Maha Bodhi Temple (Bodh Gaya)


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Overall Comments

The Mahabodhi Temple compound is huge and well-maintained. An Asokan Pillar is inside the premise. The main shrine and the diamond throne are always crowded with people but we managed to sit there meditating for some time. It is a very small pilgrim town with one main street but is thronged with people, with a high density of other Buddhists. Rickshaw is about 10 rupee per person per ride. This is again one of the best places to meditate for longer periods.

There is a very small archaeological museum nearby where we saw some original railings with interesting carvings, and a beautiful bas relief of the Buddha taming Nalagiri. If you have time, it is good to see.

Perhaps you can ask the guide to take you to Mucalinda (1 km away from Bodhgaya) where there is a tank where Naga Mucalinda spread his hood to protect the Buddha during a storm (as recorded in the Pali Canon). We didn't get to see it. There is a Thai temple nearby called Mucalinda Thai temple. We met two Thai monks in Sarnath and Bodhgaya, whom we knew from Wat Metta. They were staying in that temple and commuting on foot. Please note that there is a small, stone tank immediately adjacent to the Bodgaya temple complex which has a big statue of Mucalinda in the tank; however, according to the book this is not the genuine Mucalinda tank.

Areas suitable for Meditation

Many areas in the temple precinct are suitable for meditation. Meditation inside the temple itself is challenging, due to the flux of pilgrims, and needs of others, but you may be lucky to be able to meditation for a few minutes just inside the outer door of the temple.

I am told that there may be a room upstairs in the main temple available for meditation, for those who seek it out.

Many people stay in the temple complex for overnight meditation (with the gates officially closed for security), but this requires official arrangements by providing your passport, near the gates of the complex. Please note that you will need to plan to remain within the temple complex for the entirety of the night (I believe the gates reopen somewhere in the range 5am-6am.


Historic Accounts

Faxian See p103 (chapter 31) of "Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms" by Fa-Hien, as Translated by James Legge.

Xuanzang See page 115 and some following (most notably 118-119 for description of the temple structure itself) in book VIII of Vol 2 Buddhist Records of the Western World.

3D Panoramas

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Pilgrims may be interested in the archaeological museum, which houses some impressive artifacts and statues.

Other References

Wikipedia entry on Maha Bodhi Temple

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