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Lord Buddha Statue, at Bodh Gaya, Gaya District in Bihar.

By Prakhar Patidar

Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are three of the main religions followed in India. These three along with Sikhism are classified as Eastern religions and have similar roots. Hinduism, the oldest of the four, is believed to be the main river through which several streams of belief systems have emerged. Gaya district in Bihar is special as it holds a special place in the discourses of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.



Gaya in Bihar is special to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism Building Bihar Buddha Temple Bodh Gaya India . Max Pixel www.maxpixel.net


Most famous for being the site where Siddharth gained enlightenment and became Buddha, Gaya is also mentioned in both the epics of Hinduism. It was the site of Dashrath's; the great king of Ayodhya, pind daan. It is one of the four holy sites of Buddhism and because of these factors, it is also listed as one of UNESCO'S heritage SITES.

Historically, Gaya has been a part of a series of great ancient empires. The earliest records of it are found in Ramayana and then of the enlightenment of Buddha (6 BCE) recorded by Buddhist historians. From 6th to 12th century till it was annexed into the Mughal empire, Gaya flourished as a post of many dynasties that rose and fell in that time. These were: Nanda Dynasty, Mauryan Empire, Gupta Empire, and the Pala empire.


Ashoka and Buddhism Mauryan period that is most strongly associated with the city because of Ashoka's strong inclination towards Buddhism| Flickr


It is the Mauryan period that is most strongly associated with the city because of Ashoka's strong inclination towards Buddhism. He was the one who laid the foundation of Mahabodhi Temple, the main heritage site in the city. This dates back to the 3rd century BCE. The temple further developed and over centuries has attained the status of a prime pilgrimage site in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Apart from this, Mahabodhi Temple is also an important specimen of the architecture of the time. This adds on to the criterion considered by UNESCO in designating it an important site of world heritage. The official website lists that not only it is one of the few standing examples of the brick structures used in the time, a living legacy of the architectural genius of the Indians of the time but also provides a window into a handful of great figures from Indian mythology and history.

The region is currently in the eastern state of Bihar and has a population of more than 43 lakh.

Keyword: Gaya, Buddha, Buddhism, Mahabodhi temple, bodh gaya, Heritage cities, UNESCO, Bihar, Buddha, Ashoka, History


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