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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Joanna James Joanna James
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Spiritual Destinations in Bodhgaya – Finding Sanctity Amidst the Ruins

Many of the religious leaders of the world have emerged from Asia where civilizations have been in existence for several millennia. India alone boasts of being home to quite a few of these leaders.


Maha Bodhi Complex

The Buddhist chronicles reveal that their great leader, Lord Buddha attained the supreme bliss of enlightenment under a Bo Tree in the city of Bodhgaya in the state of Bihar. Though the original Bo Tree is not believed to have survived, it is confirmed through literature that the presently flourishing Bo Tree stemmed from the original tree. Maha Bodhi can be translated to 'Noble Tree'; therefore this is the precinct that is devoted to the noble tree that lent shade and support to Bodhisattva as he meditated to attain enlightenment. Many who visit this complex spend a few hours in solitude and attempt to practice meditation techniques such as 'anapaanasathi' or 'maithree' as prescribed by Buddha. The sanctity of the area is prolific and the greenery helps maintain the freshness of the air in spite of the heat.


Animisa Cetiya

Appreciation is a virtue that parents and teachers try tirelessly to instill in their children and students. Lord Buddha is considered the best guru of this trait as he is believed to have spent seven days gazing at the Maha Bodhi or the noble tree as a mark of respect and gratitude. A shrine has been erected in this location and to date is a still and composed environment that encourages devotees to engage their minds in soulful thoughts. This area is high ground and offers views of the river that flows by and several other prominent locations in the precinct such as the Muchalinda Pond. To house the thousands of devotees and other tourists that pour in on a daily basis there are several Bodhgaya hotels that have come up in proximity like the Oaks Bodhgaya.


Niranjana River and Dungeshwari Cave

The river that is now commonly referred to as Falgu River appears as Niranjana River in Buddhist scriptures. It has played a pivotal role in the story of Bodhisattva and Buddha. The Buddhist devotees flock around the river to chant praises and reminisce what may have taken place during the era of the Bodhisatva and Buddha. The Dungeshwari Cave is where the Bodhisatva spent six years of his life during his quest of unraveling the rightful path for life and nirvana or enlightenment. He disconnected himself from all worldly activities and starved himself only to realize that the truth cannot be found through that path. This is one of the most sensitive and poignant incidents in the life of the Bodhisatva, thus many devout Buddhists spend a few minutes here lamenting over the heart wrenching sacrifices that their leader had to go through.


Aarti at Varanasi

The River Ganges makes it to the news quite often and throughout history it has been an important irrigator and cultural centre for India. The city of Varanasi or Baranesa is of significance in both Hindu and Buddhist scriptures. The Hindu version names it the 'City of Shiva' and religious tributes are paid to the gods twice daily along the banks of the river. The Buddhists assert that the first sermon made by Buddha happened in the township of Saranath adjacent to Varanasi.