Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous for being the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala).


The place-name, Bodh Gaya, did not come into use until the 18th century BCE. Historically, it was known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi. The main monastery of Bodh Gaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vih?ra (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple.


For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The surrounding town, by contrast, is dusty and somewhat noisy. A new development plan has been proposed to "ensure a sustainable and prosperous future" for Bodh Gaya, but has become controversial because such a plan may require the relocation of whole neighborhoods.





Rajgir or Rajgriha is easily accessible from Bodh Gaya and Patna. Rajagriha means the Royal Palace. Rajgir was the ancient capital city of the Magadha kings before Pataliputra, from around 800 B.C. Rajgir is surrounded by the hills and lush green forests in a valley. Lord Mahavir spent 14 rainy seasons in Rajgir and the 20th century Tirthankara was also born here. This place is a sacred pilgrimage centre for both the Buddhists and Jains as it is associated with the Buddha and Lord Mahavir, who taught here for many years. Rajgir has also become a popular health resort due to the natural hot springs.


History of Rajgir

The Buddha liked Rajgir and often came here to retreat at the Jivakamaravana monastery in a beautiful orchard. One of his most devoted and prosperous devotees and surgeon Jivaka also lived here. The rich merchant community also soon became the Buddha's followers and built many structures of typical Buddhist architecture in Rajgir. The Buddha also converted the great Mauryan king Bimbisara, one of his most celebrated followers at the Griddhakuta hill, where he delivered many of his sermons as well. The Buddha also spent most of his summers on one of its hills which is now the main pilgrimage centre. After the Buddha reached 'parinirvana' his followers met at the first Buddhist Council ever held. It was here that the teachings of the Buddha were written down for the first time.

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