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The Ultimate Source of Information on Indian Temples

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Temples of the Gangetic Plains

Gaya is located at a distance of 105 km from Patna in the state of Bihar. Buddha Gaya is located 7 miles south of Gaya and is one of the well visited Buddhist pilgrimage centers of the Indian subcontinent.

There are four sacred Buddhist pilgrimage centers in the Indian subcontinent. The first of these is the birthplace of Buddha at Lumbinivana, east of Kapilavastu. The second most sacred place of pilgrimage is Buddha Gaya where he attained enlightenment. The third most sacred pilgrimage center for Buddhists is Sarnath or Isipatan where Buddha delivered his first sermon, and the fourth is Kushinara or Kashia in Uttar Pradesh, where he finally gave up his mortal self.

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The Bodhi tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment is considered to be the among the oldest and the most venerated tree in the world. This tree is said to be a descendant of the original tree, a branch of which was transplanted at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka during the period of Emperor Ashoka the great.  It is believed that Emperor Ashoka's Guru Upagupta led him to various holy sites in the Buddhist tradition, including this tree at Gaya.

Buddha Gaya is also home to the ancient temple of Buddha. The Mahabodhi temple has a 150 feet high tower, and it contains a gilded image of Buddha. The original shrine here is believed to have been raised by Emperor Ashoka. The temple has a beautiful stone railing around it. Depcited on the walls of the temple are scenes from Buddha's life. A museum in the vicinity has gold, bronze and stone images of Buddha.

The Vajrasana-platform where Buddha performed his penance is located below the Bodhi tree, and this spot is described as the center of the Universe. The spots where he spent seven weeks have seven shrines, built by devout Buddhists from several countries.

Several Buddhist relics have been unearthed in this area. Other places of interest here include the Tibetian, Japanese and Burmese monasteries. The Tibetian monastery houses the massive Dharma Chakra or the wheel of law. Millions visit Buddha Gaya  from all over the world.

The Chinese traveller Hyuen Tsang of the seventh century CE, has described Buddha Gaya in detail in his travel accounts where he writes about the monasteries that thrived in this region.

See Also:
Vishnu Paada Temple at Gaya
Prapitaa Maheswara Temple at Gaya
Mangala Gowri Temple at Gaya
Dakshinaarka Sun Temple at Gaya