When the first bomb went off at 5.15am inside the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya, it hit Tenzing Dorjee, a Tibetan monk, on the foot. He had no time to lie there waiting for help.
Even as blood gushed out of the wound, the 50-year-old monk took out his towel, wrapped it around the injured area and limped, yet briskly, to the primary health centre, about 100 metres from the temple gate.
Elsewhere in the temple complex, Myanmarese monk Vilas Ga, 30, was doing the parikrama (peruambulatory walk), when the second bomb went off near the Mahabodhi Tree.
Possibly more powerful than the first blast, the impact of the second threw him to the floor and he found splinter injuries on his face, neck, chest, abdomen and feet.
“Devotees brought Vilas to the health centre, while Dorjee came on his own,” Dr Umesh Kumar Verma, the medical officer-in-charge, who was on the night shift, said. “Both of them were staying at Nigma monastery and must have reached the hospital around 5.30am. Dorjee was visibly shaken, but still mustered courage to come by himself.”
Verma said he was jolted out of his sleep by the sound of the blast. “I had a feeling that the general apprehensions of the last few months had come true.” Perhaps anticipating a terror attack, the administration had directed the health centre to be prepared for dealing with cases of trauma injury, he said.
Former local legislator Sarbajeet Kumar was on his daily morning walk to the temple when the bombs exploded. “I saw smoke and heard the sound of the blasts,” he said. “I ran for shelter.”
Due to the impact of the blasts, windows were shattered in one of the buildings, a wooden door at a small temple was destroyed and debris strewn inside another building.
Arvind Singh, a member of the Mahabodhi temple management committee, assured that the temple complex was safe and had suffered no damage.
Committee secretary Dorji said: “Three of the four blasts occurred within the temple complex and targeted the Bodhi Tree. The first blast took place close to it, but its impact was contained as the crude bomb was placed under a concrete bench at its base. This is where the two monks, who were meditating, were injured.”
The second blast, he said, took place in the enclosure where religious texts and books are kept. Furniture was damaged, but statues and monuments nearby were spared.
Locals said there was panic all around. “There was commotion in the nearby hotels and monasteries, where hundreds of foreign tourists from more than 30 countries and domestic pilgrims were staying,” Ranjit Singh, a local resident, said. “They ran out in fear.”