Sunday 22nd January, 2012:
We took a short trip to Bodhgaya.
By far the biggest highlight was the Mahâ Bodhi Temple (the place where Siddhartha reached enlightenment) which includes an Ashokan pillar, the Mucalinda Lake (recalling where it is said a giant cobra sheltered the Buddha from the first rains some six weeks after becoming enlightened), and the Bodhi tree or “ficus religiosa” (a descendent of the original brought back from Sri Lanka). The temple was built around the 4th century CE. It was very busy, with many monks chanting, hundreds of people showing devotion by circling the grounds three times clockwise, and lots of hawkers outside. For me, being able to sit under the Bodhi tree and meditate undisturbed for almost 30 minutes was truly superb - among the best moments of the entire journey, in fact. Of course, the Buddha, after achieving enlightenment, spent one week standing nearby simply gazing at the tree out of gratitude, so I couldn’t match that.