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GAYA

FACTS & FIGURES

Population383,197
Best time to visitWinters
LanguageBhojpuri and Hindi
STD Codes0631


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INTRODUCTION

Gaya is one of the important holy places for Hindus and thousands of devotees throng this small town every year for pilgrimage. The main pilgrim center in Gaya is the Vishnu temple. Legend has it that this temple was built on Lord Vishnu's footsteps and is thus considered very sacred by the devotees. It is also believed by Hindus that if the final rights are performed in Gaya, the departed soul goes to heaven.

LOCATION

Gaya is located in the central part of the state of Bihar, in the northeastern part of India. It is a part of the great Gangetic plains. It is located to the west of the Falgu River, which is a tributary of river Ganga. It is 13 km north of Bodhgaya and 100 km south of Patna city. The climate of Gaya is tropical. Summers are generally hot (April-June), while winters are cool (October-February). It experiences southwestern monsoon rains from July to September.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

The best time to visit the Gaya is during winter.

HISTORY

There are references to the town of Gaya in the Hindu epic of Ramayana. Sita, the wife of Lord Ram, one of the principal Hindu deities, is said to have cursed the Falgu River. Gaya was a part of the ancient Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC. Inscriptions belonging to King Ashoka, the great Mauryan ruler, have been found near Gaya. The small town of Gaya was the part of the great Mughal Empire in medieval times. After the disintegration of the Mughal Empire, it came under the rule of many regional kingdoms. In 1787 Queen Ahilyabai Holkar, who belonged to the ruling Holkar family of Indore, built the Vishnupad temple (Vishnupad, footstep of Lord Vishnu) in Gaya.

TOURISTS ATTRACTIONS

Gaya is a religious center and it is believed that the principal Hindu God, Vishnu has bestowed upon Gaya the power to absolve the sin of the sinners, who come here for pilgrimage. Pilgrims also come to offer funerary offerings (or pinds) at the ghats along the river and pray for the souls of their ancestors.

The main tourist attraction of Gaya is the Vishnupad temple. This temple was built in the Hindu Shikhar style of architecture and is located on the west bank of Falgu River at the southeastern edge of the town.

There is a small archeological museum in Gaya.

The Brahmajuni hill 1 km southwest of the Vishnupad temple is an important spot. One thousand stone steps lead the travelers to the top of this hill, from where one can have a full view of Gaya.

PLACES AROUND GAYA

There are a number of small shrines near Gaya and pilgrims usually visit them to complete the ritual circuit. Thirty-six km north of Gaya are the ancient caves of Barabar, which belong to the 3rd century BC. These caves are famous for their inscriptions dating back to the time of King Ashok, the great Mauryan ruler. The town of Bodhgaya is 13 km south of Gaya. As Gaya is an important place for Hindu pilgrims, Bodhgaya is one the four holiest places of Buddhism, as Lord Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment here. The historic town of Rajgir is 50 km east of Gaya.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Important Hindu religious festivals are celebrated in Gaya and a hoard of pilgrims descends on this small town to take part in the rituals associated with these festivals.

HOW TO REACH

Gaya does not have an airport of its own.

BY RAIL - There is a small railway station, which is located on the northern part of the town. As Gaya is on the main Delhi-Calcutta railway line, there are a number of trains to Delhi, Calcutta, Varanasi, Puri and Patna.

BY ROAD - There are two bus stands in Gaya, on either side of the Falgu River. The Gandhi Maidan bus station is on the west side of the Falgu River and there are a number of buses to Patna (4 hours) and Ranchi (7 hours), from here. One can catch buses for Rajgir (3 hours) from the Gaurakshini bus station to the east of the Falgu River. There is good bus service for the holy towns of Bodhgaya and Varanasi. Auto-rickshaws ply between Gaya and Bodhgaya, but they are overcrowded, most of the time.

One can move around the city in auto-rickshaws and cycle-rickshaws.

WHERE TO STAY

There are mostly low-end hotels in Gaya, as this town is not more than a stopover. Most of the hotels are located near the railway station. Hotel Siddharth International provides the only top-end accommodation in Gaya.

We offer excellent accommodation facilities in and around Gaya.

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