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This is a temple with a history of over 2500 years and is the same place where Gautama Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. It is in Gaya which is a few kilomteres away from Patna and is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This temple around what is known as the Mahabodhi tree is said to have been built by Emperor Ashoka, who was an ardent follower of Lord Buddha after he left the path of violence and shifted completely to non- violence following the teachings of Lord Buddha. The Emperor visited this place in the 3rd Century BC and decided to pay his respects to Buddha. Afterwards also when Fa Hien, the ambassador from China visited this place he has mentioned it in his account. He has mentioned seeing the Bodhi Tree surrounded by brick walls. This temple is the forst brick temple dedicated to Lord Buddha and is often considered as the oldest and most important place of Buddhist worship in the country. Later with the advent of the Delhi Sultanate in the 18th Century, the temple lost its importance completely and was not repaired or maintained at all. Later again with the fall of the intolerant Delhi Sultans and the advent of the Burmese rulers, the temple recieved its necessary maintenance and this carried on till the time of the British. People flock here in huge numbers every year to seek blessings from the lord.
As the name suggests, the history and significance of this place revolves around the Bodhi tree which is actually a peepal tree. The original name of the place is Gaya and the Bodhgaya is the combination of the two words Bodhi and Gaya. This is the tree under which Gautama Buddha had attained enlightenment and became Buddha- The Enlightened one. The main attraction of this place apart from the history of the Mauryan Empire is the Mahabodhi Temple. This is the oldest seat of Buddhist worship and dates back to the 2nd or 3rd Century. The initial temple structure was built by Emperor Ashika when he visited this place after he had left violence and adopted the path of peace and love. What we see at present is not at all the temple the Chinese Ambassador Fa Hien had mentioned in his account. This is a beautiful ornate temple and monastery with a beautiful spire and a large complex. What Fa Hien had mentioned was just the Bodhi Tree surrounded by brick walls. No doubt this was the forst brick Buddhist temple in the country, but presently it is much more beautiful and the magical sense of inner peace you recieve on visiting this place cannot be explained in words.
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