Bodhgaya, in the state of Bihar in Northern India, is the most important holy site in Buddhism and the second on the pilgrimage trail, reaching from Lumbini in Nepal, where Buddha was born, to Kushinagar, India, where Buddha died and rose to heaven. Buddhists from all over the world flock to Bodhgaya to see where Buddha became enlightened. This is why in Bodhgaya you can see temples from Buddhist countries all over the world.
Some sights definitely worth seeing are the Mahabodhi temple with the holy Bodhi tree. This tree is grown from a sapling from what is believed to be the original bodhi tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. It is believed that the great emperor Ashoka built the temple 280 years after Buddha's enlightenment. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the temple was abandoned and buried under layers of soil. It was only in the 19th century that the temple was restored by British colonialists.
Other places of interest include the Chinese temple monastery, the Japanese monastery, the Tibetan monastery, the Thai monastery, the monastery of Bhutan and the Ratnagar Animesh Lochan Chaitya.
Bodhgaya is a short ride by tuk-tuk from Gaya, which lies on the Grand Chord Railway connecting Kolkata with Delhi. There are regular bus services to Gaya from Kolkata and Patna. Gaya also has a small international airport with connections to Jeddah, Bangkok and Singapore.
The best time to visit Bodhgaya and the North of India in general is winter, the time when the monsoon season has ended and temperatures are pleasant and cool. This is high season for Bodhgaya and there are many pilgrims visiting during that period. That also means that prices for accommodations go up. Summertime is to be avoided due to the soaring heat.
Bodhgaya has a few hostel options located in the center of town near the religious buildings. Some hotels also might offer hostel dorms. Hostels in Bodhgaya often have very basic amenities.
Being located in one of the poorest states of India, Bodhgaya has ample opportunities for people who want to volunteer. Some options include local schools and religious institutions caring for the poor.
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