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Gaya is one of the most ancient and holiest cities in India. It is a major tourist attraction in the state of Bihar is of high historical and mythological significance. Gaya is a holy city located at the banks of Phalgu River which finds its mention in the epic Ramayana, Mahabharata and also in sacred Buddhist texts. Gaya is a diverse city that accommodates pilgrimage sites for Jains, Hindus, and Buddhists. The place is also famous for Pitrapaksha Mela where people from across the country come to perform 'Pind Daan' for the people who have departed from the material world.

Ancient History of Gaya 

Gaya is 100km away from the capital city of Bihar, i.e. Patna and is the second-largest city in the state of Bihar. Hill ranges and Phalgu river surrounds this city from all 4 sides and the presence of nature in abundance makes this city a perfect spot to relax and introspect. 

Folklores related to Gaya claim that Lord Rama along with his wife and brother came here to perform the ‘shradh rituals’ and ‘Pind Daan’ for his father Dashratha, who was the maharaja of Ayodhya and one of the renowned kings of Raghuvansha kingdom. 

Gayapuri is another ancient name of Gaya that finds its mention in the Mahabharata. It is said that there lived a demon Gayasur who was transformed into hills by Lord Vishnu. Locals believe that the hills that surround the present-day Gaya are the transformed physical entities of demon Gayasur. 

Also Read: Religiously and politically rich city this place has a lot of ethnic value attached to it

Apart from these Hindu significances, the place witnessed the enlightenment journey of Siddhartha who later became Gautama Buddha. It is a well-known fact that Lord Buddha got enlightenment in Bodh Gaya which is now a popular pilgrimage spot for all the Buddhist followers from across the world.    

Modern History of Gaya 

Once a secular and liberal place, Gaya later became an administrative hub for the British in the 19th Century. The city operated with the name Saheb Ganj during this period. Gaya also hosted the 37th INC meet and witnessed the freedom struggles against the British. 

The INC meet was headed by Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das and was participated by prominent leaders like Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, and Maulana Azad. After India’s independence, the city was reinvented as a spiritual tourist destination. 

Places to visit in Gaya

Phalgu River

Sited on the east side of Gaya, the water can be seen in the river only during the monsoon. If you visit at any other time of the year you will find it dry. In case you dig some mud, you’ll find water flowing continually below the river bed. Locals claim that this river flows below the bed because it was cursed by the Goddess Sita. Local priests claim that performing puja along the banks of the river has maximum benefit and it also blesses the next 7 generations of the person who performs shradh, and tarpan here.

Vishnupad Temple

The temple was constructed in 1780 with black stone, this age-old temple is a popular and unusual destination to visit in Gaya. The temple has sacred footprints of Lord Vishnu imprinted on a stone slab, which is believed to be of the time when Lord Vishnu crushed Gayasur under his feet. Every day these footprints are covered with special Malaya Chandan and adorned with flowers. Vishnu Sahasranam is chanted with the offering of Tulsi leaves at the temple.

Gadadhar Vishnu temple

Just next to Vishnupad temple on the banks of Phalgu river lies a temple named Gadadhar Vishnu temple. A statue of a 4-armed, black avatar of Lord Vishnu carrying a Gada is worshipped here.


Ratnaghara is made of two words Ratna (jewels) and ghara (house), which together means ‘house of jewels’ is a popular Mahabodhi temple in the city. The temple features the tallest statue of Gautama Buddha in a meditative state that is 880 meters tall and was inaugurated and consecrated by Dalai Lama. 

Tibetan Monastery 

This one is the biggest monastery in the state of Bihar and is known to be home to many original and sacred Buddhist texts. The temple also has a 10m high drum made of metal which is known as the wheel of law or Dharmachakra. 

Events and festivals in and Around Gaya

Sonepur Mela

Sonpur Mela, also known as the Harihar Kshetra Mela, is one of the biggest cattle fairs in India. The fair is a huge attraction for farmers and local people who are into the dairy business. People may visit the fair to buy or sell elephants, horses, dogs, birds, etc. Read more

Chhath Puja

Chhath Puja is the thanksgiving festival that is celebrated in Bihar. During the festival, people offer their gratitude to the Sun God. On this day people gather at the banks of River Ganga and take a dip in the holy waters to pray to God and perform rituals. Read more

Shradh or Pitrapaksha Mela

Pitrapaksha is a holy event that is of much value to the people of Bihar and beyond as well. Pitrapaksha which is commonly known as ‘Pind Daan’ is a holy Hindu rite that is done in order to offer salvation to the souls that have departed. Read more

Best time to visit Gaya

September to January is the best time to visit Gaya. The climate during this time is pleasant and one can easily escape the scorching heat in these months. During this time many festivals also take place in the temples hence one may explore the city to the fullest. 

How to reach Gaya

By Road. Gaya is approx. 1,000, 1,700, 500 and 2,000km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Traveling by a personal car or bike or an interstate tourist bus will give you a chance to explore village life during the journey. All the top tourist destinations in Gaya are well connected by roadways hence commuting within the city won't be a problem. 

By Rail. Gaya's junction is the railway station where one may deboard to explore this holy city and the holy structures that are spread all over. The station receives regular and frequent trains from all the metro cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru. Howrah Rajdhani Express, Jharkhand Swarna Jayanti Expres, and Maha Bodhi Express are a few popular trains on which one may make the reservations.  

By Air. Gaya Airport is the nearest one to the city and is just 10km away. The airport receives direct and connecting flights from across the country. From the airport, tourists may take local transport like a taxi or a bus to reach the desired destination in the city.  

You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here

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