Primary Source

Mahabodhi Temple

Image of the Mahabodhi Temple: a stepped pyramid with round dome-shaped structure (stupa) on top


This photograph shows the Mahabodhi Temple complex. The temple is a part of Bodh Gaya a religious place in the Gaya District in Bihar that is one of the four and most important pilgrimages associated with the life of Gautama Buddha. It is said to have been the place where Buddha obtained enlightenment. It is thought to have been first built around the 3rd century B.C., 250 years after Buddha obtained enlightenment, by Emperor Asoka as a monument. However, the structure of the temple that is still standing today is said to have been completed in the 5th or 6th century B.C. and today is an amalgamation of the many architectural styles including that of the Gupta period in which it was built and later periods. The temple is also a popular destination for religious travelers and tourists. How might different travelers influence or shape the places they visit? For example, Bodh Gaya brings in considerable foot traffic to the area. Although this positively affects the tourism industry it is also important to consider the possible damages and the cost in resources to maintain the site. Alternatively, how might visiting a place like the Mahabodhi Temple influence travelers?  There is such a wide variety of travelers that visit the temple and what they take from their visit is unique to the traveler and often influenced by their purposes for traveling. They travelers include tourists, different types of scholars and many different religious travelers. The temple is a representation of the many Buddhist cultures that have come to pay homage there, and has inscriptions describing pilgrimages from places as far and wide as China, Sri Lanka, and Burma between the 7th and 10th century A.D. Numerous East Asians have made the pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya for religious enlightenment over the centuries. Someone practicing a branch of Buddhism might travel to the temple for enlightenment as many have done before find commonality with those traveling centuries ago for the same reasons, but those same inscriptions can be a valuable source of information a scholar. 

This source is a part of the Analyzing Travel Records methods module.


Photo by query_squidier 04/09/2007

Via UNESCO photo gallery

How to Cite This Source

"Mahabodhi Temple," in World History Commons, [accessed June 12, 2024]