Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodhgaya
The Mahabodhi Temple Complex, in Bihar, is one of the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment. Asoka visited Bodh Gaya around 260 B.C. and constructed the first temple near the Bodhi tree.
Fahien first makes reference to the main temple and the Bodhi tree in 404-05 C.E. Hieun Tsang, who visited the site in 637 C.E., mentions the presence of walls surrounding the Bodhi tree, within which stood the Mahabodhi temple. Several additions and alterations took place and the present temple may be datable to the 6th century C.E. During the 19th century, the Burmese kings made certain repairs, which were continued by the British in 1880-84.
The temple, one of the few surviving examples of early brick structures in India, covers an area of nearly 4.8 hectares and is 55 m in height. The sanctum carries a lofty pancharatha sikhara of a straight-edged pyramidal design, demarcated into seven storeys by bhumi-amalakas.
The sacred Bodhi tree stands to the west of the above temple. It is known as the pipal tree (Ficus religiosa) in India. It is believed that this tree is the direct descendant of the original tree under which Lord Buddha meditated.