Bodhgaya in the state of Bihar in India is one of the most important and sacred Buddhist pilgrimage in the world. The place is holy for the Buddhist followers as Gautama Buddha attained unsurpassed and supreme enlightenment here after completion of a long and deep meditation under a Bodhi Tree. According to some people I’ve talked to, It is also the place where Buddha earned the status of being a God from common people.
The exact spot where Buddha meditated is now marked by the sprawling Mahabodhi Temple complex. As I visited the temple, I noticed that there are so many Monks, pilgrims and visitors from around the world sitting at the ground of the complex reading and chanting scriptures in deep contemplation.
Being one of the sacred places for Buddhists, the town of Bodhgaya is also a home to dozens of Buddhist monasteries maintained by various Buddhist countries. Here are some of the monasteries:
The Royal Bhutan Monastery has been constructed by the King of Bhutan to pay respect to the Lord Buddha. The interior of the monastery has a unique feature. The walls of the monastery are decorated by unusual clay carvings showing various aspects of Buddhism.
Indosan Nipponji Japan Temple
The Nipponji Japan Monastery is a great example of Japanese architecture. It resembles a typical Japanese shrine and carved out from the wood. Inside the temple are Japanese paintings depicting the life of Gautama Buddha.
Karma temple is a Tibetan temple near the big Buddha statue. This temple is beautifully decorated inside and out. Both the exterior and interior of this temple showcase wonderful wall paintings narrating the life of Gautama Buddha including his enlightenment in Bodhgaya.
The Thai Monastery is adorned with curved and sloping roof which has been covered with golden tiles. Inside the temple is a beautifully carved massive bronze statue of Buddha. Outside the temple is another Buddha statue standing in the garden.
The Mahabodhi Temple (literally means “Great Awakening Temple”) is the location where Gautama Buddha, attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. The temple is made of bricks and considered as one of the oldest brick structures in eastern India. This temple is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. Aside from Buddhist followers, Hindus also visited this temple as Buddha is believed to be the ninth reincarnation of Vishnu.
These are just some of the Buddhist Monasteries that you can visit while in Bodhgaya. There are also monasteries built by the people of China, Myanmar, Nepal, Taiwan and Vietnam.
The pilgrimage season in Bodhgaya starts from September up to January. It was May when we visited Bodhgaya and we stayed at Karma Temple. The temperature was around 45 to 47 degrees. It was too hot that we don’t want to go out of our room even at night. I can say that the most tiring thing about summer in India is that the heat is so relentless. Day after day the weather doesn’t change. It’s always extremely hot, sunny, and dry. I remember that everyday, I always wish that I’m already in the Himalayan part of India or enjoying some ski deals in the icy weather.
Aside from the Mahabodhi temple, Of all the monasteries and temples I visited here, the Bhutanese one was visually great. All the temples are well connected by road and can be covered by foot within a day. The architectural beauty of these temples resembles those that you will see in their respective countries. All were extremely great.