PHOTO: Mahabodhi Temple, the Most Important Buddhist Pilgrimage Site in the World

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in India

Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. The original temple that stood upon this site in Bodh Gaya was erected by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C. to mark the spot where Buddha attained enlightenment. The 164-foot high Mahabodhi Temple we see today was built during the 5th and 6th centuries and is one of the earliest examples of a Buddhist temple constructed of brick. Over time, the complex grew to include six sacred sites where Buddha meditated after attaining nirvana, spending one week in each spot. A seventh sacred place, the Lotus Pond, is located just outside the enclosure. In addition to Mahabodhi Temple, Buddhists make pilgrimages to the site of Buddah’s birth in Lumbini, Nepal; the site where the Buddha, Siddartha Gautama, first taught the Dharma in Sarnath, India (near Varanasi); and the site of his parinirvana (death) in Kushinagar, India.

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