|The Mahabodhi Temple this morning|
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, who was in Bodh Gaya for the INEB conference, commented casually that the first temple was destroyed and this one was built by Muslims. Apparently, they then built a mosque on the site of the original temple, which was not next to the Bodhi tree but on a plot that is outside the current temple complex. (He then wondered if the mosque was for sale.)
This is Wat Pa Buddhagaya, which is one of at least six Thai temples in Bodh Gaya, and the site of the main conference. Its right behind the Mahabodhi Temple grounds, and you can see the spire in the distance. I snuck up on the roof of the monks' quarters with a few Thai artists to take pictures. (Here we are in a rather serious pose.) They told me that this temple is created for the Forest monks tradition and the art is in a style typical of Chiangmai.
While he was here, Aut (center), installed the new lotus throne in the inner courtyard behind the Bodhi tree, which is usually inaccessible. (My pictures are only through the sandstone fence around it). He told me that he was at the temple until 4am doing the gold leaf, and had caught a cold in the process. I'm not sure who commissioned him, but it underscores what an international project the Mahabodhi Temple is. Later that week, Richard Dixie told me that the new gold spire of the temple was created and installed by Nepali master metalsmiths who had to scale the face of the temple to put it on.
Here's the view behind us that isn't usually seen from the town. I wish all of Bodh Gaya were like this! The streets get a bit dusty and its easy to forget we're just a few minutes from verdant fields.