Mahabodhi temple (also called the Mahabodhi Mahavihar), is a Buddhist temple situated in the city of Bodh Gaya (which is known for being a Buddhist religious centre) in the east Indian state of Bihar .
It was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and marks the location where Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism is said to have attained enlightenment, before he founded Buddhism. The name of the temple literally translates to "Great Awakening Temple".
According to Buddhist scriptures, in around 589 (6th century) BCE, a prince called Siddhartha Gautama, witnessed the sufferings in the world to which he was oblivious for a long time, wanted to end it, and for this, he reached a place filled with forests (near what is today the city of Bodh Gaya), found a peepul tree with ample shade, and sat under it to meditate.
After three days and three nights, Prince Siddhartha is said to have attained enlightenment and the answers that he had sought to end these sufferings, and subsequently began walking on the path that came to be known as Buddhism, and attracted lots of followers, including the great Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE.
The tree came to be known as Bodhi Tree” (the tree of enlightenment) and at this spot, a temple (Mahabodhi Temple) was built by Emperor Ashoka in around 260 BCE.
Mahabodhi temple was bult by Maurya emperor Ashoka, and it was much rebuilt and restored iin later years. It is built entirely in brick. The main temple wall is around 11 m high, and manifests classical Indian temple architecture of those times.
The temple has entrances from east and north, and a low basement with moulded designs adorning it, and numerous images of the Buddha as well.
Mahabodhi temple is open to visitors between 5 AM and 9 PM every day, on all days of the week.
No entry fee is charged for entering the temple itself. However, if visitors want to use a camera to click photos, they need to pay INR 100, and visitors who need to use a video camera need to pay INR 300.
Bodh Gaya is in close proximity to Bihar state’s capital city Patna (around 96 kms), which is well connected to cities across India as well as other parts of the world. The city can be reached by air, rail or road.