Pen and ink drawing, of the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya in Bihar, by Sir Charles D’Oyly, (1781-1845), dated 27th December 1824, from an Album of 80 drawings of views in Bengal and Bihar taken between January 1823 and May 1825.
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. D’Oyly arrived in India in 1797 and spent his first few years in Calcutta as Assistant to the Registrar of the Court of Appeal. He was Collector of Dacca from 1808-18 and was made Opium Agent at Patna in 1821. Whilst at Dacca he met the artist George Chinnery and became his pupil from 1808-12, D’Oyly was a prolific amateur artist who was greatly admired by the European community.