The taxi dropped us at a square, I could see some temples around, not too many but several. We started walking to the left. There was- Jai Shree Mahabodhi Temple built by some trust. We didn’t enter the temple and walked past it straight.
“It is 6:30 A.M” Gio announced.
“We have plenty of time” I responded.
This was the reason we walked straight on the road without peeking in the temples. We had a day, almost. After some time, it seemed like the place where all the temples were clustered was over and we were out of it. We saw a under-construction site, it was a Meditation Centre. It has the same architecture, that of the Chinese and Thai temples I saw in the pictures of Bodh Gaya on the internet. Cool! Then, there was the Kalchakra Stadium, the name sounds cool but it is an ordinary ground. We continued walking and we could see a white temple tower amidst the trees. We walked our way to the place to find that there was a monastery. The Gossain Ghamandi Monastery. Gossain Ghamandi is name of a monk. The bulding looked old, white washed years ago and has the streak marks of rainwater from windows to the ground. Cows were tied to their hitches in the front yard and ducks beside them. All this felt like a village, there were people sitting in the front yard and also workers going for their daily chores. The temple tower we saw was there, adjacent to the monastery. I was not sure if it was allowed to go there. Connor and Gio went up to a man sitting there and after some exchanges, they asked us to come. We put off our slippers and entered the monastery. It was indeed old, the gates and rooms inside it spoke this. There must had been a time when monks lived here, I wonder if there are still monks left. In the centre, there was a worship place. We prayed there and came out. We went to the temple, the one we saw before. It was a Shiva temple. There were around half a dozen temples, each one having a Shiva Linga, some were bigger than the others.
We spent an hour and came back to the place where the taxi had dropped us. We headed into the Tibetan monastery and temple first. It was like a house, there were cars parked. We walked deeper and took the stairs to the first floor. There it was, the temple. A large golden Buddha sat in front of us and the walls had paintings of him and other buddhist religious things. It was very colorful and vibrant to see. Below it, on the ground floor, there was a room with a enormous Buddhist Prayer Wheel. Its spindle joined the floor to the ceiling. We went in and spun it, there was a cleaner who told us that one has to spin it three times. We did it. It felt good.
Then, we made our way to the main site- The Mahabodhi Temple. It marks the location where Siddhartha attained Enlightenment. After keeping our mobile phones at the door security, we entered the site. It was a large area, with greenery around and the colossal temple stood at the centre. No photographs as mobiles were not allowed. Cameras are allowed for a fee but I don’t own one. 😦
We went in the temple, we had to stand in a long queue before we could make it in. There were devotees from Sri Lanka, it looked like they were on a tour, more than fifty of them, all women dressed in white, young and old. We prayed in there and walked out. Then, we went to the right where the old Bodhi Tree stands. I don’t know how old the tree is but there were pillars to support its heavy branches. Undoubtedly, it was more than a hundred years old. Maybe more. Beside it, there was the Jewel Walk. It was a platform with decorated with lotus flowers. Siddhartha spent the week after Enlightenment at this place and lotus flowers sprung up where he put his foot. That’s it. We roamed in the premises for more than an hour. We watched the gardens, wondered how the chameleon changes color and when to book the return ticket.
We stood by the Mucalinda Lake and laughed. There was Buddha statue, he sat under a huge snake’s hood. The snake looked pretty villainous and I mentioned this more than two times while we were there. Later, we came out of the Temple and explored the market just out of it. Connor bought a miniature prayer wheel powered by solar energy (cool) and Kevin bought a key chain and a mini statue. Gio bought a Buddha’s portrait.
Me? I don’t buy anything for a memory, I didn’t when I visited Chandrapur, Jodhpur, Vadodara, Rajkot and Ahmedabad. I didn’t this time, too. Only memories in form of stories and my love, photography.
TO BE CONTINUED…