Ten Second Takeaway

Bodh Gaya is a major Buddhist site; the location of the Bodhi treee, the Mahabodhi Temple complex and home to a series of Buddhist temples and monasteries built by many different countries.

Reaching Gaya

We landed at the Gaya Airport; a single building in an empty field, with a couple of vehicles parked casually by the terminal. We walked out of the airplane to the terminal, across a pockmarked tarmac.

A city the size of Gaya would usually never have had an airport for itself, but this was no normal city. This was the place Buddha attained enlightenment, one of Buddhism’s holiest sites. The airport was constructed to handle the large numbers of visitors {both national and international} who come through every year.

Finding our feet

We crammed into an auto, and it spluttered its way towards Bodh Gaya. The city of Gaya is an unorganised, widespread location, a few kilometres from Bodh Gaya, our true destination. We were on the way to the Indian monastery and hostel {located bang opposite the famous Mahabodhi Temple}.

As we drove down the open, winding road we crossed a series of temples, monasteries and sites built by Buddhist populations of different countries. Thailand, Burma, Japan, China, Tibet, Vietnam, Bhutan, Sikkim and many more all had their representative temples.

Visiting the Bodhi

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Once we had settled into the Indian monastery, and befriended all the local dogs, we went to the Mahabodhi Temple complex. Having been to many such religious sites before, we expected more of the same, but boy, were we surprised.

The sheer silence, and peace, at the temple complex was stunning. Monks, resplendent in orange robes, walked in silence around the massive structure of the Mahabodhi, built right by the Bodhi tree. The tree itself was glorious, spreading its roots and branches like tentacles as far as possible, rustling lightly in the breeze.

This was, we found out later, the fourth generation of the original Bodhi, having been replanted for generations.

Exploring the area

The next day, we decided to walk through Bodh Gaya, stopping for chai here and there, to explore the different temples. Of particular note were the Thai, Japanese and Bhutanese temples, each with their own cultural influences evident in the architecture and interiors.

We learnt the Japanese have been particularly generous with funding for the area, hoping to keep the level of maintenance high for this holiest of holy locations. Among their donations is a breathtaking 80-foot statue of the Buddha, next to their Japanese temple. The statue, while astonishing, was also a little out of place with its modern design in such an ancient site.

A trip like no other

We can honestly say we’ve never been to a place like Bodh Gaya. The peace and serenity permeated through every restaurant, chai shop, temple and person. The temples were gorgeous, the locals were accommodating, the dogs were friendly {very important} and the Mahabodhi, 1,500 years old, was simply stunning.

We often talk of amazing India, and her amazing history, but if you have never visited Bodh Gaya, perhaps you don’t really know just how amazing she is.

Where: Gaya, Bihar