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About Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya is located in Gaya district in Bihar. It is a holy place which is very popular due to the renowned Mahabodhi Temple. This is the pious place where Mahatma Buddha attained enlightenment under a banyan tree which is famous as the “Bodhi tree”.

According to the Buddhists, this city is one of the most significant place among the other 3 Buddhist pilgrimage centers. The rest of the three holy places for Buddhists are Lumbini, Kushinagar and Sarnath.

Geography and Demographics of Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya is positioned at 24.695102 degrees in the North and 84.991275 degrees in the East. The city occupies an area of 20.2 square kilometers. The altitude of the city is 113 m.  According to the census of 2001, the population of Bodh Gaya was 30883. The female and male population percentages are 46 and 54 percent respectively. The avg. literacy rate of the city is 51 percent which is much less as compared to the national avg. i.e. 59.5 percent. The female and male literacy rates are 38 percent and 63 percent respectively. About 8 percent of the total population falls in the age group of kids under six years. 
Hindi and Magadhi are the main languages that are commonly spoken in this area.

In summers the maximum and minimum temperatures remain 47 degrees and 28 degrees respectively. In winters one can witness a minimum temperature of 4 degrees and maximum being 28 degrees. From mid of June to mid of September is the rainy season and the city witnesses a rainfall of 186 cms. The best time to visit Bodh Gaya is between the months of October and March.

History of Bodh Gaya

The followers of Buddhism religion from all around the world congregate at the holy city of Bodh Gaya. Earlier the place was located by the river bank of Neranjana, at that time the city was famous as “Uruwela”. The first king who constructed a temple at this pious place was King Ashoka.  The birth of Gautam Buddha dates back to the 563 BC in Nepal on the promising day of Baisakhi Poornima. Buddha who was known as Siddhartha in his younger years left his family at 29 years of age. Thereafter he travelled from one place to another in search of peace and truth. He practiced self-mortification for about 6 years at Bodh Gaya. He soon gave up this practice as it didn’t result in “Vimukthi”. After that he found out the 8-fold-path without taking help from anybody and after a lot of practice he finally obtained the enlightenment (or Buddhatva). Buddhatva is a state where one is totally devoid of hatred, lust and attachment. After acquiring enlightenment one can enter Nibbana, the Parinibbana is the final phase.

Ever since Gautam Buddha abandoned all the worldly pleasures, five of his very close friends left him by saying that Buddha has become a beggar now who has rejected austerity. Buddha said austerities are to confuse one’s mind and also that he has rejected all the luxuries of life and has found out the middle way. Walking on this path would be neither very easy nor very hard (as practicing austerity). After hearing this answer from Buddha all his five companions (who practiced austerity) became his very first followers in Sarnath (at Deer Park).

The followers of Buddha started visiting this place on every full moon of Vaisakh month (according to Hindu calendar). As the time passed by, this place became famous as Bodh Gaya. Buddha Poornima was the day when Buddha attained enlightenment and the banyan tree under which he sat became well-known as “Bodhi Tree”.  

The interesting history of the city is written in various inscriptions and by many pilgrims. The first were the Chinese Buddhist pilgrims- Faxian and Xuanzang who produced many writings about Bodh Gaya. 
Bodh Gaya has witnessed the Buddhist civilization for a long time until the Turkic armies seized it in thirteenth century. Before the 18th century, the place was popular as Sambodhi, Uruvela, Mahabodhi or Vajrasana. Bodhimanda Vihara was the old name of the present day Mahabodhi Temple.

In the year 2002, the Mahabodhi Temple turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2013, 7th July the temple witnessed the explosion of 5 bombs within its premises. As per the data there were 4 more bombs that were exploded in the city whereas 3 bombs were defused.

Transport in Bodhgaya

The following are the various modes of transport to reach Bodh Gaya:

Rail Transport
The main railway station of the city is the Gaya Railway Station which is located at a distance of 17 kilometers from the main city. This rail head connects Bodh Gaya with all the major towns and cities of India.

Road Transport
The city of Both Gaya is just 12 kilometers away from the Gaya city. The National Highway 83 links both the cities of Bodh Gaya and Gaya. Regular bus services can be availed to travel between Patna and Both Gaya. Bodh Gaya is linked with Nalanda, Gaya, Patna, Rajgir, Kolkata and Varanasi via road. Bihar State Tourism department has also introduced the “Carvan” or the “Wonder on Wheel” service. This wonder carvan consists of a 7 seater air-conditioned van which also includes beds, sofas, inverter and LCD TV.  

Air Transport
The nearest airport to the city is the Gaya Airport which is located at a distance of 10 kms from the railway station of Gaya and about 7 kms away from Bodh Gaya. The Sahara Airlines and Indian Airlines link the Patna city with Mumbai, Kolkata, Ranchi, Lucknow, Delhi and other important cities via excellent air transport services.

Local Transport
For local transport one can bank on tongas, cycle rickshaws, autos and taxis.

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