The two major sacred sites in Bodhgaya are the Mahabodhi Temple and the Bodhi Tree, around which many other temples and monasteries of various Buddhist traditions (Japanese, Tibetan, Bhutanese and others) have been built.
Every year, millions of Buddhist pilgrims, mainly from Asian countries, flock to Bodhgaya to be inspired, dissipate negative karma and earn merit by visiting the holy site where the Buddha became the Buddha ("Enlightened One").
After 49 days of concentrated meditation and several battles with Mara (illusion), Siddharta became the Buddha, the "Enlightened One." The Buddha remained seated in meditation for a week after his enlightenment, then practiced walking meditation nearby for another week.
The Mahabodhi (Great Enlightenment) Temple is a Buddhist stupa located in Bodhgaya, India. It is the most sacred site in Buddhism and visited regularly by both Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims (many Hindus honor the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu).
The date of Gautama Buddha's enlightenment is not known for certain — even the dates of his birth and death are difficult to pin down. However, Buddhists and historians alike recognize the Buddha as a historical figure who lived in the 6th or 5th century BC and it is likely that Bodh Gaya is indeed the site of his enlightenment.
Since 1953, Bodh Gaya has been developed as an international place of pilgrimage. Buddhists from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Tibet, Bhutan and Japan have established monasteries and temples within easy walking distance of the Mahabodhi compound. The site of the enlightenment now attracts Buddhists and tourists from all over the world.
At any time during the cooler months between December and March, a visitor to Bodh Gaya can observe a continual stream of Indian and international pilgrims walking the roads or arriving in buses, circumambulating the temple, performing prostrations and offering prayers in a multitude of languages. For those who aspire to awaken their full potential, Bodh Gaya today is truly a field vibrant with the potentiality of enlightenment. Enriched by devotion of Buddhists of all traditions, this holy site is emerging as a powerful inspiration to the modern world, awakening people of all nations to the real possibility of enlightenment.