Mahabodhi Temple

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Good Time To Visit:   The Whole Year
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Mahabodhi Pagoda, Mahabodhi temple, Maha Bodhi
First half of the 13th century
In the center of old walled Bagan
Late Bagan period, Two storey structure, Indian style
Thatbyinnyu, Gawdawpalin

Mahabodhi temple, Build after the Mahabodhi temple of Bodhgaya, India

      The Mahabodhi Pagoda within the city walls of old Bagan is a monument in a style that is unique to Bagan.       The pagoda was build to resemble the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya in North India, the place where the Buddha reached enlightenment some 25 centuries ago.
      The temple is a two storey structure about 43 meters high. The pagoda and its square base are stuccoed and contain depictions of several animals and Nat spirit figures.
      The base of the structure consists of a square block. On each of its four corners are smaller versions of the stupa. Both the base and tower contain numerous niches, in which 465 Buddha images in different postures are enshrined.

      On top of the base is a conical tower topped with a golden hti, an ornamental spire found most Burmese temples.
      Both the lower and upper storey of the Mahabodhi temple contain a large seated Buddha image. On the inner wall is an inscription that provides information about the donation of the land where the temple was build on. The Mahabodhi temple was damaged during the earthquake of 1975, but has been restored since then.

Other structures in the temple complex

      Another structure in the Mahabodhi temple complex is the gem house called Ratana Gara which contained a beautifully decorated alter piece which was badly damaged during the 1975 earthquake. The alter piece is now on display in the Bagan archeological museum. The grounds also contain a brick circular stupa set on a square base.

The seven weeks the Buddha spend after reaching enlightenment

      Seven places near the Mahabodhi temple represent the seven weeks the Buddha spent after reaching enlightenment.
      The first week the Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree where he had reached enlightenment.
      The second week the Buddha spend looking in appreciation at the Bodhi tree that had sheltered him during meditation.
      The third week the Buddha created a golden bridge in the air in order to demonstrate he had reached enlightenment and spend a week walking up and down the bridge.
      The fourth week the Buddha created a jewelled chamber and meditated inside it. This chamber is represented by the Ratana Gara gem house.
      The fifth week the Buddha spend meditating under a Banyan tree. Three beautiful girls, said to be the daughters of the demon Mara, danced in front of him in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the Buddha from meditating.
      The sixth week the Buddha meditated under a Mucalinda tree. When it started to rain a large snake appeared that wrapped its body around the Buddha and put its hood over the Buddha's head to keep Him warm and dry.
      After meditating under a Rajayatana tree during the seventh week, two merchants appeared who offered the Buddha rice cakes and honey. The Buddha told the merchants about the Dhamma, the Buddhist teachings. The merchants were said to become the first followers of the Buddha.
      Another much smaller model of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya is the Mahabodhi shrine of the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon.