Mahabodhi Temple Complex at
Bodh Gaya (2002)
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|The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is one of the four holy sites related to the
life of the Lord Buddha, and particularly to the attainment of Enlightenment.
The first temple was built by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B.C., and the
present temple dates from the 5th or 6th centuries. It is one of the earliest
Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing in India, from the late
||The shrine at Bodh Gaya is the only surviving example of
Mahayana Buddhist architecture that flourished in the Gangetic region
during the first millennium. During the early period of Mauryan rule (400
B.C. to 250 B.C.), wood was the chief building material. This period was
followed by an important phase of building in brick, and it is to this
phase that the temple of Bodh Gaya belongs.
As it stands today, this temple gives but a poor idea of what its original design must have been, for its falling walls have been reinforced and restored numerous times through the years. The building consists of a plinth on which rests a square pyramidal tower, 180 feet from the ground. Each corner of the plinth has a small replica of the central tower, so that the shrine corresponds to a panchayatana Hindu temple. The front of the building has a large niche in which an impressive image of the preaching Buddha is enshrined. The image must originally have been approached by a tall flight of steps, the entire structure being enclosed in a railing which was perhaps accessed through an arched gateway or torana. Within the courtyard there is an Ashokan lion pillar, on each side of which is a colossal yaksha (celestial) figure.
Sources and links:
Other World Heritage Sites in India (on this website). Inactive links are not described on postage stamps. Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, India-section, for further information on the individual properties.
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Revised 21 jul 2006