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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for 5 Unknown Facts about Mahabodhi Complex – a sacred monument of Buddhist religion
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Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Unknown Facts about Mahabodhi Complex – a sacred monument of Buddhist religion

The Mahabodhi complex in Bihar, Bodhgaya of India is one of the world's famous pilgrimage sites also privileged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

1

Religious and cultural significance

Religious and cultural significance

Bodhgaya holds a significant importance in the life of Lord Gautama Buddha, who is the founder of Buddhist philosophy. It is the place where he attained enlightenment and gained the supreme knowledge about the truth behind life, setting aside all the mythological beliefs. Literature holds that Lord Buddha had spent the succeeding seven weeks in the vicinity, which had later been developed into the Mahabodhi temple complex. The first week had been spent meditating and reflecting the newly achieved status of mind, the second week paying tribute to the Mahabodhi Tree, the third week performing the jewel walk, the fourth week close to Ratnagar Chaitya, the fifth week answering the queries raised by Brahmins, the sixth week next to the Lotus Pond, and the seventh week under the Rajaratnam tree.

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History

History

The temple had been first constructed by the Buddhist Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century BC. Since then it had undergone many restorations and the temple that remains today dates back to the 5th or 6th centuries. The 'Vajrasana' or the Diamond Throne established by the Emperor at the foot of the Bodhi Tree where it is believed that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment through meditation, and a few sculpted stone pillars from the original structure still remain intact after thousands of years. Today, the structure comprises of a 50m high main temple and a few surrounding stupas.

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Architecture

Architecture

The Mahabodhi temple complex is one of the earliest examples of brick architecture in India. The main temple tower and the four smaller towers are intricately decorated with stone carvings of figures and incidents related to the Buddhist religion. Later during the Sunga period, some pot-based columns have been added to the structure. A railing surrounds the temple from all four sides. The architectural value has played a major role in gaining its position as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Mahabodhi tree

Mahabodhi tree

With its direct connection to Lord Buddha's life, the Mahabodhi tree is the centre of attraction in this temple complex. Buddhist literature has identified this spot as the focal point of the earth, converging all the energy in the world. It is also said when a new Buddha is born a lotus flower will bloom in this spot signifying the birth.

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Protection and management

The followers of Buddhist religion revere this place as one of the four sites that every Buddhist should visit at least once within their lifetime. Hence, the Bodhgaya and Mahabodhi temple complex receive thousands of pilgrims every year who seek shelter at the pilgrim houses. More recently the visitors have developed a tendency to stay in a modern Bodhgaya hotel, as the cheaper pilgrim houses get overly crowded. Some of these hotels like the Oaks Bodhgaya have facilities for accommodation, meetings, and conferences as well giving a chance to pay a quick visit to these religious sites while you are away on business. Currently, the temple complex is under the protection and management of the Bihar State Government and the Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee.