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Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya (Bihar) 699

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhgaya (Bihar) 699

Artist: Anonymous

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1800

Shelfmark: WD699

Item number: 699

Length: 25.4

Width: 42.2

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Drawing

Watercolour of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya in Bihar, by an anonymous artist, part of the MacKenzie Collection, c. 1789 - 1820. Inscribed on front in ink: 'Bouth-Gyah.'

Colin MacKenzie (1754-1821) joined the East India Company as an engineer at the age of 28 and spent the majority of his career in India. He used the salary he earned from his military career as a captain, major and finally a colonel to finance his research into the history and religion of Indian and Javan culture. During his surveys he collected and recorded details concerning every aspect of Indian history, architecture, language, life and religion, resulting in thousands of drawings and copies of inscriptions. The Mahabodhi Temple complex is one of the holiest sites related to the life of the Buddha as it is the place where he attained enlightenment. The present temple dates from the 7th century with later additions, and was built on the site of a previous temple erected by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. The temple consists of a central sanctuary with a tall pyramidal tower that is over 50 metres high and houses a large gilded image of the Buddha. The temple is built in front of the Bodhi Tree, the tree under which the Buddha obtained enlightenment, which is surrounded by a quadrangular stone railing that dates to the 2nd century BC.

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