Phra Chedi Si Maha Pho (พระเจดีย์ศรีมหาโพธิ์) is a replica of the famous Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, India, which marks the place where the Buddha achieved enlightenment under the Bhodi tree. This sacred Chedi is located a short walk from Phra Chedi Siri Maha Maya and a few hundred meters from Wat Tham Apai Damrongtham on Phu Pha Lek mountain in the Song Dao district of Sakon Nakhon.
Built from 1999-2001, Phra Chedi Si Maha Pho is 29 meters high, while the Mahabodhi Temple in India stands 55 meters tall and originally was built by King Ashoka during the 3rd century BC.
Phra Chedi Si Maha Pho has a ground floor room with 5 principal Buddha statues. Upstairs, there is a large standing Buddha statue. Unfortunately, the entrance to these areas is not always open. On the outside of the Chedi, there are small pagodas in the four corners, and about 200 large and small Buddha images embedded in the outside walls. Under the base of the pagoda, there is a hall where the Buddha's relics are enshrined, but this area is often not accessible.
The story of the Buddha's enlightenment under the Bhodi tree goes like this. After years of rigorous ascetic practices, the Buddha (then known as Siddhartha) realized that extreme self-denial was not the path to enlightenment. He decided to pursue a Middle Way and sat in deep meditation under a great fig tree, which later would became known as the Bodhi tree.
During his meditation, he faced and overcame various temptations and distractions presented by the forces of Mara (a symbolic representation of the obstacles to enlightenment). He delved deep into his mind and attained profound insight into the nature of existence, the causes of suffering, and the path to liberation.
On doing so, he became the Buddha, the awakened one. He comprehended the Four Noble Truths, which explain the nature of suffering, its causes, the cessation of suffering, and the Noble Eightfold Path, a guide to the end of suffering.
The Bodhi tree holds great symbolic significance in Buddhism. It serves as a symbol of wisdom, knowledge, and awakening. Its branches spread wide, representing the unity of all beings, the Bodhi tree is a reminder of the potential for every individual to attain enlightenment and awaken to their true nature.