 Bodh Gaya Act was passed to setup committee of 04 Hindu & 04 Buddhists to manage the affairs of Temple.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to Bodhgaya is Gaya airport at 16kms from temple and Patna Airport at 100kms from site.
The Ooty railway station is only 2 km from the heart of the city and the nearest broad gauge ailway station is about 46 km away at Mettupalayam. The locale is directly connected to Coimbatore and Chennai.
With Tamilnadu having a good road network, Ooty is well connected by good motorable road. There are regular bus services connecting Ooty to Coimbatore, Trichy, Bangalore, Madurai, Kanniya Kumari, Mysore, Palghat, Calicut and Tirupati. The road route to follow is SH 17 to Bandipur. From Bandipur which segues to the Mudumalai Reserve which is very close to Ooty.
Places to see in Ooty -
Botanical Gardens: A must visit when you are on a sight seeing tour. Sprawled over an area of 50 acres, the garden lies on the lower slopes of Dodabetta peak. Botanical garden was laid out in 1847 and is home to 650 species of plants and trees. Don’t forget to take a look at the 20 million old fossil of a tree. The famous summer festival is held here a very year. The garden is a wonderful place for taking a walk among the greenery.
Government Museum: Set up in 1989, the museum is home to some tribal objects, sculptures, arts and crafts and ecological details of the district. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Ooty.
Ooty Lake: It is a favorite haunt for tourists. The Lake is an ideal place for boating, fishing and picnics. Paddle boats and rowing boats are also available here. It has the tallest memorial of Ooty, a pillar surmounted by a cross.
Dodabetta Peak: With an altitude of 2623 meters, it is the highest peak in Tamil Nadu and the best vantage point in Ooty. A motor road takes you to the top of the peak.
Lamb’s rock: It is an ideal picnic spot and offers stupendous views of the Coimbatore plains and the tea estates.
Madumalai wildlife sanctuary: An ideal place for excursion, the park is home to some of the rarest animals some of them being tigers, leopards, sambhar, barking deer and flying squirrel. The sanctuary boasts of rich flora. Some birds commonly seen here are parakeets, crested hawk, Malabar trogon, eagle and black woodpecker.
Kotagiri: The small village is the center of tea gardens and is known for its tranquil beauty.
Kalhatty waterfalls: The beautiful waterfalls are about 100 feet high and ideal for trekking