|The 80ft Buddha|
|Tibetan prayer flags at Maha Bodhi Temple|
|Monks at Maha Bodhi Temple|
After we got checked in and unloaded, we walked toward all the activity, stopping at a busy street vendor's stand for two plates of vegetable momos and chai for lunch. The momos were 20 rupees for a plate of ten, and the chai was 10 rupees, so for the equivalent of about $1.20 for both of us, we sat and ate a delicious and filling lunch. The rest of the afternoon we spent wandering through the crowds in the bazaar and the Tibetan refugee market, looking at their wares, and people watching, since it was virtually impossible to get anywhere near the temples. When dinnertime rolled around, we decided against finding a real restaurant and instead hit another of the popular street vendors' stalls for some veg fried noodles and chai, sitting amongst a group of Tibetan monks who were also enjoying their dinner of boiled eggs and noodles. As the cook pulled the eggs from the pot, he spun one on a plate. The monks looked puzzled, so the man took a raw egg, spun it, then spun the boiled one again so they could see the difference. The entire row of monks smiled and laughed (I guess they learned something new that day). Then, since our momos were so delicious, we split another plate of them for dessert!
|Two very professional chapati bakers|
|Flower offerings line every hedge in the temple grounds|
We made our way through the grounds, sitting next to the lake where Buddha meditated, walking along the path he walked and meditated, and stood under the massive bodhi tree which is a descendant of the bodhi tree he sat beneath and achieved enlightenment. It would have been quite moving but for the thousands of other people around us. Even though we both had hoped for it to be a more thoughtful and peaceful experience, it was still pretty amazing to be in the same place where Buddha was over 2,500 years ago. Once we made our way around the temple, we headed out to see some of the many Buddhist temples that have been built by other countries in Bodh Gaya. It was interesting to see them back to back to note the stylistic differences between them. We immediately recognized the Thai Wat from its steep roof (even though it wasn't covered in mirrored tiles like many in Thailand are). The interior of the temple was painted in watery scenes with koi and mythical sea creatures. It was stunning. The Bhutan Temple more resembled a pagoda and had a more vividly painted and carved interior. I think the Japanese Temple was my favorite. From the outside, it looked very plain, painted a pale, sage green, with natural wood. On the inside, it was also very simple, but the ceiling was covered in paintings of cranes and various flowers, including irises, peonies, and roses. The walls had painted scenes of Buddha's life, from his birth to enlightenment. It was stunning. After we'd toured the temples, we rejoined the crowd and did some more people watching for a while before making our way back to our favorite spot for some more noodles for dinner.