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Thursday, July 11, 2013

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Bodh Gaya, a UNESCO heritage site and the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have been enlightened under the Bodhi tree, has been in the news lately, as 10 bombs exploded at the 1,500 year old Mahabodhi Temple Complex, on Sunday, July 7th. Protests across the globe, amongst the Buddhist community, have arisen and investigations are underway. 

Here are five things to know about Bodh Gaya:

- Bodh Gaya is located in the Gaya district of Bihar, 68 miles from Patna, and has about 30,000 permanent residents

- The original name of the place was Uruvela. After Gautama Buddha was englightened there, the name was adapted, but wasn't really used until the 18th Century.

- Bodh Gaya was the center for Buddhist civilization for centuries, until it was conquered by Turkish armies in the 13th century

- The Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya after 250 years after Buddha, and he built the Vajrasana, diamond throne shrine, at the spot of enlightenment. He also founded the Maha Bodhi temple and a Buddhist monastery

- For years, Bodhgaya has been a dry town. The hotels and guesthouses serve beer as long as it is consumed out of public view, and since 2009, some government liquor stores have come around