Bodh Gaya, it is said, is the number one place to go to realize that you don’t need to go to Bodh Gaya. The small town in India is famous for one reason: here, the Buddha achieved spiritual enlightenment under a ficus tree some twenty-five centuries ago. Some regard the place as a spiritual mecca.
But Buddhists have no mecca, strictly speaking. There are four Buddhist holy sites in the Indian subcontinent—Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar—where the Buddha was born, was enlightened, first preached, and died, respectively—but visiting any of them is non-obligatory for even the most devout people. Despite the long tradition of pilgrims journeying to these holy sites, there is nothing in the teachings mandating that Buddhists visit.