Bodh Gaya is a town in Gaya district that is located about 96 km from Patna, capital of Bihar, a state in east India.
The sacredness of Bodh Gaya as a religious site and place of pilgrimage is centered on the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in Bihar. The Mahabodhi Temple complex is hallowed because of the fact that Gautama Buddha obtained unsurpassed enlightenment (Bodhimandala) under the sacred Bodhi Tree.
The Mahabodhi Temple complex, located about 110 kilometres from Patna, contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the Diamond throne and the holy Bodhi tree. The Bodhi Tree in the complex is said to be a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, which is grown from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree.
Bodh Gaya, Kushinagar, Lumbini and Sarnath are the holy pilgrimage sites for Buddhist as these locations are directly related to the life of Lord Buddha. The most sacred of them is Bodh Gaya. The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.
It is said that Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya about three centuries after Buddha attained enlightenment. Ashoka is credited as the founder of the original Mahabodhi temple. Some historians speculate that the temple was either constructed or renovated in the 1st century during the Kushan period.
Eventually when Buddhism declined in India, the temple remained abandoned and ignored, covered by sand and dust. In 1883, Sir Alexander Cunningham along with J. D. Beglar and Dr Rajendralal Miitra restored the temple. They first uncovered the buried temple by excavating. After that, an arduous task of renovation was carried out to restore Bodh Gaya to its former glory. It stands at height of 55 meters which can be viewed from a distance of 11 km.
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