Visitors will soon have access to the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya as the temple management committee has decided to reopen the shrine from September 21 following the guidelines issued a few weeks ago by the Union home ministry regarding reopening of monuments along with many other institutions.
Mahabodhi, the first world heritage site of the state at Bodh Gaya, was closed in March this year due to Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown and though it opened for some time between June and July (from June 8 to July 15, 2020), entry of general visitors was stopped again to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
From Monday, when the temple will reopen, use of masks and sanitizers will be mandatory for visitors and while only 10 people will be allowed inside the Garbha Griha or the sanctum sanctorum of the temple at a time, the temple premises too, will not have more than 100 visitors/pilgrims at a time.
Besides, visiting hours to the temple too will be limited, from 6 am to 9 am in the morning and from 3 pm to 6 pm in the evening.
Mahabodhi temple is the site where Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment under a Peepal tree.
“This arrangement will continue till September 30 and from October 1st, the visiting hours will be restored to the original routine, that is from 6 am to 9 pm,” N Dorje, BTMC (Bodh Gaya temple management committee) secretary, said.
But all the protocols of the Covid-19 pandemic will be strictly followed, he added.
“Things seem to be getting back on track after a long time. Due to Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown, the Budh Purnima festival was turned into a low-key affair. Only the rituals were performed at the temple while the devotees in different countries could attend it virtually on Mahabodhi’s Facebook page. Hope things will remain stable this time,” he said.
Rakesh Kumar, president of the tourist guide association, said the reopening of Mahabodhi temple has raised hopes of better days in the coming months. “Tourism season is to start from October and though foreign tourists may not come here as international flights from Gaya airport have remained suspended, domestic tourists may turn up,” he said.