The Mahabodhi Mahavihara or more popularly known as the Mahabodhi Temple or the Great Stupa, is one of the shrines out of the 84000 shrines erected by King Ashoka the Great in the 3rd B.C and its precinct is the most important place in Buddha Gaya . The Mahabodhi Temple magnificent is the sole surviving example of what was once an architectural genre.
This is the place where the Buddha attained supreme Enlightment in the 6th Century B.C. It was during the region of King Paddies Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C. that this place come into prominence. He started construction works by making the Vajrasana or Diamond throne- the seat the Englightment. Thereafter he built a stupa in veneration of the Buddha which remained their up to the 2nd century A.D. It was during this period that Buddhism was divided into two seats Hinayana and Mahayana. The Kind who professed and support Buddhism at that time were all practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism . This was also the period during which started images worship in Buddhism
Thus , to install an image of Buddha inside the stupa it was broken open and since then started the process of establishment of the great edifice of veneration that we see today . The whole structure was completed sometime in the 7th century A.D during the region of the Gupta period.
In the Mahabodhi temple complex one can also visit the other seven places where the Buddha spent in meditation after the attainment of Enlightenment . All these places are situated inside the complex and once can be guided there with the help of marble signage located on spot.
Thoughout the centuries , this blessed site has retained its deep spiritual vibration and inspired countless being toward a saintly life and the Vihara itself stands out as an eye catching artistic landmark as if standing toward the presences of the greatest Teacher of all time mankind has ever witnessed.
This marks the sacred spot of the Buddha,s meditative perambulation during this third week after the pious enlightenment. It is believed that where the Buddha put his feet lotus had sprang up.
The Mahbodhi temple underwent several restoration , renovation and repairs in subsequent period by a number of devout kings , donors and philanthropist of home and aboard . A very through renovation of the temple was taken up during 1874 by the deputation of the Burmes King Mindon – Min, with th permission of the Government of India but subsequently completed in 1884 under the supervision of Sir Alexander Cunnigham and Begalar . This temple suffered much and the hand of time due to man made miseries and natural calamities especially during the region of the Hindu King Shashanka of Gour.
The image enshrined in the Mahabodhi temple was considered especially wondrous . It height of more than two metres makes it the largest surviving seated Buddha image which is created through the black stone, which are painted in gold by the pilgrims. The gilded image of the budha seated cross legged with one one hand pointing to earth, i.e in the attitude of the Bhumisparsa Mudra in which Sakyamuni sat when the he attained enlightenment . This sculptural represtation of the Buddha is unique with its calm facial expression and superb physical beauty . All the pilgirms from all over the world offer prayer at the feet of the large image of the Buddha installed in the ground floor of the Mahavihara facing east . Its great seize may indicate that it once served as the centra.
The Mahabodhi temple has been declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO on the 27th June 2002 . We wish that your visit to the Enlightenment is a fruitful and memorable one.