Buddha Gaya (Bodhgaya) is an important and holy place for all the Buddhists of the world. It is at this place that Siddartha attained enlightenment and proclaimed the Four Noble Truths through the Eight Fold path leading to Nibbana.
Buddha Gaya was earlier known as Uruvela during the Buddha’s times. Uruvela was situated on the sandy banks of Neranjana river, now known as Falgu river. In around circa 250 BCE, Emperor Ashoka visited this place during his 11th year of reign and donated 1,00,000 gold coins for building a vihara. He also built a 10 feet high wall for protecting the Bodhi tree (pipal) under which the Buddha meditated. During Ashoka’s time, this place was known as Sambodhi or Mahabodhi. The name Buddha Gaya came into use in the 18th century. Ashoka built a polished Vajrasana (a seat where the Buddha sat for meditation and attained enlightenment). Ashoka also recreated the cloistered walk of the Buddha with 22 pillared base each with a mark of “a” to “t” in Ashokan Dhammalipi script. The donations and the work carried out by Ashoka can be seen on the 8th major rock edict, toranas of Sanchi Stupa 1 and on the Stupa railing at Bharhut.