Bodhgaya, Bihar’s capital city, is a great centre of pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists. According to legend, Lord Vishnu, gave Gaya, a celestial being, the power to absolve sinners and send them to heaven. This belief brings thousands of Hindus here to offer the last rituals for their departed ones. The magnificent Vishnupad Temple is said to have been built on the footsteps of Lord Vishnu, with eight rows of beautifully sculptured pillars supporting the Mandap (Pavillion). In the temple premises stands Akshayabat, the immortal banyan tree, where the ritual for the dead culminates. This is the same tree where Buddha seems to have meditated for six years. Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya located along the Phalgu River, sitting under a banyan tree to meditate, vowing not to rise until he attained enlightenment
Mahabodhi Temple has a gilded statue of Buddha sitting cross-legged with his right hand touching the ground in acceptance of the enlightenment. Under the tree is Vajrasana, the Diamond Throne, a stone slab marking the site where Buddha was sitting when he attained enlightenment. The Archaeological Museum at Bodhgaya displays a good range of sculptures.
Not far from Bodhgaya is the Dhudeshwari or Sujata Sthan. This place is sacred to Buddhists as it is supposed to be the place where a young village woman Sujata offered Gautama a bowl of rice-pudding, which brought about a miraculous transformation in Buddha's body. Muchalinda Lake is famous because legend says a snake king protected Buddha from torrential rains at the lake.
A flamboyant showcase of Rajasthani architecture and a firm favourite on tourist itineraries as the third corner of India’s ‘Golden ...