Bihar has a number of cities which attract tourists each year. I have travelled to a handful of them, but the city I found most fascinating was Bodh Gaya. The simplicity and holiness of Gaya enchanted my mind. My trip to Bodh Gaya lasted for a day, and I went there in December. The number of tourists and visitors was at its peak this month, and there were people everywhere tourists, pilgrims, and locals the roads were filled with energy and enthusiasm.
1. The Mahabodhi Temple
I booked an affordable Kolkata Taxi with an experienced driver and reached Gaya early in the morning after a comfortable overnight journey. My first stop in Bodh Gaya was the magnificent Mahabodhi temple. The first step in the temple premises gave me mental peace and calmness. UNESCO declared it as a World Heritage Site in 2002, and the place is always full of monks and tourists all year.
As I entered further into the temple, I saw many monks doing various activities. Some were quietly chanting their prayers, some were cleaning the temple grounds, and some were gradually strolling around with us.
The peace and aura of the monks soothed me, and I realized how serene their lives are, unlike ours, who are always worried about our jobs and families. The small gentle smiles on their faces made me forget my problems, and with a calm mind, I offered my prayers to Buddha.
2. The Bodhi Tree
Cameras are allowed in the temple grounds, but I wanted to capture everything with my own eyes. I saw the Bodhi Tree, where the Buddha got his enlightenment. The tree gave out serene vibes, which calmed my mind and soul. The fountain, pond, and bells spread peace all around the place.
3. The Great Buddha Statue
Just beside the Mahabodhi temple is the largest statue of Buddha in India, known as the Great Buddha Statue. It is 25 meters tall, and the first statue of Buddha ever built in India. His Holiness Dalai Lama unveiled the statue in 1989 and the statue is one of India’s prides. The whole statue and the surrounding ten smaller statues of Buddha’s disciplines are breathtaking.
4. Animesh Lochan Chaitya Shrine
Animesh Lochan Chaitya Shrine is another holy place on the northeast side of the Mahabodhi Temple. It is said that Buddha spent his second week of meditation here and stared at the Bodhi Tree without blinking his eyes, so the site got its name.
5. The Cankanama Shrine
After the Animesh Lochan Chaitya Shrine, I went to the Cankanama Shrine, towards the north side of the temple. It is said that Buddha practised walking meditation in the third week of his meditation in this shrine. Buddha’s footsteps were carved into lotuses made of black stone. The sight was truly breathtaking.
6. Muchalinda Lake
My last destination in the Mahabodhi Temple was the Muchalinda Lake. It is named after the snake king Muchalinda, who protected Buddha using his hood from a huge storm in his sixth week of meditation. The story is carved in scripture and is placed at the center of the lake.
After finishing my visit to the temple grounds, I sat at a corner, chanting prayers and spending time in perfect tranquility. It felt as though my soul was at peace.
Before I realized, it was time to head home. I had an early dinner outside the temple premises. Having already booked a cab back to Kolkata using a reliable taxi service in Gaya, I started my journey. As I looked out of the cab, I couldn’t help but ponder over the differences between our lives and the monks’ lives, and the main difference is peace of mind!