The undisputed melting pot of Buddhism, Bodhgaya was where Prince Siddhartha attained enlightenment beneath a bodhi tree and became Buddha 2600 years ago. In terms of blessedness, this tiny temple town is to Buddhists what Mecca is to Muslims. Unsurprisingly, it attracts thousands of pilgrims from around the world every year, who come for prayer, study and meditation.
The most hallowed spot in town is a bodhi tree which flourishes amid a beautiful garden setting, its roots embedded in the same soil as its celebrated ancestor. Additionally, many monasteries and temples dot the bucolic landscape, built in their national style by foreign Buddhist communities. The ambience is a mix of monastic tranquillity and small-town commotion (a booming non-religious tourism industry has brought along with it the usual invasion of tourist paraphernalia, souvenir stalls and a serious rubbish problem). Incidentally, Bodhgaya has the best range of accommodation in Bihar and offers the most traveller camaraderie anywhere in Bihar and Jharkhand.
The best time to visit is November to March, when Tibetan pilgrims come down from McLeod Ganj in Dharamsala. The high season is from December to January, which is also when the Dalai Lama often visits.