[In continuation from Photoblog of Trip to Allahabad-Sarnath-Varanasi ]
We left Varanasi by early morning Poorva Express and reached Gaya by 10.00 a.m. to be in time to perform the last and the most important sequence of the Shraddha ceremony. The ritual took almost remainder of the day. Next day, we shifted from the priest’s house to Ajatshatru Hotel, near Gaya railway station (Rs.600 to Rs.750/- per double bed room with geyser, TV, western toilet ) to have some flexibility in catching an early morning train to Patna. In the afternoon, we hired a Sumo (Rs.900/-) for a half-day trip to Bodh Gaya. Our day and timing of the visit were wrong as the main Mahabodhi temple was out of bound for tourists as some VIPs from abroad ( we were told that a prince from royal family of Thailand was having an exclusive pooja at the temple) and the earliest time the temple expected to be opened for tourists was around 8.00 p.m. So we had to be satisfied with viewing the Mahabodhi temple complex from outside the gate. Some of the other country’s Buddha temples were also out of bound for tourists due to 3-day ‘Offering of Robes to Venerable Maha Sangha’ ceremony. We could see Tibetan Karma temple, Namgyal Tibetan Monastery and Maha Bodh Vihara. Because of the Buddhist festival and Diwali holidays, Bodh Gaya was crowded with domestic tourists and pilgrims from south-east Asian countries and there was a festival like atmosphere all over the place. As a tourist, one would need a full day to see Mahabodhi and other country’s Buddha temples in Bodh Gaya.
Next day, we boarded an early morning Inter-city Express for Patna. Our visit to Patna was more for the convenience of catching a starting train back to Mumbai than with to do with sight-seeing interest. However, having reached the vicinity of some of the important tourist places around Patna, we had decided to spend a couple of days more in Patna to make a trip to Nalanda-Rajgir-Pawapuri. After reaching Patna, we checked in Hotel City Centre (AC double bed room @1600/-, 24 hours hot water, TV, excellent food in its restaurant), near Patna railway station. In the afternoon, we took a round of Patna City and spent some time in Golghar and Gandhi Maidan. Unfortunately, Patna museum was closed by the time we reached there and also we could not reach the other side of Ganga river due to massive traffic jam on the road bridge over Ganga.
Next day, we hired Bolero (Rs.11/- per km) and Indica (Rs.8/- per km) to visit Pawagiri-Rajgir-Nalanda. The vehicles booked through the travel desk of the Hotel a day before, did not turn up at the appointed time of 7.00 a.m. The travel desk had to arrange for other vehicles. With one hour lost in this process and a shorter daylight, we could do only Pawapuri and Rajgir as the counter for entry tickets to Nalanda ruins was closed by 5.00 p.m. It was most disappointing for all of us for not able to visit Nalanda ruins. On a hindsight, we felt that we should have travelled direct to Rajgir from Gaya for sight-seeing and after taking an overnight halt at Rajgir, we could have gone to Patna the next day evening after covering the remaining portion of tourist places.
The roads in Gaya, Patna and the tourist circuit of Pawapuri-Nalnda-Rajgir were far better as compared with that of Allahabad-Sarnath-Varanasi. Also, this time there was no fear psychosis in travelling and taking a walk in the night in Gaya and Patna as compared with what I had felt during my last visit to Gaya in 2000. In fact, an orderly in our Gaya hotel told me that in earlier time, he dared not venture out to reach his home after the end of his shift at 11.00 p.m. He would invariably stay back in the hotel and go to his house the next morning. Now he says that there is no such fear and he goes home every day after the end of his shift at 11.00 p.m.
Some of the pictures taken during our visit to Bodh Gaya-Patna-Pawapuri-Rajgir have been uploaded below with captions.
|The road to Bodh Gaya|
|Being the Hindu month of Kartik, there were more tourists and pilgrims including those from Sri Lanka and the far east countries.|
|Face of the statue of Great Budha in Dhyan Mudra.|
|Fresco on a wall of Tibetan Karma temple.|
|Fresco on the wall of Tibetan Karma temple|
|Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya seen from outside the gate.|
|Tower of Mahabodhi Temple.|
|View from Golghar.|
|View of Ganga river side from Golghar.|
|One of the two spiral stair cases of Golghar.|
|Aradhana Jain Mandir, Pawapuri.|
|Roof travellers on a Mini Van going towards Nalanda.|
|The third reclining Buddha idol|
|The fourth standing Buddha idol.|
|Rajgir Kund temple|
|Picnic spot with swimming pool adjunct to Rajgir Kund complex. The entry fee is Rs.25/- per head.|