Mahabodhi Temple Complex: A UNESCO World Heritage Site
PHOTO GALLERY.. click here..
Mahabodhi temple Complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is built at the place where Buddha attained Enlightenment. The first temple was built by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC. The present temple dates from 5th-6th century , [from late Gupta period]. It is built entirely of brick, and had significant influence in the development of architecture over the centuries. The sculpted balustrades are outstanding examples of sculptural reliefs in stone.
The Mahabodhi temple Complex has direct association with the life of Lord Buddha [566 - 486 BC], being the place where He attained Enlightenment [The Supreme Knowledge] seated under the Bodhi Tree in 531 BC.
The UNESCO site explains it’s importance.. click here..
The main temple in classical style of Indian temple architecture. There are niches containing images of Buddha. Above the moulding are chaitya niche and then curvileniar shikhara or tower, surpounted by amalaka and kalasha [architectural features of a tradional Indian temple]
The niches also have statues of Hindu Gods like in the photo we see Lord Shiva in the center.
Ashokan Pillar at Mahabodhi Temple Complex [3rd century BC]
Sculpted stone balustrade
From Wikipedia click here.. The Mahabodhi Temple is surrounded on all four sides by stone railings, about two metres high. The railings reveal two distinct types, both in style as well as the materials used. The older ones, made of sandstone, date to about 150 BCE, and the others, constructed from unpolished coarse granite, are believed to be of the Gupta period (300–600 CE). The older railings have scenes such as Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, being bathed by elephants; and Surya, the Hindu sun god, riding a chariot drawn by four horses. The newer railings have figures of stupas (reliquary shrines) and garudas (eagles). Images of lotus flowers also appear commonly.
Monks and in the background is the sculpted stone balustrade]..
Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra ["touching the ground pose"]
Seven Sacred Sites at Mahabodhi Temple Complex
The Mahabodhi Temple Complex consists of the main temple and six sacred places within an enclosed area, and a seventh one, the Lotus Pond, outside the enclosure. These seven places was the location where Buddha spent in meditation after attaining Enlightenment.
[I] Bodhi Pallanka [The Place of Enlightenment]
Prince Siddharta attained Buddhahood [Full Enlightenment] in the year 623 BC on the Vaisakha full moon day sitting under this Peepul [Bodhi Tree] .
The Vajrasana or the diamond throne, the place where Buddha attained Enlightenment, which is under this Bodhi tree. The Diamond Throne is made of red sand stone, and was built in the 3rd century B.C. by Emperor Asoka.
The most important of the sacred places is the sacred Bodhi tree, located at the west end of the main temple and is supposed to be the fifth direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree, which was earlier destroyed several times by man-made and natural disasters. It is here where the Buddha achieved Enlightenment and spent his first week in meditation. Next to the Bodhi Tree is the Vajrasana (Diamond Throne), made of red sand stone in the 3rd century B.C. by Emperor Asoka. Venerable Ashwaghosa in his Buddhacarita revealed that this is the Navel of the Earth. Fa-Hien mentioned that all the past Buddhas attained Enlightenment here and the future Buddhas too will attain the enlightenment on this spot.
[II] The Animeshlochan Chaitya [Prayer Hall]
The Animeshlochan Chaitya (prayer hall), located to the north of the central path is believed to be the place where the Buddha spent the second week in meditation in standing posture gazing at the Bodhi Tree with motionless eyes.
[III] Cankamana [Cloister Walk]
Lord Buddha spent the third week here walking up and down in meditation. On the platform lotuses indicate the places where the Lord’s feet rested while walking.
[IV] Ratanaghara [The Place of Basic Contemplation]
Lord Buddha spent the Fourth week here in mediatation reflecting on the Patthana or the Causal law.
[V] Ajapala Nigrodha Tree [Banyan Tree]
Lord Buddha spent the Fifth week under this tree in meditation after Enlightment. here he replies to Brahmana that only by one’s deeds one becomes a Brahmana, not by birth.
[VI] Muchalinda Sarovar [The Abode of Snake King]
Lord Buddha spent the Sixth week in meditation here. While he was meditating, severe thunder storm broke out. To protect Him from the violent thunder and rain even the creatores came out for his safety. [ Muchalinda, the snake king of the Lake came out and protected the Buddha from the violent wind and rain with his hood]
[VII ] Rajayatna [A Kind of Forest Tree]
After Enlightenment Lord Buddha spent the Seventh week here in mediation. At the end of mediatation, two merchants Tapussa and Bhallika offered rice cake and honey to the Lord and took refuge - Buddham Saranam Gacchami, Dhammam Saranam Gacchami [Sangha was not founded then].
… And more points of interest at the Mahabodhi Temple Complex
Part I – Mahabodhi Temple Complex
Part II – Mahabodhi Chinese Temple.. click here..
Part III -Tibetan Nyingma Monastery .. click here..
Part IV – Bangladesh Buddhist Monastery.. click here..
Part V – Taiwan Temple.. click here..
Part VI – Daijokyo Buddha Temple / Japan.. click here..
Part VII – The Great Buddha Statue.. click here..
Part VIII – Karma Tibet Temple.. click here..
UNESCO World Heritage Site [mahabodhi temple Complex at Bodh gaya].. click here..
Holy Sites of Buddhism [Bodh Gaya: Place of Enlightenment click here..
Major Buddhist Places in India.. click here..
Buddhism in India.. click here..