Bodh Gaya - Where Buddha found enlightenment
Bodh Gaya is located in the state of Bihar near the large town of Gaya which is 450km west of Calcutta and 90km south of Patna. Gaya is connected to the Delhi-Calcutta train line so it's possible to visit here from either city or from Varanasi. Bodh Gaya is 13km away from Gaya so you will have to take an auto rickshaw from the station.
Bodh Gaya is famous for being the site where Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment whilst meditating on the causes of human suffering whilst sitting under a Bodhi tree 2,500 years ago. After he found the answers he was seeking, he became enlightened and then became the Buddha - the Enlightened One. The Bodhi tree, today, is actually an offspring of the original tree. Beside the tree lies the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mahabodhi Temple that dates from the 6th century on the site of an earlier temple built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. The whole site is a major pilgrimage centre for Buddhists, westerners and, surprisingly, Hindu's as Buddha is said to be the ninth incarnation of Vishnu. Around the area of the temple are a number of modern Buddhist temples and monasteries that have been built by the people of Bhutan, China, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam. These buildings reflect the architectural style, exterior and interior decoration of their respective countries and are well worth a visit as is the large Buddha statue which was opened by the Dalal Lama, (who visits Bodh Gaya in December and January), in 1989.