Around 2600 years ago Siddhartha Gautama sat under the Bodhi tree (pipal tree) deep in meditation, determined not to leave that spot until he obtained enlightenment. That place would become the sight of the Mahabodhi Temple around 600 AD and rebuilt several times over the centuries. It is now one of the major 7th wonders of the Buddhist world (www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/). The sight receives millions of religious pilgrims and travelers a year, and is a truly powerful and transformative place to visit. The surrounding town of Bodhgaya has several lodges & hotels that cater to pilgrims and tourists in addition to a ring of restaurants a few minute walk from the temple. The temple grounds has a peaceful meditation garden where you can sit for hours contemplating all things, or wander the temple grounds spinning prayer wheels in a place of utter peace. Many pilgrims who visit the temple often sit under a decedent of the original Bodhi tree chanting prayers in unison. Many pilgrims and students also visit Bodhgaya for several months studying various forms of Buddhism and learning about meditation. Bodhgaya also boasts Thai, Tibetan, Burmese, Japanese, Laotian, & Vietnamese monasteries where travelers who are interested in learning more about Buddhism can stay with advance notice.
Since we are not authorities on Buddhism we recommend the following websites for more information:
The Mahabodhi Temple has been the sight of an attempted terrorist attack by Muslim extremists in the past, so security is tight. You are not allowed to take cell phones into the temple grounds, as these were used to detonate small explosives and a fee is charged for a video camera & digital/film camera in addition to the fee to go into the temple grounds.
One of the highlights to our three trips to India was visiting the Mahabodhi Temple as words cannot describe the power and energy that surrounds the grounds. To accommodate travelers from around Asia, an airport was built about 15-20 minutes from Bodhgaya with flights to Bangkok and various parts of India. To get to Bodhgaya take inbound trains to the sprawling and polluted town of Gaya, about a 20 minute rickshaw or taxi ride from Bodhgaya.
Bodhgaya is located in Bihar, one of the poorest regions of India with a number of infrastructure problems and rife with caste discrimination and unemployment. Despite meeting many friendly locals and having great conversations, be wary walking around late at night in non-touristed parts of Bodhgaya and you may want to hire a reputable guide company if traveling within Bihar.
We stayed at Mohammad's House, located in a tiny village within Bodhgaya, which was a very clean and quiet place to stay. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mohammads-Guesthouse/229244540575251
The owner also runs Mohammad's Restaurant, about a 5 minute walk from the hotel with excellent meat & vegetarian dishes including amazing Momo's.
We can also recommend Rahul's Guest House located closer to temple grounds: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g424922-d2667117-Reviews-Rahul_Guest_House-Bodh_Gaya_Bihar.html