UNESCO deem the site a work of architectural genius. Its grand Mahabodhi Temple, dated to the 5th or 6th centuries AD, towers over the site at 50 metre high. Nearby lies the oldest temple in the complex. It dates back to the 3rd century BC, and is where Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. Indeed it is this religious association that furthered the importance of the Complex: it is one of the four holy sites related to the life of Buddha.
However, until now the site had been falling into disrepair. Following its UNESCO designation, the Archaeological Survey of India have been undertaking massive new restoration and conservation work. Ongoing restoration work includes rescuing areas of the site that are under threat from erosion.
The Boghgaya Temple Management Committee, who are working alongside the archaeologists, also seek to preserve the splendour and the integrity of the site. The Committee would like the entire area to be landscaped in order for it to become a tranquil destination for pilgrims, replete with lotus pond and meditation park. Intending the temple complex also to become an attractive tourist destination, the Committee are hoping to build an auditorium for plays and concerts, a boating lake and musical fountains. Hotels, good transport links, and the installation of tourist guides are also under discussion.
Those interested in knowing more about the new developments at the temple complex can log on to www.mahabodhi.com
This article is an extract from the full article published in World Archaeology Issue 1. Click here to subscribe