Great Buddha Statue
Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum
Chinese Temple and Monastery
Shrine of Hazrat Makhdoom Syed Shah Durwesh Ashraf
Root Institute for Wisdom Culture
Welcome to Gaya,
Gaya is the district in Indian state of Bihar. It is a city of ancient historical and mythological significance. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Bihar. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu River, it is a place sanctified by the Jain, Hindu, Islam and Buddhist religions. It is surrounded by small rocky hills by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings, green areas and narrow bylanes. Gaya finds mention in the great epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata. Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana visited Gaya. In Mahabharata, the place has been identified as Gayapuri.
Bodh Gaya which is located in Gaya is one of the most famous place to visit. It is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrimage center in the world. It was here under a banyan tree, the Bodhi Tree, Gautama attained supreme knowledge to become Buddha, the Enlightened One. Other famous places are Mahabodhi Temple, Vishnupad Temple, Bodhi Tree, Barabar Caves etc.
It was at this place where Lord Buddha spent his fifth week of meditation and gave a sermon on equality and mankind. What now stands here is a pillar where Gautam Buddha had once answered various queries (regarding religion and conduct) of the Brahmins who came to attend his discourse. Erected right in front of the Mahabodhi Temple, entry to this spot is from the eastern gate.
Akshayabat is located in the compound of Vishnupad temple. Akshyavat is a banyan tree, which is believed to be blessed by Sita (wife of Lord Ram) to become immortal and remain green throughout the year.
Located in the north-east direction of the Mahabodhi Temple, it was at this place where Buddha spent his second week of meditation. During these seven days, Buddha looked at the Bodhi Tree continuously without even blinking his eyelid for a second. The place has thus been named Animesh Lochan which means open eyes highlighting the significance of this event in Buddha's life. Another noteworthy attraction here is the Ratnachankrama which is the place between the Bodhi tree and Animesh Lochana Chaitya where he walked.
There is so much to know and learn from the life of Gautam Buddha that the Archaeological Survey of India decided to capture it all and restored it at one place for people to come and witness. The museum has several displays on various Buddha preachings and his ideals. Apart from articles from Gautam Buddha's age, you will also find various artifacts, scriptures, and educational aids that belonged to the ancient universities (to train the students) at this museum.
Baitul Anwar, situated at Gewal Bigha, is one of the famous sightseeing places. Founded by Shah Noorul Huda, it is a famous Khanqah of Ahl-e-Sunnat.
Situated 25 kilometers away from Gaya, Barabar caves are great heritage of Bihar. Numbering four in total these caves go back to the second century BC and were carved during Ashoka period. Historical evidence shows that great Buddhist king Ashok built these caves for Ajivikas. Lomas Rishi cave is the most magnificent which is carved as a thatched hut and has a big chamber inside it. The chamber hall and other walls of the cave have been brightly polished. Ashoka's grandson built other two caves Sudama and Chaupar which are equally magnificent.
Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (pali: bodhi) under what became known as the Bodhi Tree. For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha. The history of Bodh Gaya is documented by many inscriptions and pilgrimage accounts. Foremost among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the 5th century and Xuanzang in the 7th century.
Established in the year 1956, Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum is home to several relics unearthed from this part of the world. Some of the rare collections include sculptures belonging to 1st century BC, antiques and images of Hindu deities and Buddha made of various metals including gold, silver and bronze.
In case you wish to watch (and not see) the significant traces in Buddha's life, this museum will give you a thorough study dating back 2500 years in a more interesting and informative manner, that is in a visual format. The entire show is divided into four sections which are dedicated to different things - 3D animation, historical background, geographical coverage and thoughts of Lord Buddha. You must come here at least once during your visit.
Bodhi Tree is considered sacred by followers of Buddhism as Buddha attained spiritual enlightenment here. The tree, which is situated on the southern side of Mahabodhi temple is not the where Buddha's enlightenment occurred but it is the fifth generation of the original tree. Going by myth, Emperor Ashoka's wife uprooted the original tree, as she was jealous about the devotion of her husband to Buddha. It is believed that after the tree was fell down on his wife's order, he poured milk on the roots of the tree after which it revived. The tree was destroyed again in 600 AD and this time it was by King Sesaka. However, a sapling from the original tree was planted in 620 AD by King Purnavarma.
Brahmayoni Temple, located at a distance of one kilometre to the south-west of the Vishnupad Temple, is one of the major attractions of Gaya. For those visiting the temple need to climb up 424 high stone steps so as to reach the top of the hill. In addition, the temple perched atop a hill offers tourists beautiful views of the city. On the hill where this temple is located, there are two caves, namely, Brahmayoni and Matreyoni along with an ancient temple of Astabhujadevi.
Flanked by a lush-green garden, the Burmese Vihara Monastery in Bodh Gaya is a must visit on your trip to the peaceful city. It boasts of a library which has a rich collection of books (in many languages). What's more, it is also updated with all the basic facilities that you would need in order to imbibe Buddhist teachings. A lot of students and scholars often enroll for spiritual courses that are conducted at Burmese Vihara Monastery. A quick tip here is that it does not charge any fee for any of its courses. Please note that everyone visiting is expected to maintain a proper conduct at the monastery.
A part of the Mahabodhi Temple, it is one of the most sacred shrines in Bodh Baya. Located towards the northern side of the temple lies the pathway which was used by Buddha during Buddha's third week of meditation. It was at this spot that he practiced walking meditation which is also called Cankamana. Surrounding the temple are the spots where he walked and his footsteps have been carved into lotuses (made in black stone). You would often see many monks who chant in the praise of Buddha close to the pathway creating a soothing atmosphere.
Chinese temple is located near Mahabodhi temple. The temple is a pure influence of Chinese architecture. It was built by the government of China and Buddhist monks of China in the year 1945. 200-year-old Buddha statue found in the temple is said to be from China. The temple also houses three golden statues of Buddha. Chinese temple underwent renovation in the year 1997. The travelogues written by Chinese scholars who visited India during various periods give an insight into the culture of the past.
The Daijokyo Buddhist Temple has been constructed on the 2 acres of land allotted by the Government of Bihar. This Temple was inaugurated on Feb. 13, 1983 by the then President of India, His Excellency Giani Zail Singh. The Temple is a two storey concrete building with a three storey pagoda on the top in Japanese style. The Buddha image enshrined inside the Temple is in the meditation posture made of bronze and brought from Japan.
Referred to as Mahakala caves, Dungeshwari Cave temples gain spiritual importance as Buddha spent many years here before he headed towards Gaya and enlightenment. If you are looking to see something interesting inside the caves, may be you will end up being disappointed. On the contrary, if you are looking to see inside you in a soul-searching attempt, this could be the right place. It is a great destination to meditate in a serene atmosphere.
Located around River Phalgu, Dungeshwari Caves are a 15-kilometer drive away from Bodh Gaya. The cave-like structure is surrounded by several shrines and stupas. A visit to this spot is a good break from the city as the drive till Dungeshwari is scenic and pleasant . The legend behind the Dungeshwari Hills says that it was this cave where Lord Buddha stayed for almost 6 years before he headed to the city of Bodh Gaya for seeking enlightenment.
Gaya Pind Daan is a ritual performed by Hindus to free the spirits of their deceased ones, thus liberating them from the bondage of the materialistic world. Hindus across the country throng to Gaya to perform Pind Daan during Pitra Paksha, the day dedicated to ancestors, which is supposed to bring salvation to the departed souls of their ancestors. The rituals are performed on the bank of the Ganga River and prayers are offered for the peace of their souls. It is believed that Lord Rama, along with his brothers, came to Gaya to offer Pind Daan to his father, King Dashratha.
25 meters tall, it is by far the largest and the first Buddha statue ever built in India. Owing to its huge size, it is quite a star-catcher with not just the pilgrims but every tourist in Bodh Gaya. Located right next to the Mahabodhi Temple, this statue was unveiled in the year 1989 by His Holiness Dalai Lama. Bordered by 10 smaller sculptures of Buddha's disciples in the passageway leading to the Great Buddha Statue, the entire visual is a breathtaking sight.
15 kilometers away from the holy city of Bodh Gaya is the Indosan Nippon Japanese Temple. Boasting of intricate wooden carvings, this temple is known for its unique and exquisite Japanese architecture and is a perfect example of Buddhist traditions and culture. Housing beautiful Japanese paintings that trace significant events in Gautam Buddha's life, this temple was built in the year 1972. In order to spread Buddhism, It is believed that the Japanese government funded this shrine in order to spread word about Buddhism and its teachings.
Jama Masjid, located in the heart of Gaya, is the largest mosque in state of Bihar. Dating back around 200 years, this mosque is famous for Shabina and Tabligh. Shabina is the special worship, which is done on 27th night of Ramadan.
The Lilajan River (also known by its older name: Niranjan River and also mentioned as Nilanjan River) flows through the Gaya districts. As Bodh Gaya is on the shores of Lilajan many legends are associated with this river concerning Buddha. It is said that Buddha bathed in the nearby Niranjan (now called Lilajan) River after attaining enlightenment.
Mahabodhi Temple stands tall and proud portraying the architectural splendor of the past. Standing on a 48 square feet tall basement, the structure resembles a pyramid but for its cylindrical top. Belonging to the 7th century, the temple was reconstructed in 1880 and has since had many facelifts. Though the main deity is Lord Buddha, the temple promotes tolerance towards other religions. The Chatras built at the top of Mahabodhi temple preach sovereignty of religion. Apart from followers of Buddhism, Hindu devotees too consider this site important to them, as they consider Buddha as the ninth incarnation of god Vishnu. A 9th century Shivalingam is also found in the temple.
Muchalinda Lake is considered a sacred place for followers of Buddhism. It is said that while Buddha was into the sixth week of meditation by the side of Muchalinda Lake, a severe storm struck. Muchalinda, the snake king protected Buddha who was deep in meditation. The temple found here houses the sculpture of Buddha and the snake in the act of protecting the god. The lake is a feast to nature lovers, as it is surrounded by lush green environment.
The Phalgu or Falgu, a river that flows past Gaya, India in the Indian state of Bihar, is a sacred river for Hindus and Buddhists. In ancient scriptures, it is called the Nairanjana in Sanskrit. The portion of the course of the Phalgu flowing by Gaya is sacred to the Hindus. It is the first holy site visited by the pilgrim and here his first offering must be made for the souls of his ancestors.
This hill adds to the beauty of Gaya. It is about 10 kms from the Ramshila hill. Just below the hill is the Brahma Kund. After taking bath in this pond people go for the 'Pind Dan' which involves performance of religious rites and offering donations and charity for the peace of souls of one's parents and ancestors. On top of the hill the Queen of Indore, Ahilya Bai, built a temple in 1787 popularly known as Ahilya Bai Temple. This temple has always been an attraction for the tourists due to its unique architecture and magnificent sculptures.
Aiming to inculcate an in-depth knowledge on spirituality and practicing Buddhist meditation, the Root Institute for Wisdom Culture in Bodh Gaya offers introductory and intermediate meditation courses for beginners every year from October to March. You need to donate a certain amount to enroll for the course. This includes both stay and meals. Apart from this, you can also participate in the daily meditation sessions which are open to anyone visiting the place. Timings for these daily courses can be checked at their office.
Royal Bhutan Monastery appeals to the followers of Buddhism with its wonderful depictions of the life of Buddha. Bhutan kind constructed this monastery, which ranks amongst the majestic monasteries in the land. The influence of conventional architecture strikes you the moment you set your eyes on the monastery. It houses a beautiful temple in which you can find 7 feet tall Buddha statue. The serene atmosphere makes it a wonderful place to meditate.
Shrine of Hazrat Makhdoom Syed Shah Durwesh Ashraf is located at a distance of 10 km from the main city. Popularly known as Bitho Sharif, this shrine is based on Gaya-Patna route. Hazrat Makhdoom Syed Shah Durwesh Ashraf, the great Sufi saint of Chishtia-Ashrafi order established Khanqah-e-Ashrafia. He settled here in around ninth century Hijri. Urs of Hazrat Makhdoom Durwesh Ashraf, one of the most important festivals, is celebrated from 10th to 12th Islamic month of Shabaan every year.
Just 2 kilometres away from Bodh Gaya is the Sujata Temple. During Lord Buddha's journey to enlightenment, he had renounced all worldly pleasures, including food. It was during this time when a tribal woman (named Sujatha) offered kheer to Buddha who was starving from long. It is believed that after 6 years of practicing meditation, kheer was the first morsel Buddha ate. This temple, situated close to the Phalgu river, is thus dedicated to this tribal woman.
Surya Kund is a major tourist attraction. It is located on the west side of the famous Vishnupad temple. Devotees believe that a holy dip in the pond gets rid them of their sins. The place is thronged by tourists during festival seasons. The festival is organized twice in a year, first in the months of March-April and second in the months of September-October. Surya Kund becomes most visited place on Chhath when Sun God is worshiped and people from near by places come to take a dip in the Surya Kund.
The only Thai temple to be located in India was built in the year 1956 by Thailand Monarch following the request from the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. The temple is a fine specimen of Thai architecture. The amazing construction with a sloping roof that is curved is a visual delight to those with architectural eye. The golden tiles over the roof look brilliant in sunlight. The serene atmosphere inside the temple and outside the monastery takes your mind to a different world. Statue of Buddha inside the temple is made of bronze. A statue of Buddha measuring 25 meter in height enhances the magic of the beautiful garden near the temple and the monastery.
Funded and erected by the Vietnam Government, the Vietnamese Temple was constructed to promote Buddhism in the year 2002. The Avalokiteswara statue is that of a peaceful Buddha and is mounted inside the temple and paints a serene picture as you enter the temple premises. Since it was recently built, you will find state-of-the-art architectural techniques reflecting in this magnificent shrine. The sprawling gardens that surround the shrine are also a must visit while you are here.
Located on Falgu River banks, Vishnupad temple is considered to be constructed on Lord Vishnu's footprints and hence the name. This ancient temple was reconstructed in the year 1787 by Indore's queen Rani Ahilya Bai. The footprint is 40 cms in length. The huge temple complex displays images of various gods and goddesses. Temple for Lord Nrisimha is found in the courtyard of Vishnupad temple. A special feature of this temple is that its eastern side is dedicated to god Shiva.
- Lomas Rishi Cave, Sudama Cave, Mangla Gauri Temple, Nagkut Mountain, Narmada Mata Temple etc.