Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya
Emperor Asoka built the first temple in the 3rd century Before Christ, which is considered one of the earliest Buddhist temples. The Temple is surviving example of early brick structures in India from the late Gupta period. It has been influencing the development of architecture over the centuries with its sculpted stone balustrades that are an outstanding early example of sculptural reliefs in stone. Located in the heart of Bodh Gaya, the site consists of the main temple and six sacred places in an enclosed area.
The most important of the sacred places is the giant Bodhi Tree to the west of the main temple. This tree is supposed to be a direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree under which the Buddha had his enlightenment. Next to the Bodhi Tree is a Buddha statue which was originally installed by Asoka for marking the spot where the Buddha meditated. Prayer hall is to be found to the north of the central path, where the Buddha is believed to have spent the Second Week. The Buddha spent the Third Week on a place that lies near the north wall of the main temple. The spots places he spent the fourth, fifth six and seventh weeks are Ratnaghar Chaitya, Ajapala Nigrodh, Lotus Pond, and the Rajyatana Tree respectively.
Built in classical style of Indian architecture, the main temple is decorated with honeysuckle and geese design. Path that leads to the main temple has quite a few statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas. The site has railway station, which is called Gaya, where all major trains have stoppage. Indian Railways recently introduced Buddha Parikrama, a train that caters to Buddhist spiritual tour by linking all important Buddhism devotee sites.