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January 4 - 9 2010

Gaya, India

Bodhgaya is a tiny town around 13 Km from Gaya. It was here 2,600 years ago that Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment beneath a Bodhi Tree and became Buddha.

We wanted to visit this place to see the three; however, it became of a special interest to go there when we found out that the Dalai Lama was going to be in town giving some teachings on the Path to Enlightenment.

We were lucky to be able to get train tickets to Gaya from where we could catch an auto rickshaw to go to Bodhgaya. As we arrived at 2.00 am to Gaya we decided to stay that night there. Next day, we went to Bodhgaya to try luck with the hotels. Everybody told us that it was going to be crazy as there would be no rooms any more and if there were, the prices would be astronomical. The first hotel we visited was fully booked. The second one had a room, claiming that it was the last one they had. The price was high but not as we had been suggested. So we decided to take it.

As soon as we had our accommodation sorted out, we went to register. We were well prepared with passports and photos. Then, it was the issue of where to sit and how to reserve a place. After a lengthy process we found out that we needed to mark the space where we wanted to sit (everyone would sit in the floor under a huge marquee). So, we bought soft mats (like everyone else), wrote our names and hoped that they will stay there until the right time (the teachings would start in two days). The following day we went to check if everything was fine with our spaces. There was a young Tibetan student (refugee in India) who explained to us that there had been a mistake and that area where we had our spaces had been originally reserved for more than 600 university students. After a lot of debate we agreed that we would keep our sits there and if they didn’t have enough space we would try to look for something else the following day.

The next day the teachings were starting at 9.00 am. We decided to arrive early, at 6.00. We were quite surprised to find out that the queue for foreigners was minimal and soon enough we were at the gates for the security check. Jose Pablo was not allowed to enter because he had a camera and had to go back to the hotel (only 10 minutes away). When Patricia’s turn came up (because the queues for man and women are separate), she was not allow to enter because she had a mobile phone. When we came back, the queue for men was not that bad; however, the one for women had became extremely long and Patricia only managed to get in just before 9.00. The Dalai Lama arrived on time and went straight into the teachings. Soon after that, monks were running around giving away bread, sweet rice and butter tea.

The small town was really crowded (thousands of people came for the teachings); lots of Tibetans, Chinese and Westerners. Even Richard Gere was there! However, it was the number of monks in maroon and yellow robes that dominated the scene. Together with all the devotees, an ocean of Indian poor people and others with severed deformities entered the town every morning with their silver plates ready for the generosity of the visitors.

We went to see the 1,500-year-old beautiful Mahabodhi Temple. It is a 50 meter pyramidal spiral and has a 2 meter high image of a seated Buddha inside. The Bodhi Tree is just next to the Temple and is a gorgeous looking tree providing a generous shadow. You can find people there just sitting around, meditating or doing prostrations.

Bodhgaya was also extremely cold and the only warm places were the temporal tent restaurants where we ended up listening many of the teachings with our radio.

permalink written by  patryandjose on January 4, 2010 from Gaya, India
from the travel blog: Resumen de dónde estamos y para dónde vamos? - Summary of where we are and where are we going to?
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