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The word “Bodh Gaya” is derived from bodhi meaning enlightenment and Gaya being the district where the famous Mahabodhi Temple Complex is located. This town is situated in the southern Bihar in northern India.

Bodh Gaya is the pilgrimage place for Buddhists. Bodh Gaya is the place where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment beneath the holy pipal tree, commonly known as Bodhi tree, and became Buddha who is worshipped by 535 million people as of today(8% to 10% of the world population).

This town is also home to the world-renowned Mahabodhi Temple which was also included as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

How To Reach Bodh Gaya?

By Air

The closest airport is located at the Gaya district(Gaya International Airport) which is 15 kilometres from Bodh Gaya which would take 15 minutes to reach by road and taxis and cabs are available but we would recommend opting for the prepaid taxi within the Airport itself to avoid getting scammed.

This airport is mostly seasonal and essentially provides flights to Buddhist tourists coming from southeast Asia.

Another way to reach Bodh Gaya is to board the flight from Patna Airport which is 130 kilometres away from Both Gaya which would take about 5 hours to reach by road. One could take a taxi, train or bus.

We would recommend taking the taxi as it takes you directly to Bodh Gaya. If you consider taking the bus or the train then you would have to take another ride from the Gaya district.

For Foreign travellers, we would recommend choosing the Patna Airport as it caters to a plethora of flights from different countries hence its a better option to consider.

By Car

Lots of taxi operators provide cab services to Bodh Gaya. Though Gaya is just 3 hours away from Patna (if you avoid the Gaya market), very few travellers would prefer to drive from Patna or other nearby towns to Bodh Gaya.

The road connecting to Gaya is sort of rough and not many of us would be comfortable to drive on the rocky path because the journey would take long. We also do not recommend taking your own vehicle as your suspension will take a really bad hit due to poorly maintained roads.

By Bus

The main road connects the town of Bodh Gaya to the city of Gaya. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation(BSTDC) runs bus services (Ac as well as non-ac buses) from Patna to Bodh Gaya twice daily. Apart from Patna, bus services are also available from Nalanda, Rajgir, Varanasi,

and Kathmandu. Now, a new line of luxury air-conditioned Volvo buses have been introduced that connect Bodh Gaya with nearby towns and cities.

We do not recommend travelling by bus for foreigners and you need to be aware of the local language or else you will find it very difficult to find your way.

By Train

The nearest railway station is the Gaya Junction, which is 13 kilometres far from Bodh Gaya. it’s well-connected to major Indian cities. Once you reach the Gaya train station, you’ll be able to reach the holy town by hiring any local taxi from there.

The taxi charge will vary and depend on the time of the day your trains reach. A number of the regular trains are Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, Howrah Rajdhani Express, Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, and Kolkata Mail.

The second nearest train station is in Patna which is 110 kilometres off from Bodh Gaya. Patna railways consist of decent connectivity and most of the Indian cities including metros like Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune are linked with the Patna railway station.

Places To Visit In Bodh Gaya

1.Mahabodhi Temple Complex

Bodhgaya

Mahabodhi Temple site where Buddha attained enlightenment. This complex is large and contains a variety of major attractions within it.

It’s said that, after attaining enlightenment, Buddha spent seven weeks in what’s now Mahabodhi temple meditating under the Bodhi Tree.

Several spots within the temple that relate to the tradition of Buddhism. After the 2013 bombing incident, the temple has increased security. Laptops or mobiles are not allowed into the temple ground.

Bring a DSLR camera with you as this place is extremely recommended for taking excellent photos. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

Places to visit in the complex :

1)Bodhi Tree: In the first week, the Buddha remained under the Bodhi tree. A descendant of this tree can be seen on the western side of the temple today.

2)Animeshlocha Stupa: During the second week, the Buddha sat in a spot and stared at the Bodhi tree. This spot is currently the Animeshlocha Stupa, also known as “unblinking stupa,” where a statue of Buddha sits staring at the tree in the northern part of the temple.

3)Ratnachakrama: During the third week, the Buddha paced back and forth between the tree and the stupa. This path is indicated by the Ratnachakrama commonly known as the Jewelled Ambulatory, which is near the north wall of the main temple. Lotuses came up from where he walked, and today, stone lotuses marking his steps have been constructed.

4)Ramnagar Chaitya: This is the spot where Buddha spent the fourth week, to the northeastern part of the temple.

5)Ajapala Nigrodh Pillar: The Buddha spent the fifth week meditating and clarifying the questions of the Brahmans under the Ajapala Nigrodh tree, a spot which is commemorated with a huge pillar, on the center path past the eastern entrance.

6)Lotus Pond: The Buddha spent the sixth week next to the beautiful Lotus Pond, to the south of the complex.

7)Rajyatana Tree: The seventh and final week was spent under the Rajyatana Tree, whose spot is marked in the southeastern corner of the temple with an actual tree.

Timings – 5:00 AM – 12:00 PM; 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM(All the days).

2.The Giant Buddha Statue

The giant Buddha statue in Bodh Gaya, with a height of 25meters (82 feet), is one of the many stops on the Buddhist religious circuits in India. The Buddha here is seen seated in dhyana mudra-meditation pose, on a lotus in the open.

The temple was consecrated by the Dalai Lama in the last century. The temple premises are well maintained, the towering statue at the open beyond the pathway lined by the shrubbery.

There are many buildings and statues, prominent being the statues of the ten disciples of Buddha, standing in five in a row on either side. It took seven years on the construction of the Great Buddha Statue, mobilizing 120,000 masons in total.

Timings – 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM; 1:00 PM – 5:30 PM(All the days).

3.Archaeological Museum

The Archaeological Museum in Bodh Gaya is an excellent place for anyone who loves artefacts, antique carvings, and a whole collection of rare items from the 1st century.

Walking into the museum you will find terracotta statues, gold, silver and bronze Hindu idols, and a giant stone sculpture of Buddha. It is a must-visit place for all tourists.

Timings – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Except on Friday).

4.Barabar Caves

Barabar Caves is 40 kilometres from Bodh Gaya and it takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach by road. One of the oldest examples of Mauryan rock-cut architecture in India is the Barabar caves, located in the Barabar hills, in Jehanabad District of Bihar.

There are four caves which are Lomas Rishi cave, Sudama cave, Karan Chaupar, and the Visva Zopriin Barabar dating back to the reign of Asoka (273-232 BC) and his grandson Dasaratha, originally for the Ajeevika sect.

Timings – 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM (All the days).

5.Meditation Park

The Meditation Park is located to the south of the Mahabodhi Temple, Meditation Park is a quiet space in which those of all beliefs and backgrounds can meditate.

Meeting areas often play host to Buddhist spiritual discussions, chanting sessions, and prayer meetings that are a beautiful scene to watch and even be immersed in.

A green pond and fountains add to the beauty of Meditation Park which has been beautifully maintained by the authorities.

Timings – 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM (All the days).

6.Bodhgaya Multimedia Museum

The Bodh Gaya Multimedia Museum teaches visitors with lucid animated movies as well as audio-visual performances which trace the history of the Mahabodhi Temple from its origin by Emperor Asoka to its progressive decay and its new record of life given by the Sri Lankan pilgrim who single-handedly wrested power from the Shaivite priests.

One can also learn more about Prince Siddhartha’s rise into Nirvana, his first lesson, his voyages, and finally his demise in Kushinagar. The Eight-Fold Path and the Middle Path are brought to life within these animated parts.

This is a good opportunity especially for children to understand the complexities of Buddhism and its founder that still lives on in the lives of millions around the globe.

Timings – 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (All the days).

7.Wat Thai Bodhgaya Monastery

Thai Monastery in Bodh Gaya is the one and only Thai temple in all of India, Thai Monastery of Bodhgaya was constructed by a ruler of Thailand in 1956.

The then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru ordered for the construction of this temple here for strengthening the relations of the two countries and spread the teachings of Buddha and promote Buddhism in India.

The sloping and curved roof of the building is embraced with golden tiles is a symbol of Thai architecture.

As you step inside, an accurately sculpted 25-meter-tall statue of Buddha with his hair tied in the style of a bun catches the eye.

The Corners are decorated with images and carvings of Buddha in different forms.

This is a popular attraction of Bodh Gaya mainly for the Buddhists. The aura is very calm and thus you can find many meditation centres close to the monastery too.

Every year in January a retreat is arranged. The maximum size of the retreats is 135 people who indulge in meditation, teachings on awakening, and Vipassana Yoga.

Interactive assemblies on daily life problems and liberation are also attended during this time but sinful acts such as smoking and drinking are strictly banned for people participating in the activities.

Timings – 6:00 AM – 7:30 PM (All the days).

Places To Stay At Bodhgaya:

Premier Stays:

1)Marasa Sarovar Premiere, Bodhgaya (4 Stars)

Situated in Bodh Gaya,4 kilometres from Mahabodhi Temple, Marasa Sarovar Premiere, Bodhgaya provides services with a restaurant, free parking, swimming pool, and a gym, etc.

2) Bodhgaya Regency Hotel (4 Stars)

Operating a 24-hour front desk, Bodhgaya Regency Hotel is situated 500 meters from Mahabodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Reservations acceptable without credit card)

3) Oaks Bodhgaya (4 Stars)

Situated in Bodh Gaya, 3.5 km from Mahabodhi Temple, Oaks Bodhgaya offers accommodations with an eatery, free parking, a gym, and a lush green garden. Offering family rooms, the property also provides customers with a terrace. The hotel has a 24-hour front desk, room service, and free WiFi(but slow speeds). (Airport pickup available)

Pocket-friendly Stays:

1)Beauty Guest House

Beauty Guest House is placed in Bodh Gaya, just 600 meters from the Mahabodhi Temple. Free WiFi access is available in the rooms.

Every room here will provide you with a seating area. Offering a shower, private bathroom also comes with toiletries and footwear. You can experience the city view from this room.

Beauty Guest House also offers a 24-hour front desk and a terrace. Free parking also available.

2) Rahul Guest House (2 Stars)

Situated in Bodh Gaya, Rahul Guest House provides air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. Offering a welcome desk, this property also offers customers with a garden. The guesthouse has a 24-hour front desk, room service, and currency exchange for all foreign guests.

The guest house is popular for cycling, and bike and car rental are also available at the guesthouse.

Top Eateries at Bodhgaya:

1) Be Happy Cafe (Italian cafe)

This quaint and cosy cafe serves sweet-smelling espressos, herbal teas, and healthy Italian cuisine – salads, pasta, and freshly baked pizza.

This is the place where you can trust the salads and fresh vegetables, and the desserts are the best in town. Reservations are the best idea for lunch, particularly during the months from November to February.

2) Mohammad Restaurant (Multicuisine)

Mohammad’s whips up a fine array of food from across the Buddhist world – Tibetan, Chinese, Thai, Indian – as well as a strong line in Western favourites, including breakfasts and espresso coffee.

The fresh fruit juices are superb and there’s covered outdoor seating.

3) Nirvana The Veg Cafe (Pure Vegetarian)

Nirvana is a vegetarian restaurant with different cuisine where it offers Thai dishes, a good selection of dosas, pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, and noodles. The service is nice and friendly.

Places To Visit Near Bodh Gaya:

1.Nalanda University

The ancient university and Buddhist monastic centre southwest of Bihar Sharif in central Bihar state, northeastern India. Nalanda’s traditional history dates to the time of Buddha and Mahavira, the founding father of the Jaina religion.

According to a later Tibetan source, Nagarjuna began his studies there. Extensive excavations administered by the Archaeological Survey of India indicate, however, that the inspiration of the monasteries belongs to the Gupta period.

The powerful 7th-century ruler of Kanauj, Harshavardhana, is reported to have contributed to them.

During his reign, the Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang stayed at Nalanda for a few times and left a transparent account of the themes studied there and of the overall features of the community. Yijing, another Chinese pilgrim a generation later, also provided a momentary account of the lifetime of the monks.

Nalanda continued to flourish as a centre of learning under the Pala dynasty, and it became a centre of spiritual sculpture in stone and bronze. Nalanda was probably sacked during Muslim raids in Bihar and never recovered.

2.Rajgir

Rajgir was the traditional capital city of the kings of Magadha. Rajgir translates to “House of the King”. Rajgir pilgrimage may be a vital Buddhist site since Lord Buddha spent 12 years up here and also preached two sermons.

The primary Buddhist Council, after the attainment of Nirvana by the Buddha, was hosted up here within the Saptaparni caves. Buddha’s favourite retreat was at the Jivkamaravana monastery.

The Rajgir Buddhist pilgrimage is one of the foremost visited sites in India and has many structures inbuilt the Buddhist style of architecture.

3.Vaishali

Vaishali, Pali Vesali, north of Patna, in the Bihar state, on the Gandak River. In antiquity, Vaishali was the capital of the Licchavi republic and was closely related to the first histories of both Buddhism and Jainism. Roads joined Rajagriha to the south and Kapilavastu and Shravasti to the north.

Mahavira, the founding father of Jainism, was born in Vaishali and spent much time there. The Buddha also visited the town on many occasions. Its several important monasteries and shrines were described by the Chinese pilgrim Faxian within the 5th century CE.

After the death of Buddha, the second great council of Buddhists was held at Vaishali to supply rules of conduct.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bodh Gaya:

1)What currency is used at Bodhgaya?

The currency used in Bodh Gaya is Indian Rupee.

2) Which cellular Connection works best here?

BSNL and Jio 4G are available but airtel has connectivity issues.

3) What are the drinking laws here like?

Being a pilgrimage destination, drinking in Bodh Gaya is illegal. Some restaurants offer beer but hard drinks are difficult to find.

4) What is the tipping culture like in Bodhgaya?

It’s a common practice to tip the waiters at the restaurants 10% of the total bill amount if the service charge is not included. However, you are not expected to tip taxi drivers since everything in Bodh Gaya is within walking distance. Also if you are staying in a monastery, you are expected to donate money and not tip.

5) What languages are primarily spoken at Bodhgaya?

Magadhi and Hindi

6) What is the power output here?

Bihar electrical standards, the voltage output in Bodh Gaya is 220-240 volts. Either a three or two round pin plug is acceptable. If your charger has any other type of plug, remember to carry a plug adapter.

7) What is the domestic international calling code here?

+91 631

8) What is the number of tourism office at Bodhgaya?

+91-612-2225411

9) What is the best time to visit this place?

September to January.

10) What type of climate does Bodhgaya usually have?

The Bodh Gaya lies 124 meters above sea level Bodh Gaya’s climate is classified as warm and temperate.

11) What are the best hospitals at Bodhgaya?

Gaya Hospital Private Limited
Chand Chaura, Gaya, BR 823001, Phone: 0631- 3236134.

Pilgrim Hospital
Near Jama Masjid, State HighWay 7, Gaya Ho, Gaya – 823001, Phone: 0631- 2226201.

24-hour Verma Health Care Centre, Phone: 2201101.

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By Abhishek Saraswat

Abhishek (@himalayan_gypsy) is a travel photographer and blogger known as Himalayan Gypsy over the internet. Academically from an engineering background and born the Himalayan valley of Dehradun, he found himself in love with nature and ever since he has been on a journey to travel India and showcase the beauty of the country through his pictures, motivating and encouraging people on the go to feel the same and also take responsibilities to conserve our rich heritage, culture and environment. He is a Certified Digital Marketer and a Travel Influencer who is efficient to create visually appealing content for Travel Brands, Property Owners, Cafes and other Product Shoots. He also specializes in running Facebook & Instagram Ad Campaigns for Brand Awareness, Brand Promotion and Online Reputation Management.

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