Bodh Gaya, one of the 4 most important holy sites of Buddhism is surrounded by numerous temples and monasteries set up by Buddhist countries of South, East and South East Asia. Within a perimeter of about 5kms these temples are located hither and thither in the neighborhood of Mahabodhi temple and have managed to maintain the serene atmosphere as in the main temple. Almost all of them are open to tourists but in some monasteries outsiders are not allowed. Along with serenity, the interiors of the temples remain cool, a welcome change for people like me who do a walking tour during summer. The temple visits do not get boring as each of them are unique, highlighting the architecture of the country it represents. The only thing that put-off the good vibes are the pestering beggars squatting in front of each and every temple – for them these sites provide the opportunity to annoy the visitors to get some easy money. I can imagine what the foreigners will tell about India when they get back to their country. All the temples have one thing in common – they open at 6 AM and close at 5/6PM with a two hour break at 12 PM.
Indosan Nipponji, a Japanese temple built in 1973 was my personal favorite. The visitors will surely feel that they are in Kyoto, thanks to the unique architecture of the temple. There is one more Japanese temple – Daijokyo Buddhist Temple which lies adjacent to the Giant Buddha statue.
The Bhutanese temple is also built based on traditional architecture of that country and it looks grand. Travel from Kyoto to Himalayas within a few minutes!!!
Please excuse the political incorrectness of my blog as Tibet is officially part of China but that doesn’t stop you from visiting the marvelous Tibetan temples.
Shechen Monastery was inaugurated by the 14th (current) Dalai Lama and is situated near the Maha Bodhi temple.
Once you are inside the serene prayer hall of the Tergar Monastery after entering the details in the visitors book the gentle chirping of birds will help you to slip into a meditative state.
The Tibetan temple near Vietnam temple has got a large wooden prayer wheel and the book stall has got a decent collection of books based on Buddhism and Dalai Lama.
If you have not seen a Buddha idol made of cane, head to the first floor of Myanmar temple
Two things make Bangladesh Monastery unique. 1. Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country and 2. You get to see young monks playing cricket here.
Mongolian Temple was closed at the time of my visit and I wonder whether it will be open only during winter season.
Chinese temple lies adjacent to Shechen Monastery and it constantly reminded me of communism rather than Buddhism. The wall behind the statues of 3 Golden Buddhas is covered with small tiles that has pictures of Buddha. The marble statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva in front of the temple looks impressive.
And last but not the least (now..please don’t shoot me for using the time-worn cliché) Thai temples reflect, though to a lesser extent, the grandeur of the temples back in parent country. There are 2 Thai temples in Bodh Gaya.
Wat Thai Bodhgaya is strikingly similar to the temples of Bangkok and is richly gilt and highly ornamental.
Metta Buddharam Temple is splendidly whitetail and silvery. There is a life size statue of Emperor Ashoka wearing robes in this temple but the statue looks more similar to a Greek god rather than that of the person who propagated Buddhism in Indian subcontinent.
Let me know which among the list is/are your favorite(s) by posting it as a comment below 🙂