Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who is on a state visit arrived in Bodh Gaya yesterday where he was met with a special welcome at the Gaya Airport with crowds lining the nearby roads to welcome him.At the Mahabodhi (Mahavihara) Temple Complex, the Prime Minister worshipped at the Sacred Bodhi Tree and the Vajrasana (Diamond Throne).The Mahabodhi Temple Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the four holy sites related to the life of The Buddha. It is here that Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained Enlightenment. The Bodhi Tree that stands here today is a direct descendant of the original Bodhi Tree.
In the third Century B.C., Emperor Asoka set up the Vajrasana of polished sandstone to represent the seat where Lord Buddha attained Enlightenment. The current structure dates back to between the fifth and sixth centuries. It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely in brick, still standing in India, from the late Gupta period. The Prime Minister spoke with the Buddhist monks at the temple as well as Sri Lankan devotees who had gathered at the premises.
The decision to visit cultural and religious sites after the official meetings in New Delhi was made following a request by Prime Minister Modi. In Prime Minister Modiâ€™s letter that invited Prime Minister Rajapaksa to India, he said, â€œI would also like to suggest that during the visit, you could consider visiting other places in India as well that symbolise our shared heritage and deep-rooted bonds.â€Having accepted this request, Prime Minister Rajapaksa embarked on these visits to Varanasi, Bodh Gaya and Tirupati to further cement the strong cultural bonds that the two countries and peoples share.