Monks worshiping in the Mahabodhi Temple Complex // © 2013 erandamx
It was 10 years ago when I first heard the story of Buddha meditating underneath a Bodhi tree for 49 days in order to reach enlightenment. For me, the story provoked a sense of wonder about the sacred site located in Bodh Gaya, India, and last fall, I made my own pilgrimage to the Mahabodhi Temple.
On arrival in Bodh Gaya, the heat was stifling, so I opted to visit the Mahabodhi Temple Complex at night when soft lights produced an etherial glow on the intricately carved Mahabodhi tower. The crowd was a mix of tourists, pilgrims, nuns and monks, who were decked out in saffron and burgundy robes.
The feeling was electric as chanting choruses bounced off the site’s stone structures. While a crowd of zealous amateur photographers snapped away at the Great Buddha Statue in the center of the complex, I found a peaceful retreat where a very modest Bodhi tree (a descendent of the original) stood. Here, a well-heeled traveler can sit, take a deep breath and contemplate his or her place in the universe.