Two days in Bodh Gaya at Bihar State in Northern India to visit the Mahabodhi Temple, the holiest place on Earth according to the Buddhist faith. It is believed that the Buddha attained nirvana under the holy bodhi tree at the grounds of the temple complex.

After my arrival at Kolkata, I started to travel westwards and couldn’t just pass off a visit to the Mahabodhi Temple, the site where Siddharta Gautama, the “Buddha,” attained nirvana. I got on an overnight train to Gaya (the nearest sizable town) and then took a shared auto rickshaw ride to Bodh Gaya.

One full day was enough to go sightseeing at the temple complex and other Buddhist temples in Bodhgaya. Security was tight following major bomb attacks that happened a few months earlier but there were no serious threats at the time of my visit.

Bodhgaya is said to be the “Navel of the Earth.” It is a popular destination for people interested to take meditation classes. I would have loved to stay at least a few days if my itinerary wasn’t so fully packed.

Itinerary Rundown

  • Kolkata: The Maidan, BBD Bagh, Barabazar
Day 1
  • Kolkata
  • Bodhgaya
  • Kolkata to Gaya by Train
  • Gaya to Bodhgaya by Autorickshaw
  • Bodhgaya Hostel Check-in
  • In and around Bodhgaya
    • Mahabodhi Temple
Day 2
  • Bodhgaya
  • Varanasi
  • Bodhgaya to Gaya by Autorickshaw
  • Gaya to Varanasi by Train
  • Varanasi: City Center, Sarnath, and Ram Nagar
  • Northern India
  • South and Southeast Asia

Trip Date — August 2013

Itinerary Notes & Tips

Day 0

  • 10:00pm – Departure from Kolkata-Howrah Railway Station
  • 10:00pm to 4:20am – Ride train from Kolkata to Gaya via Howrah-Mumbai Mail (train #12321)
    • Sleeper class seat – R271.24

Day 1

  • 4:20am – Arrival at Gaya Junction Railway Station
  • Ride auto rickshaw from Gaya to Bodhgaya  – R20
    • First driver I asked offered the ride for R200. After I refused another came offering R100. Then, finally someone offered it for R20.
  • After my arrival at Bodhgaya, I was greeted by a motorcycle driver / tout who gave me a free lift so I can check Rahul Guest House. It was one of the hostels I read at Lonely Planet guidebook, so I agreed.

Bodhgaya Hostel

  • Check-in at Rahul Guesthouse
    • Double room with private TB  – R400
    • Singles (R300) were fully booked at the time of my visit.
    • Decent hostel with strong (free) WiFi and a spacious balcony at the second floor that was great for meeting other travelers.
    • Bought onward train ticket from hostel tout
  •  Eat at Hari-om Restaurant (found around the corner from Rahul Guest House)
    • Local breakfast (Vegetable curry with chapati) – R40
    • Milk curry – R30

Bodhgaya Walking Tour

  • Mahabodhi Temple
    • No admission fee
    • Camera fee – R100
  • Chinese Temple
  • Tibetan Temple
  • 80-foot Buddha Statue
  • Thai Temple
  • Mahabodhi Society of India – Buddh-gaya Centre
  • Eat at Hari-om Restaurant
    • Litti Chokha (Chickpeas with chatni; Traditional Bihari food) – R70
    • Black coffee

Day 2

  • 4:30am – Ride auto rickshaw from Bodhgaya to Gaya – R300
  • 5:05am – Arrival at Gaya Junction Railway Station
  • Ride train from Varanasi to Gaya