The very word conjures up images of the sacred site
where Buddha attained enlightenment, under the shade of a magnificent
Bodhi tree. After more than 2,500 years, it remains the most supreme
and inspirational place of Buddhist worship in the world.
historic site, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in
June this year, will evoke much religious fervour this December when
Bodhgaya is dedicated to all humankind. Massive celebrations have been
planned and the city of Gaya will be then renamed as Gautam Nagar, the
cradle of Buddhism.
tussle between the Bihar administration and the Bodhgaya
management is delaying the dedication ceremony, according to an
official associated with the development planning. And the failure to
reach a consensus is also making the ambitious development plans rot,
while the people await renewed interest in their city's development.
Bihar administration continues to insist on clearing the
structures within the buffer zone, as required by UNECO, the grand
dedication ceremony has been postponed to December with no date being
plans are afoot to unearth the Buddhist heritage that
remains buried and to restore the past glory. Gautam Nagar will be
developed under a new development model. " The dedication ceremony will
be an extremely elaborate and evocative one that would draw all
attention to Bodhgaya again, said Director, Indian Tourism Development
Corporation, Ashwani Lohani.
who was the driving force behind the initial plan to win
UNESCO heritage status for the site, told The Sunday Leader that
Bodhgaya's dedication will inspire the entire Buddhist world "with
participation from all Buddhist countries and state patronage from
is a magnificent temple complex found in the state of
Bihar in Eastern India, within the administrative district of Gaya.
Administered by the Indian Mahabodhi Society, Bodhgaya is the one
destination that draws the highest number of tourists from Buddhist
a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its outstanding
universal value, Bodhgaya is the 23rd such site in India and the very
first in the state of Bihar. At present, there are 730 such sites the
the tussle continues, Indian authorities have made ambitious
plans for Bodhgaya. As the dedication ceremony draws near, the Bihar
administration is busy attempting to clear the unauthorised structures
within the area that is to be declared as the buffer zone.
plans primarily include a special project to unearth a buried
city in the area once known as Uruvela, a master plan to develop 12
acres and promote massive religious tourism, all of which are a part of
one ambitious plan.
in March 2000, the UNESCO World Heritage Site status
announcement made in Budapest, in June, led to massive celebrations in
all parts of India, particularly in the state of Bihar as people
exchanged sweetmeats, lit crackers and played traditional music in a
spirit of celebration. They will soon have more cause for celebration,
when Bodhgaya is ceremonially dedicated to all humanity.
Bihar government prepares to launch a massive development
programme in the city of Gaya, the Mahabodhi management entrusted with
the administrative responsibilities and the protection of the unique
site since1953 has called for the support of Buddhists world over to
restore Bodhgaya to its past glory.
proposed city of Gautam Nagar needs the urgent developing of a
buffer zone around the Mahabodhi temple complex, removal of all shops,
business establishments, government and residential buildings within
the demarcated area forthwith to meet UNESCO requirements.
Bihar Urban Development Ministry and the Maghad Division are
to jointly introduce a three-phased development programme in Gaya,
which will cover a buffer zone of 12 acres , create a meditation park,
Buddhist museum and information centers, at a cost of US $ 1,765,500.
master plan will also include the creation of a backdrop, with
appropriately landscaped lawns, flower beds, a deer park and meditation
areas for monks and laymen.
the Maghad Archaeological Development Project has also
planned extensive excavations and conservation to reveal the buried
ancient city of the Mahabodhi Complex with its many sanctuaries built
by various kings of different countries, during the course of many
is an inspiring project. I think an orphan finally able to
trace his mother would feel this excited - looking for the past link"
an official involved in the project said.
all the development work concerning the site, the Indian
authorities are concerned about promoting religious tourism to
Bodhgaya. Come December, there will be direct flights from Delhi to
would augur well for Bodhgaya and the Buddhist people the world
over to ensure that immediate action is taken to settle the minor
political dispute and make way for the necessary development to take
place. The place where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment should
inspire people to seek truth and reflect upon life, than be grounds to
a dispute that prevents Bodhgaya from achieving its full potential.
philosophical and cultural context, the Mahabodhi Temple
Complex is of great relevance to the most important events in the life
of Gautama Buddha, and hence forms much of the tangible heritage.
temple itself, a grand 50 metre high structure is regarded as
a significant component of the site, which is also one of the most
ancient temple structures existing in the Indian sub continent, dating
back to 6th Century BC. It is also believed to be one of the very few
representations of the architectural genius of the Indian people in
constructing a fully developed brick temple.
complex itself forms another significant part of the site,
which is living testimony to India's developed architecture and
artistic finesse. It contains several well-preserved temple structures
and the famous grand structure.
sculptured stone railings are held to be 'an outstanding
example of the art and architecture of the period of emperor Ashoka
(3rd Century BC).
the main temple complex, there are six other sacred spots
including the sacred Bodhi tree under which Buddha attained
enlightenment and the lotus pond where Buddha meditatedafterwards.
to the grand architectural style manifested in the
complex, the proposal forwarded by the Indian Tourism Development
Corporation (ITDC) to UNESCO canvassing World Heritage Site status
said: "As such, it bears an exceptional testimony to a cultural
tradition and to the prevalent forms of architecture in the late Gupta
Period, also known as the Golden Age of Indian Culture."
Buddha is believed to have said to his closest disciple,
There are four places Ananda, which the believing man should
visit with feelings of reverence. The place Ananda, at which the
believing man can say,
the Tathagata was born (Lumbini)
the Tathagata attained the supreme and perfect insight
was the kingdom of righteousness set on foot by the Tathagata
is the Tathagata passed finally away in that utter passing
away which leaves nothing whatsoever remain behind (Kusinagar)"
Parnibbana Sutta translated by T.W. Rhys Davis)
20 10 2002 - Sunday Observer