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This is one of the best Travel options to consider if you are planning to visit India in the near future.
Our Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narender Modi ji has requested the Indian Diaspora, on his ongoing visit to a few European countries, to encourage at least 5 foreign nationals to visit India.
I encourage you to talk about and spread awareness regarding our very rich Buddhist Heritage in Bihar ( a state in India) and encourage them to consider a trip to the jewels Bodhgaya, Nalanda & the mysterious forest of Rajgir.
To my Indian fellow citizens, you must explore these very rich cultural and historical sites. Make sure to include your school and college going children to accompany you on this very exciting and informative trip. Whatever, they have been reading in the history text books will be clear and admired once they witness these places.
Here, along with discussing the various details about transport, hotels and shopping, I will recount my very rewarding experience about these places.
TRAVEL ITINERARY: 2 DAYS
DAY 1● BODHGAYA ( DAY TIME VISIT)
● BODHGAYA ( FOR EVENING CHANTING
DAY 2 ● NALANDA AND RAJGIR
● LEAVE HOTEL AFTER EARLY BREAK
FAST AROUND 7 AM. FOR NALANDA
● REACH AROUND 9 AM AND VISIT THE
NALANDA UNIVERSITY RUINS.
● WALK ACROSS TO THE NALANDA
ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM AND ENJOY
● NEXT, VISIT THE XUANZANG MEMORIAL
THE MEMORIAL IS A FEW KILOMETERS
AWAY FROM THE NALANDA RUINS.
● LUNCH AT NALANDA MARKET
● PROCEED TOWARDS RAJGIR
● TAKE THE CABLE CAR TO THE STUPA ON TOP OF THE RAJGIR MOUNTAIN.
● SPEND A COUPLE OF HOURS ON THE
● PROCEED TOWARDS BODHGAYA AND
REACH AROUND DINNER TIME.
ABOUT BODHGAYA , NALANDA & RAJGIR
Though, there are tomes written about these sites, I will give you specific details to simplify the places. This will make it easier to grasp and you can look forward to exploring them at your own pace.
1● THE BODHGAYA TEMPLE COMPLEX
This is the Bodhgaya complex comprising of the main Temple and various other structures.
Photography is not permitted inside the main complex.( Special permission required)
The famous Bodhi Tree is located in the main Temple complex ( when I saw it, the Tree was in an enclosure and you cannot touch it. This is to protect it from the lakhs of enthusiastic Pilgrims and tourists).
You have to undergo strict mandatory search by security personnel at the entrance as a few years ago this places was attacked . Since then security has been beefed up.
● Bodhgaya is the spiritual and sacred Pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the World.
This is the main Temple. The famous Bodhi Tree is in the main Temple complex.
● Gautam Buddha attained Enlightment under this sacred Bodhi Tree.
This Tree is reveared and preserved.
● I had visited the temple in the daytime, then someone suggested to come for the chanting in the evening.
● The experience of the place was very surreal during the chanting.
● People of all nationalities were taking part in the evening prayers (chanting)
● There were hundreds of Sri Lanka Pilgrims who had arrived at Gaya Airport by charter flights. Seeing them completely immersed in prayer was a very rewarding experience.
● On asking, a few told me that this was a sacred Pilgrimage which everyone aspires for in their lifetime.
● A large group of Pilgrims from Mayanmar told me the same thing. They had also arrived by charter flight.
● The Thai Pilgrims were busy chanting with lamps and intense sticks.
● The complex is large and requires 1 full hour to see.
● It will take 2 hours if you decide to stay for the chanting.
● Wear comfortable clothes and footwear as you have to walk a lot.
● You will be required to take off your footwear in the main Temple area.
● Always inquire about the timing of Temple entry and Prayers before visiting to avoid inconvenience.
2● THE BUDDHA STATUE
This picture was taken by me in the evening.
● This Buddha Statue is located next to the Main Bodhgaya Temple Complex. It is adjoining the Complex and has a separate entrance.
● The sheer size of the Statue is awe-inspiring.
● This Statue has been funded by Japan.
● Do not miss the Statue as it has a timing.
3● VARIOUS MONASTERIES NEXT TO THE MAIN BODHGAYA COMPLEX
● As a large number of people come to Bodhgaya from all over the World various countries have set up monasteries for the comfortable stay of their citizens. Here, people come for various spiritual courses and stay for a few months.
These Monasteries are located on the road leading to the Bodhgaya Temple Complex. They are adjacent to each other in a row.
I had visited the Thai monastery in Bodhgaya and interacted with the monks.
You can sample their very tasty food in the monastery dining room.
The Thai Monastery Prayer Room in Bodhgaya. This picture was clicked by me after lighting a candle.
The statue of The Buddha, in Thai Style, The Thai Monastery, Bodhgaya.
This picture was taken by me before offering prayers and lighting a candle.
Bodhgaya is well connected by air, rail and road.
Nearest airport and railway station is located in Gaya, a 20 minutes drive from Bodhgaya.
Taxis and buses are easily available.
The roads are good but the city is crowded and boisterous like any Indian Pilgrim Town.
This adds to the overall experience of travel. People are polite and helpful.
There are plenty of shops located outside the main Bodhgaya Temple Complex selling all sorts of memorabilia and souvenirs.
● Bodhgaya offers a special souvenir: Sacred Bodhi Tree leaf, a very popular remembrance. It is a dried leaf, well packaged souvenir that you can take for your friends and family.
As a rule, you must always bargain and this applies all over the World.
There are plenty of hotels in Gaya and Bodhgaya catering to all budgets.
Gaya has guest houses, hotels from 3 star to even a 5 star hotel.
Accommodation is reasonably priced but make sure to book in advance and make reservations or you might face some inconvenience as Bodhgaya attracts tourists from all over the World.
Also, try to make reservations in advance during the Kalchakra Pooja as the hotels might be already booked, even the air fare triples.
This picture was clicked by me while visiting the UNESCO preserved Heritage site of The Ancient University Of Nalanda.
This picture of Nalanda University ruins was clicked by me. You are not permitted to climb the stairs .
I was very impressed by the beautiful and well kept gardens. The pathways lead to all the important structures. This is one of numerous pictures taken by me.