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Bodh Gaya[dead link] is a town in the state of Bihar. It was the site of the Buddha Shakyamuni's enlightenment, and is the most revered of all Buddhist sacred sites and is part of the Buddhist Circuit.

The main temple complex houses the famous Mahabodhi temple/stupa and a descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. There are also temples or monasteries from many other nations with a Buddhist tradition such as Thailand, Tibet and Japan.

The town is a popular spot for tourists from across the Buddhist world. Consequently, a large tourist industry has sprung up along with huge numbers of unscrupulous hustlers, scammers, and beggars, but strict security ensures that that those who indulge in these activities do not disturb the atmosphere inside the stupa compound.

Understand[edit]

The Mahabodhi Temple

The man who became the Buddha was born in Lumbini, now in Nepal. He was the son of the local ruler, raised in some luxury and well-educated by the standards of the place and time. As a young man he became a seeker of knowledge, giving up luxuries, travelling a good deal, and learning from several teachers. Bodh Gaya is where he achieved enlightenment while meditating under a tree.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The nearest airport is at Gaya (10 km) - Druk Air flies from Paro once a week from November to March. Thai Airways flies to Gaya daily. Air India flies from several destinations including Kolkata and Delhi.

Alternatively, you may take a flight to Patna Airport (110 km away) and take a train or a taxi to Bodh Gaya as Patna has multiple daily direct flights to Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

By car[edit]

The road from Patna to Bodh Gaya is very rough and narrow, making the three-hour journey feel much longer.

By train[edit]

The nearest railway station is Gaya, 16 km away. From there you can take a bus or a three-wheel taxi (rickshaw) to Bodh Gaya. Rickshaw prices are variable, but the going rate was ₹20 for shared ride or ₹150 for entire rickshaw no matter what time of the day in April 2015. There is rarely a shortage of rickshaws.

The train from Patna to Gaya costs ₹25 for passenger train and ₹50 for express non-reserved seat. The fastest express trains in the early morning take about two and half hours and slow passenger trains take about four hours, which is still comparable to buses. Trains leave one to two hour interval.

Best train travel from Kolkata is about 8 hours; from Delhi, about 15 hours (2nd class air con costs ₹161 - book upstairs at Gaya station then pay downstairs at window 29).

The Bodh Gaya train booking office is located opposite the Bank of India (just past the Thai Temple - about 1km from the centre of town)

By bus[edit]

  • Bihar State Tourist Development Corporation, +91 612 225411. runs seasonal deluxe bus services to and from Patna.

Departing from:

  • Kolkata. Daily 4:30 (Sri Ram Travels - non-A/C sleeper), 5PM (Maharani Express - A/C sleeper), 7PM Bengal Tiger - A/C sleeper). Respectively, ₹450, ₹650, ₹1,100. 11-12 hours.
  • Siliguri. Daily, 3PM from Siliguri Bus Station (Jay Jagdambey Bus Company - A/C sleeper). ₹699. Approx 17 hours. .

Private buses leave in the morning from Varanasi, Nalanda, and Rajgir. In addition, from November to March, special services ply the route from Phuentsholing through Siliguri.

Get around[edit]

Map
Map of Bodh Gaya

By car[edit]

By far the most convenient way to get around Bodh Gaya are the auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws, and tourist taxis. As always, make sure to bargain and agree on a price before setting out on the trip. The costs are usually quite low; a few rupees will likely get you most places in the city.

By foot[edit]

Bodh Gaya is very walkable. Most of the major destinations and are within 2 km (about a half-hour walk) from the Mahabdohi Temple complex. There are lots of pilgrims visiting for much of the year, so the streets will have people in them.

See[edit]

Most temples open from 6AM to sunset and close between noon and 2PM.

  • 1 Mahabodhi Temple (Maha Bodhi Maha Vihara), +91 631 220 0735. 5AM-9PM. The site where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. This complex is large and contains a number of major attractions within it. One common way of visiting the statue is to "walk in the steps" of the Buddha. It is said that, after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha spent seven weeks in what is now Mahabodhi temple meditating on the nature of what he had discovered. There are several spots in the temple that relate to this tradition. Since the bombing incident in 2013, the temple has been under enhanced security. No laptop, mobile phone, or camera are allowed into the temple ground. The temple is open from 6AM to 9PM. There is no dress code, though visitors are expected to act in a way that respects the sacred nature of the site and expresses courtesy to others. See: Buddhism Mahabodhi Temple (Q4513) on Wikidata Mahabodhi Temple on Wikipedia
    • Bodhi Tree: During the first week, the Buddha remained under the Bodhi tree. A descendant of this tree can be seen on the western side of the temple today.
    • Animeshlocha Stupa: During the second week, the Buddha sat in a spot and stared at the Bodhi tree. This spot is now the Animeshlocha Stupa, or "unblinking stupa," where a statue of Buddha sits staring at the tree in the northern part of the temple.
    • Ratnachakrama: During the third week, the Buddha paced back and forth between the tree and the stupa. This path is marked by the Ratnachakrama (Jewelled Ambulatory), which is near the north wall of the main temple. Lotuses sprang up from where he walked, and today, there are raised stone lotuses marking his steps.
    • Ratnaghar Chaitya: This is the spot where Buddha spent the fourth week, to the northeastern part of the temple.
    • Ajapala Nigrodh Pillar: The Buddha spent the fifth week meditating and answering the questions of the Brahmans under the Ajapala Nigrodh tree, a spot which is commemorated with a large pillar, on the central path past the east entrance.
    • Lotus Pond: The Buddha spent the sixth week next to the Lotus Pond, to the south of the main complex.
    • Rajyatana Tree: The seventh and final week was spent under the Rajyatana Tree, whose spot is marked in the southeastern corner of the temple with an actual tree.
  • 2 Archaeological Museum (Oppos. Jaiprakash Park). Sa-Th. ₹10.
  • 3 Bodhgaya Multimedia Museum (next to the Mahabodhi Temple), +91 99778545. Open daily. Museum provides the historical and geographical context for the life of Buddha through a set of multimedia films and 3D animation movie.
  • Gandhen Phelgye Ling Monastery (Namgyal Monastery, Bodh Gaya). A monastery with close ties to the Dalai Lama.
The colossal 80-foot Buddha Statue in Bodh Gaya
  • 4 The Great Buddha Statue (The 80-foot Buddha Statue), Great Buddha Statue Road, Bodh Gaya, +91 631-2200-747, fax: +91 631-2200-407, . 7AM-noon, 2-6PM (5:30PM in winter). This statue is also called the "80-foot Buddha Statue" due to its impressive 25-metre height. Constructed by the nearby Daijokyo Buddhist Temple in 1989, the spectacular statue attracts pilgrims and tourists alike. Note: the contact information is for the Daijokyo Temple, which operates the statue.
  • 5 Japanese Temple (Indosan Nipponji), Temple Road, +91 2200743. 5AM-noon, 2-6PM. A beautiful temple with a calm garden. Great place to meditate.
  • Karma Dhargye Chokhorling Monastery. Beru Khyentse Rinpoche
  • Phowa Center. Choeje Ayang Rinpoche
  • 6 Taiwanese Temple (World Changhwa Buddhist Sangha). A peaceful temple that also serves as a great example of Chinese architecture. A short walk from Mahabodhi.
  • Tergar Monastery. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • 7 Thai Monastery, Mastipur, +91 99312 79251.

Do[edit]

Buddha statue in Mahabodhi Temple

Bodh Gaya is essentially a pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and all of its main attractions are related to this. The subsidiary tourist industry that has grown up around it (shopping, eating, and accommodation) is not really the main attraction. However, there are a number of shops in the main town that specialize in cheap souvenirs that are specific to Bodh Gaya, which may be of interest to some pilgrims.

The main activity for pilgrims is to circumambulate the stupa and to practice meditation under the bodhi tree. Non-Buddhists may just savour the peaceful and refined atmosphere in and around the stupa. The lighting that was installed in 2020 has brought an especially warm and serene ambience to the main site, making the evening a good time to time to walk around the stupa or to just sit quietly under the tree.

  • Kagyu Monlam Chenmo. In late December and early January (it corresponds to the fourth through eleventh days of the first month on the Tibetan calendar), a large prayer festival (Monlam) takes place.
  • Nyingma Monlam Chenmo. Prayer festival, January/February
  • Siddhartha Festival. A bi-annual event held in October or November, The festival aims to celebrate the life and teachings of the Buddha. Conducted under the auspices of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche.

Learn[edit]

While there is plenty to learn from just walking around in Bodh Gaya, there are some institutions that offer instruction specifically geared toward travellers and pilgrims.

  • 1 Root Institute, +91 631 220 0714. Office hours: 8:30-11:30AM, 1:30-4:30PM. The Root Institute is a Buddhist spiritual institute which offers courses for travellers wishing to learn more about Mahayana Buddhism as well as the culture and wisdom of India. Courses last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks and a list of the dates they offer courses can be found here.

Eat[edit]

Many restaurants and cafes are seasonal, and so from the beginning of April untito the end of September many of the places listed will be closed.

  • 1 Bowl of Compassion Cafe, Bodhgaya (Opposite the police station). 10AM-11PM. Newly set-up restaurant serving delicious Indian and international cuisine, with connections to the nearby Bowl of Compassion NGO. Patrons can choose special "Compassion meals", where the extra money goes towards helping the poor of the Tikha Bigha Village. Volunteers welcome. ₹20-100.
  • 2 Fujia Green (a little out of the way around the south side of the sports oval). The Japanese options are surprisingly good (although not authentic). Big portions. ₹30-120.
  • 3 Hari Om Cafe, +92 72 50 956999, . Very cute cafe that offers a variety of food (they advertise themselves as offering "American (New), Chinese, Indian/Pakistani, Japanese and Thai"). Very inexpensive as well. Also offers free Wi-Fi.
  • 4 Lotus Restaurant, +91 78 70 000034. Next to Fujia Green restaurant. A nice place with a lot of Indian options. Fairly inexpensive.
  • 5 Mahayama Restaurant, +91 631 220 0221, . Breakfast 6-11AM, lunch 11AM-3PM, dinner 5-11PM. A restaurant inside Hotel Mahayama (but open to non-guests). Offers good food and is extremely close to the temple complex (~2 minutes walking).
  • 6 Mohammed's Restaurant, Birla Dharamshala Rd, +91 94312 89084. Lovely restaurant with food options from a variety of countries. Good Wi-Fi and a fun atmosphere.
  • 7 Samim Thai Restaurant, +91 88 04 623766, . Fairly good Thai food for very good prices. Not authentic Thai, but still pretty good. Very close to Mahabodhi Temple. ₹130-350.
  • 8 Tibet Om Cafe, Inside Namgyal Monastery court yard gate, +91 72779 40832. Excellent pastries, specializes in Tibetan dishes. ₹30-100.

Drink[edit]

Coffee[edit]

  • 9 Be Happy Cafe, Kalachakra Ground (Behind Namgyal Monastery - follow signs), +91 87971 18390. A cosy cafe run by a Canadian woman. The cafe specializes in thin crust pizzas, Italian pastas, sandwiches in thick bread, freshly made cakes, homemade granola for breakfast and a variety of coffees. Shaded terrace seating among flowers.
  • 10 Kirti Guesthouse Cafe, Main town, +91 631 220 0744. A simple cafe with good coffee. Excellent breakfasts. Outdoor seating.

Alcohol[edit]

While there are no alcohol outlets in Bodh Gaya, hotels and guesthouses serve beer (₹100-150), provided it is drunk indoors out of public view.

Sleep[edit]

Monasteries[edit]

Monastery guest houses offer a cheap alternative to hotels, though guests are expected to adhere to their house rules. They do not charge fixed nightly rates, but instead accept donations (ask other guests for the going rate). There is a whole string of guesthouses just opposite the park from the Mahabodhi Temple. All pretty much the same well maintained with restaurants on the ground floor at around ₹200 a single. Another group of mostly simple guesthouses is north of Kalachakra Maidan.

  • 1 Bhutan Monastery. Pleasant but basic single and family rooms, some with private bathroom
  • 2 Burmese Vihara, Gaya Road. Very basic accommodation. The Vihara exists mainly to cater to groups of Burmese pilgrims, but there are often rooms available for others. Rules are posted prominently. Food service is only for those arriving in groups, and by prior arrangement.
  • 3 Maha Bodhi Society of India (Sri Lankan Temple), Bodhgaya, +91 7484880598, toll-free: +91 6312200742, . Check-in: noon, check-out: noon. Private rooms and dorms available. 5 min walk from Mahabodhi Temple. Clean and comfortable. Observe rules and respect for the temple. Join them for daily Puja sessions (40 min) in the morning and evening.
  • Sakya Monastery Guesthouse, Mastipur Village (Near Bhutan Monastery), +91 631 2200770. Clean, simple, friendly, peaceful and calm environment.
  • 4 Siddhartha Vihar, Bihar Tourist Complex, +91 631 220-0445. Simple, but comfortable rooms.
  • Shechen Guesthouse, Main town, +91 631 220 0650. Cosy twin bed rooms. Some with shared bathroom. Others with private bathroom. Quiet and centrally located.
  • Taiwan Temple, +91 2200503. A pleasant guesthouse in a convenient location.

Budget[edit]

  • 5 Kundan Bazar Guest House, Bhagalpur Village (near Old Vietnam Temple), +91 6312200049, . Single rooms to full-service apartments, bike rentals, internet cafe, book, gift, and clothing shop, snooker bar, self-service kitchen, laundry facility, tour packages, and more
  • 6 Rahul Guesthouse (Less than 100 m north of Kalachakra Maidan.). Check-out: Noon. Amazingly clean rooms, with medium customer service. Some rooms have access to common balconies. Single from ₹200, Double from ₹250.
  • 7 Rainbow Guesthouse, next to Burmese Vihara on Gaya Road, +91 94312 80810. Basic rooms, are cleaned more thoroughly on request, friendly and reliable staff. ₹1000-1500.
  • 8 Welcome Guest House, 2 mins walk from Tamplenear Mahabodhi Temple (opp-jayprakash prak), +91 631 2200377, . Check-out: Noon. Welcome Guest House offers cheap and pleasant rooms in the center of town.

Mid-range[edit]

  • 9 Hotel Sujata, Buddha Marg, +91 631 220 0481, fax: +91 631 220-0511, . Clean environment and good restaurant. ₹5000-7200.
  • Marasa Sarovar Premiere, Ward No 5, Newataur, Newtapu, +91 631 220 0222, fax: +91 631 220-0181. Stylish rooms. Outdoor swimming people.International restaurant. ₹6000-8500.
  • 10 Royal Residency, Domuhan Road, +91 631 220-0124, fax: +91 631 220-0181. Comfortable rooms with Japanese style same-sex communal hot tub. Two-story building with acceptable quality and services. Dining facilities are good. ₹6000-8500.

Splurge[edit]

Connect[edit]

Internet[edit]

Many of the restaurants listed in the "Eat" section provide free WiFi.

Respect[edit]

Temples[edit]

Monks participating in prayer at Mahabodhi Temple

As in many sacred places, you must take off your shoes before entering the inner parts of the main Mahabodhi Temple complex, as well as any of the monasteries around the area. In fact, due to this, it is recommend you wear sandals or shoes that are easy to slip on and off. A guideline more specific to Mahabodhi is to circumambulate the stupa and other sacred objects in a clock-wise direction. Although it should go without saying, do not climb onto statues, monuments and other sacred objects.

As it is a very religious town filled with pilgrims and monks, dressing modestly is a sign of respect. Loose-fitting clothing should suffice.

Sacred cow doctrine[edit]

As India is the home of the sacred cow doctrine, seeing cows wandering the streets of Bodh Gaya is not an uncommon sight. It is illegal to strike or otherwise offend cows, so refrain from doing this. Furthermore, be sure drivers of any rickshaws you are in are cautious, as hitting a cow with a vehicle is a very serious crime. Foreigners have been fined heavily for these offences.

Beggars[edit]

For a non-Indian it is almost impossible to walk twenty meters in the streets without being accosted. Riksha-Wallahs and the hordes of beggars, particularly the groups of children sent to beg instead of going to school, are much more persistent than in other places.

Go next[edit]

  • Deo, Bihar – Visit this place for a glimpse of Famous Sun Temple.
  • Kolkata - The cultural capital of north east India. 11-13 hours by bus or train.
  • Nalanda – This Buddhist university was established in 450CE. There are extensive ruins, but no inhabitants. Nalanda Museum is open 10AM-5PM daily except Friday. Shared jeeps plying the route between Rajgir and Bihar Sharif make a stop at the turnoff for Nalanda. Rickshaws and other vehicles are available from there to the main gate, a distance of 2 km. PWD operates a guest house near the gate.
  • Patna - 130 km by road, deluxe buses for Patna available from BSTDC (enquiry phone No. +91 631 220 0672) Bodhgaya Hotel (7AM, 2PM daily). Local and express trains from Gaya Junction.
  • Rajgir – The site of Gridhakuta (Vulture's Peak), where the Buddha stayed and gave teachings on the Mahayana (the second turning of the wheel), and Venuvana, the first Buddhist monastery. Rajgir is also an area known for its hot springs, which are open to the public. There are daily bus tours that depart from behind the Birla temple (close to Cafe OM) and cover Rajgir, Nalanda and around 10 to 12 other interesting sights on the way. These buses leave at around 8AM and return at 7PM. Be ready for a really bumpy ride, which is well worth the effort. Charges are surprisingly low. If you ask any travel agent within Bodh Gaya about this, they will most likely not tell you about this cheap option. It is preferable to book your tickets a day in advance, as at times there are large groups of pilgrims. If you want to venture out on your own, there is an option of changing buses at Bihar Sharif.
  • Sarnath: Sarnath is another of the four main pilgrimage sites in Buddhism. It is a suburb of the holy city of Varanasi.
  • Siliguri - One of India's most liberal cities. Gateway to Darjeeling, Sikkim, Bhutan, and North-East India Buses at 1PM (Jai-Jagdamba Travels) and 3PM (Sameer Travels). Journey takes around 17 hours.
  • Varanasi - buses at 6AM (local bus - 7-8 hours) and 4PM (A/C bus - around 6 hours) - Jai-Jagdamba Travels.



This city travel guide to Bodh Gaya is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.