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Mahabodhi Temple Building Amenities

what we do

LBDFI began work in the compound of the Mahabodhi Mahavihara in 2007, continuing projects initiated by TNMC, by completing the installation of 8 dedicated facilities to make offerings of butter lamps at the main temple. During 2008, recognizing that the southern quadrant of the temple compound was being used as a garbage dump, LBDFI sponsored the removal of 140 trailer loads of refuse and landscaped the entire area, bringing in over 500 trailer loads of soil to raise the ground level and stop flooding. New sewer pipes were installed from the main toilet facilities and a new pavilion installed at the rear of the site. This project lead to a full redesign and creation of a new south garden, a project that was initiated in 2009 and completed in 2012.

In 2010, permission was granted to regild the copper spire of the Temple and scaffolding was erected to conduct this project in the summer of the year. The work was completed in November 2010.

In 2011 the Beautiful Bodhgaya project was initiated, presenting projects to clean up the general environment of Bodhgaya Township. Existing public toilets and washrooms were renovated, and new facilities built on public lands bordering the Kalachakra grounds. Donations of waste bins were made to the local authorities, and regular collections of refuse initiated in 2012.

Gilding the Mahabodhi Temple Spire

In the spring of 2010, the Directors of Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International became aware that some of the decorative elements on the spire of the Mahabodhi Mahāvihāra were coming loose and were a potential danger to pilgrims visiting the temple. Working in collaboration with TNMC, LBDFI offered to renovate the spire. The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee immediately approached UNESCO and the ASI; no objections were raised to the project.

A team of experienced metalworkers from Kathmandu were invited to undertake the renovation and began work in October 2010. New copper plates were fabricated to repair missing or damaged elements, new leaf and Triratna ornaments were constructed and mounted on the outer rings, and the entire structure was gold-gilded in the traditional manner to protect from acid rain damage. TNMC donated 2kg of gold to the gilding, and 1.5 kg was donated from local sources.

Judging from the age and condition of the spire structure which is made from beaten rather than rolled copper sheets, it is possible that this was the first full gilding program carried out on the spire since medieval times when it was donated to the Mahabodhi temple by the Kingdom of Burma in the eleventh century.

Repairs to the copper spire itself were made when it was reerected in the nineteenth century after it had fallen and was excavated on the west side of the Temple, but it was not regilded at that time, nor fully regilded during the stucco restoration carried out by the ASI in 2002.

The gold spire was opened on October 29th, the great offering day of Buddha’s descent from the heavenly realms, to great rejoicing by all of the monastic institutions located in Bodh Gayā. A ceremony attended by hun dreds of Theravadin and Tibetan monks greeted the opening, and new flood lighting lit the newly golden spire for the first time. A full report on the regilding and repair program can be found as appendix 1 to this report.

TNMC also offered 5 kg of gold to the Thai Mahasangha who encased the spire entirely in 300 kg of gold in 2013.

South Garden Project

Until quite recently, the garden area to the south of the Mahābodhi Temple has historically been in very poor condition. Following work to complete the Butterlamp offering complex, in 2008, LBDFI-India undertook to clean up the area, removing 140 tractor-loads of rubbish and adding over 500 tractor loads of topsoil to create a landscaped slope suitable for planting. In 2009, the Foundation teamed up with San Francisco-based Greenworks Design to design and plant a new garden for the south of the temple. A reinforced wall was constructed to create an elevated terrace with steps leading down to a pavilion suitable for walking meditation. The fountain was extended to surround the existing Vietnamese rock garden. The initial phase of the project was completed in 2012, after which additional projects were undertaken to create a pilgrimage walk around the Mucilinda lake with the erection of new stairways on either side. After these additional renovations, the South Garden project was renewed in 2017, starting with the creation and installation of black granite plaques produced by the Yeshe De Project which contain Prajnaparamita sutras in Devanagari, English and Tibetan. LBDFI-India collaborated with Living Green for a new project design that incorporates plants from the historical Pali Canon.

Recreating the Forests of Uruvela

In the time of the Buddha, all of the area around Bodh Gayā was covered in forests. In more recent times, intensive farming and poor rainfall have led to the loss of many of these precious trees. In summer of 2008, LBDFI India approached all the temples and viharas near the Mahabodhi Temple, offering to sponsor the planting of 1,000 trees to encourage reforestation.

In 2012, LBDFI sponsored the planting of six hundred bamboo plants planted in Veluvana Park, Rajgir. Six Hundred monks from the International Tipitaka Chanting Ceremony placed bamboo plants in holes that had been prepared in advance to formally begin the process of re-planting the Bamboo groves that gave this famous park its name. An additional six hundred bam boo plants were placed in 2013.

Cremation ground

Cremations traditionally occur along the edge of the Nairanjana River in Bodh Gayā, but there has never been a covered facility to allow cremations to occur during the monsoon months. There is such a facility 12 miles away in the city of Gayā, but people from the Bodh Gayā region often lack the funds to take their deceased relatives to this location. As a result, for many years bodies have simply been thrown into the river during the monsoon months because cremation fires cannot be kept burning.

Becoming aware of this situation, LBDFI-India donated the funds for the construction of a metal canopy and concrete stand to allow cremations to occur under cover, along with the installation of a water pump and steps down to the Nairanjana river to facilitate the offering of ashes. The new facility was opened in October 2010, and is now regularly used by local people.

Building Public Amenities in Bodh Gayā

 LBDFI is committed to improving the facilities for pilgrims and local people at all the sacred sites of the Buddhist heritage of India. As a first step in this program, the Foundation constructed and opened a new public toilet and shower facility in Bodh Gayā close to the Mahabodhi temple complex. Opened to the public in February 2013, it is fully staffed by a local caretaker family who are funded annually to take care of this facility. These toilets and showers benefit all the locals in Bodh Gayā. There are twelve toilets for both women and men, along with shower areas. As second toilet facility on the East side of the main Temple was renovated in 2012.

Dustbins

In 2011, LBDFI donated 120 reinforced plastic wheeled commercial-sized garbage bins to the City Council of Bodh Gayā. The Council initiated a regular collection round for all refuse generated by hotels, restaurants, and shops within a one-km radius of the Mahābodhi Temple.

Our Work

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The Light of Buddhadharma Foundation is dedicated to revitalizing and developing the Buddhasasana in India.

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