Friday, 18 November 2011

Om Mani Padme Hum

This week I spent some time in Bodhgaya (amongst other places), the most important of four main pilgrimage sites for Buddhists around the world. It was here that Gautama Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment, under a Bodhi tree, and the surrounding landscape is dotted with foreign Buddhist monasteries, each exhibiting their own local architectural style. The most impressive of these was the Thai Monastery and temple, topped with a glitteringly adorned gold leaf roof and set in tranquil and beautifully maintained gardens, a haven away from the chaos outside the temple gates.

The actual tree under which Buddha's 6 year path to enlightenment culminated is no longer here (the original is actually now in Sri Lanka and a cutting has been planted here), but a beautiful temple has been built to mark this holy place and hundreds of pilgrims flock here annually to meditate and pray in the extensive gardens. Things were particularly chaotic at this time as everyone was preparing for the Dalai Lama's visit in December.

The Mahabodhi Temple is a beautiful place to sit and contemplate life, a peaceful oasis in an otherwise dusty and noisy town. I spent a couple of days here wandering around the various different monasteries (all very different in look and feel) and taking in the unique vibe and spirituality of the town.

Thai Monastery and Temple

Mahabodhi Temple

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