Buddhism is the world’s fourth largest religion followed by over 520 million followers. Buddhism has spread its roots across the World to numerous places such as Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia – Myanmar and Thailand. Buddhism gained prominence in India with the help of ancient Mauryan emperor Ashoka. He was the first emperor who walked on the path of Buddhism and one of the key persons who made Buddhism popular in India by spreading its knowledge. Like all Indian religions, Buddhism was practised by following traditions that were set orally in ancient times. Lord Buddha’s teachings, interpretations and other early doctrines were passed from one generation to the next by word of mouth in monasteries.
Lord Buddha was born as Siddhartha to King Suddhodana and Queen Mayadevi in Lumbini under a Sal Tree. Later on, Lord Buddha began to search for the way that would free mankind or humanity from the cycle of suffering. Lord Buddha was wandering near river Niranjana to know the meaning of life. Afterwards, Lord Buddha sat in a meditative posture under peepal tree facing east on the full moon day of Vaisakha during the last watch of the night. It is the same moment when Lord Buddha attained Supreme enlightenment, subsequently he came to be known as Lord Buddha which means the All Knowing One, the All Compassionate One, one who can show us the truth to end all Suffering. The seat where he attained Enlightenment is called the ‘Vajrasana’ or the ‘Diamond Throne’ and the Tree under which he attained Enlightenment is recognized as the ‘Bodhi Tree’ the botanical name being the ‘Ficus Religiosa’.
Mahabodhi temple is an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination in India. Mahabodhi temple is also known as Bodhgaya Buddha temple. The architecture of this temple has been standing sturdily since Gupta period, it is entirely made up of bricks. The centre of the complex has 50 m high raised temple the Vajrasana, sacred Stupas and other smaller spiral towers. Mahabodhi temple showcases gilded statue of Lord Buddha in his famous Bhumisparsha Mudra with one finger touching the Earth. The temple retains Lord Buddha’s figurine seated in a meditative posture, facing east it has a serene look. It is believed that the idol is 1700 years old and the statue is sitting in the exact posture when he attained enlightenment. Apart from this, there is a stone with Buddha’s footsteps and a standing figure which looks upon at worshippers on “Bodhgaya Pilgrimage” as they pray inside the Mahabodhi temple. The temple has a shrine made up of diamond that was erected by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.
Buddhist circuit in India lets the Buddhists or pilgrims’ worship and glance or explore Mahabodhi temple and Bodhi tree closely. Bodhi tree is considered as a significant holy site, with Mahabodhi temple retaining Buddhist artefacts and relics. Apart from the Diamond throne, there are seven other spots within the whole premises that are also directly associated with the Lord Buddha’s life and his sacred teachings.
Pilgrims can take the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage not only to Mahabodhi temple but also to other holy Buddhist destinations such as Venuvana Monastery, Varanasi, Dhamekh Stupa, Sarnath Museum, Rambhar Stupa, Mayadevi temple and many more across India on the Buddhist circuit tour in India.