The Mahabodhi temple is located in Bodhgaya city in the state of Bihar, India. It is considered to be the holiest and oldest shrine devoted to Buddhism and a place where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. This temple is also the oldest and the first temple to be constructed using bricks.
The first temple was constructed by Ashoka around 260 B.C. near the Bodhi tree. An inscription datable to 1st – 2nd century A.D. mentions that the temple of Asoka was replaced by a new one. It provides exceptional records for the events associated with Buddha’s life and for subsequent worship. In addition a diamond throne was built marking the accurate location of Buddha’s enlightenment. In the 12th century Bodhgaya came under the control of Muslim authorities and during their reign temple was damaged and neglected. Restored in 1880 by the British government under the supervision of Sir Alexander Cunningham the temple was handed over to the Buddhists in 1949.
The whole temple is built with bricks and is the oldest among the brick structures in India. The Mahabodhi temple tower stands at a height of about 55 meters, which is bounded by four more towers built in the same manner. The Mahabodhi temple is bound by railings made of stone two meters tall. In addition, the ancient railings are made of sandstone around 150 B.C. There are a few structures of Indian gods inside the temple namely “Surya”, the god of sun and “Lakshmi”, the goddess of wealth.
The temple contains several towers which are built by many people from different parts of the world. A large amount of Buddha statues are clad in the Hindu style. In addition, there is the Niranjana River close to the temple, which has a great scenic beauty.
Currently, the Mahabodhi temple is maintained by the government of Bihar state which takes care of its protection and management.
UNESCO has listed the Mahabodhi Temple as a world heritage site in 2002.