Mahabodhi Temple Bodh Gaya

Mahabodhi Temple Bodh Gaya
Vital Information for Visitors

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya, Bihar.

Open & Close:

Open on all days
05:00 AM – 12:00 PM
04:00 PM – 09:00 PM

Rituals & Timings:

Sutta chanting and meditation (5:30 AM- 6:00 AM)
Kheer Offering (10:00 AM)
Mahayana Sutta Chanting (6:00 PM – 6:30 PM)
Sutta Chanting in Pali (6:30 PM – 7:00 PM)

Entry Fees:



1-2 Hour


Most sacred Buddhist temple & Bo Tree where Lord Buddha meditated

Bodh Gaya in Bihar is the cradle of one of the world’s great religions — the Mecca of Buddhism. In this sacred spot Gautama sat beneath the Bo tree and attained Enlightenment. Twenty-five centuries ago a once-worldly prince here vanquished all worldly desires: since then the place has been a center of worship. Does not that in itself proves that Bodh Gaya also has something to say to men of any religion on vanity and pride? In the first centuries after the Buddha’s death, stately shrines were elevated all around Bodh Gaya: relatively few remain and many have been restored, but the Mahabodhi Temple was probably in its present form over a thousand years ago. The whole setting of Bodh Gaya prepares the visitor for a feeling of other-worldliness. It is a spot of wooded solitude on the banks of the Niranjana River silhouetted against a range of low hills.

The shrine at Bodh Gaya is the only surviving example of the type of Mahayana Buddhist architecture that flourished in the Gangetic region during the first millennium. During the early period of Mauryan rule (400 B.C.), wood constituted the chief building material. This period was followed by an important phase of building in brick and it is to this phase that the temple of Bodh Gaya belongs. As it stands today, this temple gives but a poor idea of what its original design must have been, for its falling walls have been reinforced and restored numerous times through the years. Entrance to the shrine is through the East Gate, a typical Buddhist carved torana (तोरण - archway). Then the great Mahabodhi looms up — harmonious and peaceful like the teachings of the Master.

The building consists of a plinth on which rests a square pyramidal tower, 180 feet from the ground. Surrounding the tower at its base is a two-tiered colonnaded structure supporting four smaller turrets exactly like their majestic central counterpart. Thus, the shrine corresponds to a ‘panchayatana’ (पंचायतन) Hindu temple. The regular, abstract carved decoration which relieves the faces of the tower without turning the eye away from the essential contributes to an overall impression of poise and balance. The Mahabodhi has been faithfully restored and is substantially the same temple that existed in the 7th century if not earlier. The north side is flanked by the “jewel shrine of the Walk”, a raised platform with its carved lotus flowers. Passing from this promenade to the western facade you reach the sacred Bo tree. All the trees which have been planted here during twenty-five centuries are supposed to have come from saplings of the first. Beneath it is the sacred seat. To the south and west of the temple are 8-foot high railings ascribed to Asoka, the great emperor who was for Buddhism what Constantine was for Christianity. The carvings on the Ashokan railings tell Buddhist stories and add fabulous creatures and scenes from everyday life for good measure. These railings rank as one of the most ancient remains in India. Also to the south is the tranquil lotus pond where the Teacher bathed.

The front of the building has a large niche in which an impressive image of the preaching Buddha is enshrined. The image must originally have been approached by a tall flight of steps. In an upper chamber is the statue of the Master’s mother Maya Devi. In the temple courtyard are graceful stupas which are the Buddhist equivalent of Christian reliquaries. The entire structure is enclosed within a railing entered through an arched gateway or torana. Within the courtyard there is an Ashokan lion pillar on each side of which is a colossal Yaksha figure.

Thousands of tiny yellow lamps give the Mahabodhi a new dimension as cymbals and drums sound and the monks chant their litanies. The message of Buddha comes echoing through time’s long corridor to us: “If thou wouldst worship in the noblest way, bring flowers in thy hand. Their names are these: Contentment, Peace, and Justice.”

Such sanctuaries or viharas were once so numerous in the Gangetic region that they are believed to have given Magadha the name of Bihar. The almost complete disappearance of these vast sanctuaries is to be attributed partly to the fact that the building materials used were not durable enough for the severe climate of this region, but mainly to the decline of Buddhism which was responsible for the desertion and subsequent dilapidation of these monasteries. When the dynasties that were patrons of Buddhism went into decline, Buddhism declined too. During the 12th century, Bodh Gaya and the nearby regions were invaded by Muslim armies. The Mahabodhi Temple fell into disrepair and was largely abandoned. During the 16th century, a Hindu monastery was established near Bodh Gaya and the monasteries abbot claimed ownership of the Mahabodhi Temple grounds.

Restoration of the Mahabodhi Temple began in 1880 AD under the direction of Sir Alexander Cunningham. Later, control of Mahabodhi Temple passed from the Hindu monks to the state government of Bihar. A temple management committee was formed, consisting of both Hindus and Buddhists and it is they who keep Mahabodhi Temple functioning smoothly now.

Bodh Gaya Tour Packages

Varanasi Gaya Prayagraj Pind Daan Tour

Varanasi Gaya Prayagraj Pind Daan Tour

4 Nights / 5 Days
Destination : Varanasi - Gaya - Bodh Gaya - Prayagraj

East India with Nepal Tour

East India with Nepal Tour

13 Nights / 14 Days
Destination : Delhi- Khajuraho – Varanasi – Bodhgaya –Bhubaneswar –Puri – Konark – Kolkata – Kathmandu –Bhaktpur - Patan

Footsteps of Buddha Tour

Footsteps of Buddha Tour

10 Nights / 11 Days
Destination : Delhi - Agra - Lucknow - Sravasti - Lumbini (Nepal) - Kushinagar - Vaishali - Patna - Rajgir - Nalanda - Bodhgaya - Varanasi

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