Lord Buddha meditated under a pipal tree in Bodhgaya and attained enlightenment. The tree is called "Bodhi Tree". A descendant of the same tree, still flourishes here. Gaya is also an important Centre of Hindu Pilgrimage where people go to pray for the salvation of their ancestors.
Buddhism as a religion was born and evolved here through his preaching. Several centuries after Buddha's passing away, the Maurya Emperor Ashoka (234-198 BC) revived, consolidated and spread the Buddhism. He built monasteries for the Buddhist monks and the pillars to commemorate numerous historical sites associated with the Buddha's life. Most of these are intact helping scholars and pilgrims alike to trace the life events and spreading of the religion not only in India but also outside the country.
An architectural wonder and world heritage site, Mahabodhi temple signifies truth. While its architecture belongs to Gupta era, there are later ages inscriptions describing visits of pilgrims from Sri Lanka, Myanmar and China between 7th and 10th century AD. Hieuen Tsang visited this temple in 7th century.