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Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala) under what became known as the Bodhi Tree.For Buddhists, Bodh Gaya is the most important of the main four pilgrimage sites related to the life of Gautama Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History

Bodh Gaya is the most holy place for the followers of the Buddhist faith all over the world. Situated by the bank of river Neranjana the place was then known as Uruwela. King Ashoka was the first to build a temple here. Traditionally, Buddha was born in 563 BC in what is now Nepal on the following auspicious Baisakhi purnima. As Siddhartha, he renounced his family at the age of 29 in 534 BC and travelled and meditated in search of truth. After meditating for six years at Urubela (Buddhagaya) in Gaya, he attained Buddhatva or enlightenment. Enlightenment is a state of having infinite knowledge, and being able to accomplish the Noble and Universal truths. By gaining enlightenment, you enter Nirvana, in which the final stage is Parinirvana. At this place, the Buddha was abandoned by the five men who had been his companions of earlier austerities. All they saw was an ordinary man; they mocked his well-nourished appearance. "Here comes the mendicant Gautama," they said, "who has turned away from asceticism. He is certainly not worth our respect." When they reminded him of his former vows, the Buddha replied, "Austerities only confuse the mind. In the exhaustion and mental stupor to which they lead, one can no longer understand the ordinary things of life, still less the truth that lies beyond the senses. I have given up extremes of either luxury or asceticism. I have discovered the Middle Way". This is the path which is neither easy (a rich prince) nor hard (living in austere conditions practicing self-denial). Hearing this, the five ascetics became the Buddha's first disciples in Deer Park, Sarnath, 13 km n.e. of Benares. The disciples of Gautama Siddhartha began to visit the place during the full moon in the month of Vaisakh (April–May), as per the Hindu calendar. Over time, the place became known as Bodh Gaya, the day of enlightenment as Buddha Purnima, and the tree as the Bodhi Tree. The history of Bodh Gaya is documented by many inscriptions and pilgrimage accounts. Foremost among these are the accounts of the Chinese pilgrims Faxian in the 5th century and Xuanzang in the 7th century. The area was at the heart of a Buddhist civilization for centuries, until it was conquered by Turkic armies in the 13th century. The place-name, Bodh Gaya, did not come into use until the 18th century CE. Historically, it was known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi.The main monastery of Bodh Gaya used to be called the Bodhimanda-vihāra (Pali). Now it is called the Mahabodhi Temple.

Mahabodhi Temple

The complex, located about 110 kilometres from Patna,contains the Mahabodhi Temple with the diamond throne (called the Vajrasana) and the holy Bodhi tree. This tree was originally a sapling of the Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Sri Lanka, itself grown from a sapling of the original Bodhi tree. It is believed that about 280 years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya. He is considered to be the founder of the original Mahabodhi temple. It consisted of an elongated spire crowned by a miniature stupa and a chhatravali on a platform. A double flight of steps led up to the platform and the upper sanctum. The mouldings on the spire contained Buddha images in niches. Some historians believe that the temple was constructed or renovated in the 1st century during the Kushan period. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and forgotten, buried under layers of soil and sand. The temple was later restored by Sir Alexander Cunningham in the late 19th century.In 1883, Cunningham along with J. D. Beglar and Dr Rajendralal Miitra painstakingly excavated the site. Extensive renovation work was carried out to restore Bodh Gaya to its former glory. It has a height of 55 metres which can be viewed from a distance of 11 km.

Transportation

Bodhgaya is about 12 km from Gaya City. The NH83 Highway connects Gaya and Bodh Gaya. The State Tourism Department provides travel facility from Patna to Bodh Gaya. You can also visit Nirvanacab.com, if you requre any kind of cab, taxi,car rental,bus service facilities in Bihar or in Patna. Regular train and bus service for Gaya are available from Kolkata, which is an overnight journey. Regular AC Buses have been introduced by BSTDC between Patna and Bodh Gaya via Rajgir. A special caravan service called Wonder on Wheel, between Patna and Bodh Gaya, has been introduced by Bihar Tourism Deptt. Gaya International Airport Bodh Gaya International Airport is situated 7 km from Bodh Gaya and approximately 10 km from Gaya Railway Station.

Rajgir

Rajgir is a city and a notified area in Nalanda district in the Indian state of Bihar. The city of Rajgir (ancient Rajgraha) was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire. Its date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have been found in the city. This area also notable in Buddhism and Jainism as one of the favorite places for Mahavira and Gautama Buddha and the well known "Atanatiya" conference was held at Vulture's Peak mountain.

History

The name Rajgir came from Rājagṛiha 'house of the king' or "royal house", or the word rajgir might have its origin in its plain literal meaning, "royal mountain". It was the ancient capital city of the Magadha kings until the 5th century BC when Ajatashatru moved the capital to Pataliputra. In those days, it was called Rajgrih, which translates as 'the home of Royalty'. The epic Mahabharata calls it Girivraja and recount the story of its king, Jarasandha, and his battle with the Pandava brothers and their allies Krishna. Jarasandha who hailed from this place, had been defeated by Krishna 17 times. The 18th time Krishna left the battlefield without fighting.Because of this Krishna is also called 'ranachorh' (one who has left the battlefield). Mahabharata recounts a wrestling match between Bhima (one of the Pandavas) and Jarasandha, the then king of Magadha. Jarasandha was invincible as his body could rejoin any dismembered limbs. According to the legend, Bhim split Jarasandha into two and threw the two halves facing opposite to each other so that they could not join. There is a famous Jarasandha's Akhara (place where martial arts are practiced). It is also mentioned in Buddhist and Jain scriptures, which give a series of place-names, but without geographical context. The attempt to locate these places is based largely on reference to them and to other locations in the works of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, particularly Faxian and Xuanzang. It is on the basis of Xuanzang in particular that the site is divided into Old and New Rajgir. The former lies within a valley and is surrounded by low-lying hills, Rajgir hills. It is defined by an earthen embankment (the Inner Fortification), with which is associated the Outer Fortification, a complex of cyclopean walls that runs (with large breaks) along the crest of the hills. New Rajgir is defined by another, larger, embankment outside the northern entrance of the valley and next to the modern town. It is sacred to the memory of the founders of both the religions: Buddhism and Jainism and associated with both the historical Buddha and Mahavira.

It was here that Gautama Buddha spent several months meditating, and preaching at Gridhra-kuta, ('Hill of the Vultures'). He also delivered some of his famous sermons and initiated king Bimbisara of Magadha and countless others to Buddhism. On one of the hills is the Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa. Lord Mahavira spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda, spending chaturmas (i.e. 4 months of the rainy season) at a single place in Rajgir (Rajgruhi) and the rest in the places in the vicinity. It was the capital of his favourite shishya (follower) king Shrenik. Thus Rajgir is a very important religious place for Jains also. Rajgir is also famous for its association with Haryanka dynasty Kings Bimbisara and Ajatashatru. Ajatashatru kept his father Bimbsara in captivity here. The sources do not agree which of the Buddha's royal contemporaries, Bimbisara and Ajatashatru, was responsible for its construction. Ajatashatru is also credited with moving the capital to Pataliputra (modern Patna).

Geography and Climate

The city was in a valley surrounded by seven hills: Vaibhara, Ratna, Saila, Sona, Udaya, Chhatha, and Vipula. Rajgir has also developed as a health and winter resort due to its warm water ponds. These baths are said to contain some medicinal properties that help in the cure of many skin diseases. The Saptparni cave is also the source of the Rajgir Hot Water Springs that have curative properties and are sacred to the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Another attraction of the region is the ropeway that leads uphill to the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), Makhdoom Kund and monasteries built by Japanese devotees of the Buddha on top of the Ratnagiri Hills. Temperature: maximum 40 °C, minimum 20 °C. Winter: maximum 28 °C, minimum 6 °C Rainfall: 1,860 mm (mid-June to mid-September) Dry/warm season: October to March

Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides travel facility from state capital Patna to visit Bodh circuit (Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Kesaria, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Sarnath), Jain Circuit (Rajgir, Pawapuri) and Sikh Circuit in Bihar. Also, Corporation owns hotels and circuit house at respective tourist places. These hotels are available for tourist at very reasonable price. Air: The nearest is Gaya International Airport, Gaya which is 78 km which is connected to International Destinations like Bangkok, Columbo, etc. Another airport is at Patna 101 km. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi and Lucknow. Rail: Rajgir railway station connects the city to other parts of country yet the nearest convenient railhead is at Gaya 78 km. The Bakhtiyarpur-Tilaiya line provides improved rail connectivity to many places. Road: Rajgir is connected by road to Patna - 110 km, Nalanda - 12 km, Gaya - 78 km, Pawapuri - 38 km, Bihar Sharif - 25 km, etc.For any kind of queries related to road transport service you can visit www.nirvanacab.com. We are dealing with quality cab,taxi,car hire and radio taxi services in Bihar and Patna.

Bus: Regular buses are available from all the above said points to Rajgir.

Local Transport: Taxis and Buses and Tongas are available.

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