Like the internet in Bodh Gaya
University of Cologne
We were really looking forward to Bodhgaya. The small city in the state of Bihar with just under 50,000 inhabitants is a sacred place not only for Buddhists, but also for many Hindus. We now had to get used to getting to know the city a little better virtually. Thanks to a lot of visualizations and exciting presentations, this worked out very well - and once again aroused the desire to really visit the place in the near future, hopefully.
The name Bodhgaya literally means “place of enlightenment” - according to legend, this is where the tree stood under which Siddharta Gautama had his enlightenment and became Buddha (simply told). The ornate Mahabodhi Temple, built in the place of enlightenment, is one of the four holiest places for Buddhists. The temple was built in 260 BC. BC by the Buddhist ruler Ashoka, was destroyed several times by wars due to the changing Indian history and was rebuilt and expanded again and again. Since Buddhism disappeared from India and thus also from Bodhgaya in the 13th century, the Mahabodhi temple has also been increasingly perceived as a place of prayer by Hindus. Over time there were repeated disputes about the "right" to the temple between Buddhists and Hindus. However, since 1949 there has been the “Bodhgaya Temple Act”, which assigns responsibility for the temple to a committee that always consists of four Buddhists and four Hinduists. That is a good approach. With the help of YouTube videos we were able to get a small impression of the site and dream a bit of the atmosphere there.
The Mahabodhi Temple was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2002. One reason we talked about the importance and development of tourism in Bodh Gaya. In 2002, an international airport was created in Bodhgaya - the city and the marketing of the heritage should help to stimulate the economy in Bihar. Here you can discuss what the effects and consequences of the world cultural heritage status are, which actors are involved, or to what extent the spiritual atmosphere of the city can be maintained.
In addition to the important Mahabodhi temple, the city is home to many other Buddhist temples, which were built by Buddhists from different countries. This is reflected in the architecture of the numerous other temples. The Japanese Nippon Temple, for example, is shaped like a pagoda. There is good virtual access to the Thai Monastery; these can be admired from the outside and inside on the website of the state of Bihar (http://www.bihartourism.gov.in/districts/Gaya/thai.html). It was designed in the ornamental Thai style.
No one has chosen to continue an excursion online and is obviously far from the right experience, but it is still good and exciting to continue to learn so much. Especially since we don't have any other big plans in quarantine anyway. Hopefully we can still quench our longing for India soon.
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