Monday, December 31, 2007

Dec 31: Bodhgaya, and Chain woes(part 1 of 2)

Got up lazily at 6. I was told that the places of interest in Bodhgaya
open at 8. Bodhgaya was just 13 km away, so no point getting up early.
Updating the website took some time, but I was out of the hotel by 8.
Reached Bodhgaya by 9:15. A cloth shop owner was kind enough to keep
my bags in his keeping while I visited the temple.

Bodhgaya is the most important place of piligrimage for any buddhist.
The chief attraction there is the Mahabodhi temple. An old bodhi tree
is in the main temple complex - but I've read that it is not the same
under which Buddha got enlightenment. Somehow the tree doesn't look
very very old to me: unfortunately cutting the tree and counting the
number of rings is not an option! So I better believe them. The
existing temple is obviously not ancient, having been renovated time
and again, the last being by the Indian Government. Around the
Vajrasana(built by Ashoka) and the Bodhi tree congregate groups of
buddhists from various countries. The tibetan community is by far the
largest and most visible. Then there are the japanese, korean, burmese
and the few westeners.

In Bodhgaya, other countries where buddhism is practised have built
their style of temples. I've had a look at the burmese and the thai,
but decide to skip the rest. When I visit these countries, I should
have something to see, right?

So time to move on. It takes me more than an hour to reach Dobhi, 20km
away. Dobhi is on the historic Grand Trunk Road, built first by Sher
Shah Suri. No evidence of history is visible, which is both good and
bad. Good because it's a 4 lane highway and reasonably flat. If not
for the headwind, one could ride much faster. My fat tyres and shocks
are obviously a waste here. Bad because Sher Shah had trees planted on
either side of the road so tiring cyclists could relax - and these are
nowhere to be seen. Some places there are attempts to plant new trees,
but that's about it.

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2 comments:

Prashanth said...

Wish you a very happy new year! May all your bike problems end in 2007 :-) Hope people will be more friendly and shower you with lot smiles in the remaining days of the trip.

Single speed or otherwise... you rock!!

Cheers
PK

SreeHarsha H S said...

Hey Shree,

About the Budhgaya tree, I believe what you mentioned is true, its not the same old one.
Sangamitra had taken a sapling out of the original tree and took it to Srilanka in olden days. And this grew to be a bigger one.
When the original tree in India was about to die, i guess the government borrowed a sappling from the Srilankan tree, to preserve the sanctity.

This was told by a Srilankan-native :).

-Harsha