Get Spiritual in Bodh Gaya, the birthplace of BuddhaBihar, India
Interested in Buddhism? Looking to inject more meaning into your life or have a little existential itch that just won't quit? You can do all this and more in India's Bodh Gaya, the birthplace of Buddhism.
The town of Bodh Gaya in Bihar, in East India, bordering Nepal and divided by the River Ganges is the birthplace of Prince Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) and is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world.
So how did all of this come about? One day the sheltered young prince decided to wander outside his privileged and palatial quarters and was shocked when he saw intense suffering and decay. His response was to abandon his riches in search for truth and enlightenment. After several years of searching and meditation, it is believed he attained nirvana in Bodh Gaya to become Buddha (the enlightened one). The rest, as they say, is history.
Today, pilgrims and tourists flock to the tranquil 2,500-year-old city to soak in its spiritual ambience, retrace the footsteps of Buddha, understand his philosophies, pay homage or attend one of the many Buddhist workshops. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Mahabodhi Temple to the renowned Bodhi Tree, Bodh Gaya has many worthy and fascinating attractions.
Head to the Dungeshwari Caves (also known as the Mahakala Caves), located 12 kilometres northeast of Bodh Gaya. It is here Lord Buddha meditated for six years before he attained enlightenment. Six years? Think about that for a moment. Most people can't sit still for six seconds.
Situated 40 kilometre from Bodh Gaya is a cluster of four caves know and the Barabar Caves: Karan Chaupar, Lomas Rishi, Sudama and Visvakarma. Carved from granite rock, they are said to have been constructed by emperor Ashoka for the use of Ajivaka ascetics.
Scattered within the ruins of one of the greatest education institutes in history and located on the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Nalanda is the resplendent Nalanda University. Throughout the fifth and thirteenth centuries it functioned as an ancient mahavihara that housed 11 monasteries and six brick temples. Today it functions as an international research centre and is a beacon of learning, attracting scholars from all over Asia.
No trip to Bodh Gaya would be complete without visiting the famous Bodhi Tree. Situated next to the Mahabodhi Temple, it is probably the most recognised symbol in Buddhism. It marks the spot where the original Bodhi tree once stood, under which the meditating Prince sat for more than a month before he attained enlightenment.
The ultimate question is will you find what you're looking for in Bodh Gaya? There's only one way to find out!