Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya: where the Buddha was Enlightened

The Bodh Gaya Project

Contributions to Bodh Gaya's History

From time to time new documents, images, travel accounts and other material relating to Bodh Gaya will be posted here

(1) Beglar’s Pillar During the late 19th and early 20th century an unusual monument was to be seen in the grounds of the Government Rest House at Bodh Gaya. This monument consisted of the drums of about 10 Pala period stupas arranged to form a pillar and with a stupa’s pinnacle on its top. There were 1650 tiny images of the Buddha on the pillar. According to local lore in the early 1900’s this monument had been erected by Joseph Davidavich Beglar while he was renovating the Mahabodhi temple in 1880-2. No trace of this pillar now exists and I have been unable to find out what happened to it. I know of only one mention of it, in Devapiya Valisinha’s Buddhist Shrines in India published in the 1948 and have been able to find only one photograph of it.


(2) This beautiful statue of Marachi, the Tantric Goddess of Dawn was found in 1890 and is now on display at the Museum of Indian Art in Berlin.


(3) U Nu, the first prime minister of independent Burma was overthrown in a coup in 1962, went into exile in India and spent most of the rest of his life there. U Nu was a devote Buddhist and on the 16 November 1974, in keeping with Burmese custom, he took temporary ordination under the Bodhi Tree at Bodh Gaya.


(4) These two exceptional statues of Avalokitesvara and Maitriya were removed from Bodh Gaya in the 19th century and are now on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, USA. The statues are part of a set and date from the 11th century.


(5) This is a rare colored photo of Bodh Gaya taken in 1922. It shows the entrance of the Mahabodhi Temple. In front of the temple is an iron trellis with a beautifully flowering vine growing in it. This trellis was removed when the temple precincts were tidied up in preparation for the Buddha Jayanti in 1956.


(6) Representations of the Mahabodhi Temple are sometimes depicted on tear-shaped clay sealings that have been found at Bodh Gaya and in several Buddhist countries. Another type of sealing with similar representations have so far not attracted the attention of scholars. The one shown here was found at Nalanda and is now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The sealing shows the pinnacle of the Temple, the amalaka on its top, and the Mahabodhi Image in the bhumiphassa mudra inside it. The cealing dates from the 11th century. An almost identical sealing is on display at the National Museum in Bangkok.


(7) Several copies of the Mahabodhi Temple were built in ancient times. There are numerous modern copies as well. This rather bazaar copy was built in Kotahena, a suburb of Colombo, in 1928. The lower part of the temple is a good copy of the original but the pinnacle is completely different. This Kotahena Pagoda, as it is called, attracted a lot of attention when it was first built. It is in a very bad condition today.


(8) A little to the north east of the Mahabodhi Temple is a much smaller temple now mistakenly identified as the with the Animisa Caitiya. I present here three photos showing how this temple appeared before its renovation in 1880.


(9) One of the most colorful modern temple at Bodh Gaya is the Galupa temple right next to the Mahabodhi Society. This is what it looked like in 1955.


(10) In the 1780’s the English artist William Daniell visited Bodh Gaya during his tour of India. Later he made this picture of the Mahabodhi Temple from sketches he had made at Bodh Gaya. It is the earliest modern view of Bodh Gaya.

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