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The Mahabodhi temple complex is one of India’s most prominent religious and spiritual centers as well as a prime tourist attraction for foreign visitors. Located in Bihar’s Bodhgaya, the Mahabodhi temple attracts visitors all year round mainly due to its association with Gautam Buddha. It is extremely popular with Hindus as well as Buddhists, not to mention history buffs who are intrigued by its ancient artifacts. Also Read - The Culturally Rich And Diverse Bodhgaya is a Backpacker's Paradise
Here are five interesting facts about the Mahabodhi temple complex: Also Read - Tourism nudge to promote sites associated with Gautam Buddha
1. It is believed to be the place where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. It was here that sitting under a peepul tree that young prince Siddhartha (who later became Gautam Buddha) attained all the answers he sought after three days and three nights of meditation.
2. Built by emperor Ashoka in 260 BC, the Mahabodhi temple complex is one of the first Buddhist temples to be built entirely of brick. Being one of eastern India’s oldest brick structures, its architecture has been widely appreciated.
3. The temple complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in June 2002. Since then, all of its religious artifacts are legally protected.
4. The central tower of the Mahabodhi temple is around 55 m tall. It has been renovated several times through the 19th century and is surrounded by four smaller towers.
5. Apart from the grand statue, the temple complex consists of several places of interest to Buddha devotees like the Bodhi tree (a descendant of the tree under which Buddha actually attained enlightenment), the lotus pond and several ancient stupas. These places are associated with the seven weeks Buddha is said to have spent here.