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The history of Bodhgaya is about 2500 years old. In the sixth century B.C., prince Siddhartha Gautama attained supreme enlightenment at this holy place and became the Buddha. In commemoration of this event, emperor Asoka set-up the Vajrasana (Diamond Throne) of polished sandstone representing the seat of enlightenment in third century B.C. Thereafter, he built a stupa in veneration of the Buddha which remained there upto the second century A.D. The original structure of Mahabodhi Mahavihara temple was completed in seventh century A.D. during the reign of Gupta kings. The temple underwent several restorations, renovations and repairs in the subsequent period in which the Burmese greatly contributed. In 1883, a very thorough and scientific renovation of the temple was done under the supervision of the British Archaeologist Sir A. Cunningham and J.D.M. Beglar and the Indian archaeologist Dr.Rajendra Lal Mitra. In 1956, on the occasion of 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations, the Govt. of India did some repair works and enlarged the premises of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara. This is the most sacred place of Buddhist Pilgrimage in the world.
The gold painted statue of Buddha in the sanctum shrine of the Temple is made of Black stone built by the Pala kings of Bengal. The Buddha is seen seated in the Bhumisparsa Mudra or the Earth touching posture.
The Mahabodhi Mahavihara has now been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO on the 27th June 2002.
In the Temple complex, one can also visit the other seven places where the Buddha spent in meditation after the attainment of Enlightenment. Al these places are situated inside the temple complex.