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Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya approximately 250 years after Buddha’s time, erecting a monument in the form of a shrine under the Bodhi Tree under which, according to tradition, the Buddha attained enlightenment.
Ashoka is credited with being the creator of the well-known Mahabodhi Temple. The city was at the heart of a Buddhist civilization for centuries, with life being centered around the Mahabodhi Temple and other monasteries and monuments.
Remnants of arrow heads, fish hooks, stone implements, and pottery have been unearthed.
In the 1990s followers of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar campaigned for exclusive Buddhist control of the temple, which was granted. Buddhist temples and monasteries in the city have since been built by the people of Bhutan, China, Japan, Myanmar, Nepal, Sikkim, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet and Vietnam in a wide area around the temple.
These buildings reflect the architectural style and both exterior and interior decoration of their respective countries.
The main monastery of Bodh Gaya, around which the city was built, is the Mahabodhi Temple, which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 based upon the criteria that it has “outstanding universal importance as it is one of the most revered and sanctified places in the world”.
However, this holy city reflects the discord of the human condition.