The Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya. under the Bodhi tree, 10 kms. from Gaya, the ancient Hindu pilgrimage centre. The tree from the original sapling still stands in the temple premises. It is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centre as Buddhism was born here. The magnificent Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is an architectural amalgamation of many centuries, cultures and heritages that came to pay their homage here. The temple definitely has architecture of the Gupta and later ages, inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7th and 10th century AD. It is perhaps still the same temple Hiuen Tsang visited in the 7th century.
Around Bodh Gaya
Vajrasila : The red sandstone slab, the Vajrasila, under the Bodi tree marks the place where Gautama sat in meditation. Today, pilgrims tie pieces of coloured cloth on its branches when they come to pray.
Animesh Lochana : It is another sacred spot where the Buddha stood to gaze in gratitude at the Bodhi tree for a week. The temple also attracts Hindu pilgrims since the Buddha is considered to be one of the avataras or incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Monasteries : Most countries with a large Buddhist population have a temple or monastery here, usually built in a representative architectural style. Courses and retreats take place in winter, mainly from October to early February.
Japanese Temple : A giant Buddha Statue in stone, 20 mts. tall on a 5 mts. base stands at the end of the road, beyond the Japanese Temple which was installed in 1989. The modern 2 storey, spotless Japanese Temple next door with beautiful polished marble floors has gold images of the Buddha. Across the road is the Daijokyo Temple.
Tibetan Temple : The temple and monastery is ornately painted and has a Dharmachakra (Wheel of Law) which must be turned three times when praying for forgiveness of sins. A large 2 mts. metal ceremonial drum in red and gold is also on display.
Nipponji Temple : It houses a free clinic, monastery and a Peace Bell.
Bhutan Temple : This colourful temple is protected by carved Himalayan dieties.
Thai Temple : A glittering pagoda-style Thai temple looks very much like the colourful wats you see in Thailand.
Chinese Temple : It houses an enormous, revolving ceremonial prayer drum. A new Tibetan temple, Shenchen Tenyi, Dargeyling has been built next door.
Burmese Temple : The Burmese, who led the campaign to restore the Mahabodhi temple in the 19th century built their present monastery in 1936. There are also Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Korean, Taiwanese and Bangladeshi Monasteries. The Tai Bodhi Kham Monastery was built by tribes from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
Sasaram : This Muslim site, between Gaya and Varanasi, is on the Grand Trunk Road, the famous Indian Highway built by Sher Shar in the mid-16th century. The impressive mausoleum of Sher Shar, who died in 1545, is worth a visit. There's also the tomb of Haran Khan (Sher Shar's father) and several other Muslim monuments.
Arrah (Arra) : The scene of a fierce siege during the 1857 mutiny, is 60 kms. from Sasaram. The Little House of Arrah, the Defence House, the Church which contains several plaques are the various attractions. Arrah is on a branch of one of the great irrigation works in Bihar, the Son canals.
Maner : One of the earliest Islamic centres in Bihar, Maner lies 30 kms. from Patna and was named after the 13th century Sufi saint, Hazrat Mukhdum Vahiya Maneri. The tomb, the Bodi Dargah, is a very sacred shrine. The Chotti Dargah, a mausoleum commemorating the Muslim saints disciple, Shah Daulat, is famous for its architectural interest. An annual Urs fair is held here.
Biharsharif: 13 kms. from Nalanda, Biharsharif remained an Islamic cultural centre upto the 16th century. The dargahs (tombs) of Mukhdoom Shah, a 13th century saint and Malik Ibrahim Baya, draws large number of Muslims, particularly during the annual Urs fair.
Dhanbad : This centre of coal mining and industries lies 171 kms. from Jamshedpur and is famous for the picturesque Topchanchi lake nearby. Bokaro Steel Complex is 47 kms. away.