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While touring in Gaya the most attractive destination is Vishnupad Mandir Gaya. This temple is the one of most attractive parts of Bihar. Large number of devotees come here everyday to offer prayer and seek blessings. Vishnupad Mandir Gaya is located in Gaya which is 100 km away from Patna, the capital of Bihar.
Gaya was historically a part of ancient Magadh Empire. Whole of the city is located along the river Phalgu. Gaya is considered to be the sacred cities according to Hindu Mythology. The shrine of Mangla Gauri, who is believed to be the first wife of Lord Shiva is worshiped here. The two rounded stones that symbolize the breasts of the mythological Sati have been considered sacred among Hindus. The most attractive destination in Gaya is Vishnupad Temple.
Vishnupad Mandir Gaya is located on the bank of river Falgu River and has footprint of Vishnu incised into a block of basalt. People believe that Lord Vishnu killed Gayasur by placing his foot on Gayasur’s chest.
The old temple of Vishnupad was later renovated by the queen of Indore, Devi Ahilyabai in eighteenth century. While Hindus claim that footprints in Vishunpad temple are of Lord Vishnu, Buddhists consider them the footprints of Lord Buddha. The temple is nevertheless a major pilgrim destination. The name of Gaya is based on the myth of demon Gayasur who Lord Vishnu had killed in a dual.
The place is so sacred for Hindus that even Lord Ram had performed Pindadanam here for his ancestors. Legend says that Lord Ram had come to Gaya to pay homage to his ancestors and Sita had accompanied him on his way. Gaya is equally important for Buddhists as this was the place where Lord Buddha preached the Fire Sermon i.e. Adittapariyaya Sutta to around 1000 agriculture workers who were fire-worshipers. The influence of Buddha’s discourse was so enormous that all of them converted to Buddhism.
Vishnupad Mandir History
- Legends say that the date of construction of Vishnupad Mandir Gaya is unknown. It is believed that Lord Rama along with Sita Mata visited this place.
- The present building of the temple was built by the ruler of Indore, Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar in 1787. The temple was built on the banks of the river Falgu.
- On the southwest of the Vishnupad Temple there is a Brahmajuni Hills which is built above 1000 stone steps. There are many other small temples near.
- It is believed that once a demon named Gayasur committed a penance. It was said that whoever see him would get salvation. And as it is known that salvation is attained if a person does something right in his life, everyone started attaining it easily.
- To prevent bad people, Lord Vishnu asked Gayasur to go beneath the earth’s surface. Lord Vishnu himself sent Gayasur beneath the earth’s surface by keeping his right foot and pressing him under the earth surface.
- While pushing Gayasur beneath the surface, Lord Vishnu’s footprint remained on the surface. This footprint is still visible and we can see it. This footprint has nine different signs symbols including Shankam, Chakram and Gadham. These symbols are believed to be Lord Vishnu’s weapons.
- After being pushed beneath the earth’s surface, gayasur started pleading for food. That day Lord Vishnu said that everyday there will be someone who will feed him food and whoever will feed him will be sent to heaven. It is believed that if Gayasur does not get food, he comes out.
- It is also said that Lord Buddha meditated here for 6 years.
Significance of Vishnupad Mandir
- Vishnupad Mandir Gaya has the footprint of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that this footprint happened when Lord Vishnu kept his right food on the chest of the demon.
- The footprint which we can see inside is around 40 cm long surrounded by silver plated basin.
- The height of the temple is 30 meter and has 8 rows of beautifully carved pillars. These pillars supports the pavillion.
- Vishnupad Mandir Gaya is built with large gray granite blocks which are joined with iron clamps.
- The octagonal shrine of Vishnupad Temple faces east. The pyramidal tower of the shrine is 100 meters tall. There is a slope in the temple with alternately indented and plain sections. All these plain sections are set at an angle to create a series of peaks at the top, joined.
- There is an immortal banyan tree where the final rituals for the dead are done. This banyan tree is named Akshayabat.
- There is a gold flag and couple of kalash at the top of the Temple which always glitter. it is said that two thieves once tried to steal them, but one thief became stone at the temple and the other became stone and fell on the ground. These stones are not in the shape of humans, but a flat stone. These stones are kept for public view.
Vishnupad Mandir Timings
- Vishnupad Mandir Gaya is open every day. The darshan timings are from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm.
- Vishnupad Mandir Gaya does not remains close on public holiday. Even on public holiday the timing for darshan is from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm.
How to reach – Road, Rail and Air
- By Rail– The Vishnupad Temple is located 3 km south of Railway Station.
- By Air– It takes around 17 mins from cab or taxi to reach Vishnupad Temple. The nearest airport is 7 kms away from Vishnupad Temple. Patna airport is around 135 km away from Vishnupad Temple.
- By Road– This temple is well connected by road to many places like Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Patna, Varanasi, Calcutta.
Hotels in Gaya
There are many places to stay in Gaya, Bihar. Gaya has large number of tourist attraction so there are plenty of places to stay while touring in Gaya. There are many hotels as well as private organization which takes good care of the people. There are 5 star hotels as well as hotels with nominal charges according to the traveller’s budget. The charges of the hotels are very nominal as they keep the needs and demands of the customers in their mind. These hotels provide wifi, hygienic food and clean environment.
Places to eat in Gaya
There are many restaurant in Gaya. Being a tourist attraction place, this city has large number of restaurants as well as cafes. Everyday there are large number of tourist and devotees come here so there are large number of places where one can eat. There are places like Multicuisine Restaurant, hari Om Cafe, Khushi Family Restaurant, Siam thai and many more.
- Sankata Maaka Mandir– Gaya is a great destination to visit with your dear ones. This temple is a greatest tourist attraction of Gaya. This place gives iner peace and relaxes one’s mind and body. This places helps in making many great memories. Gaya is place to visit after a busy weekday.
- Mangala Gauri Temple– This temple is dedicated to Maa Mangala Gauri. Maa Mangala gauri is a benevolent incarnation of Shakti. This temple was built in 15th century. This temple has been mentioned in the Puranas and Tantric texts. It is said after Lord Shiva’s tandav and Sati’s self immolation, her breasts fell in this place after a temple was made named Maa Gauri Temple. It is located at the top f the Mangalagauri Hills. This temple has some ancient carving and architecture.
- Pretshila Hills– Pretshila is a sacred place for Hindus. Pindas has been offered here for the ancestors here by many devotees. According to the Hindu mythology, God Yama resides on the summit of the hill. This hill also known as Rock of Ghosts, was earlier used for spirit worship but was later transformed into ancestral worship. After this two shrines were added, Pretabhairavi and Vishnu.
- Gaya– This is the important city in Bihar. Gaya is the second largest city after Patna. This place is known for the land of Vishnu and Buddhism.
- Phalgu River Ghats– The name Phalgu is derived from two words, Phala meaning merit and Gau meaning wishgiving cow. This place is used for performing ancestral rites. Two streams called Lilajan and Mohana, originates from Korambe Pahar which is a high hill about 75 km south of Gaya, meet about 5 km south of Gaya. Lilajan is also the old name of Niranjana, a river in which the Buddha bathed and finally released his begging bowl.
Places to visit in Gaya
- Tibetan Refugee Market– Gaya is a city which is dominated by Buddhists. Tibetan Refugee Market is place where you can buy lots of junk jewellery, bags and clothes. This is a very good market and all the product has reasonable price. There are also books which helps in knowing the history and culture of the Buddhist community very well. This is a very colorful market and one can easily spend few hours shopping here. One can even buy Lord Buddha’s statue made of sandalwood or metal with various poses and moods. One can every buy handicraft items. This market has open-bazaar system.
- Dhamma Bodhgaya International Vipassana Meditation Centre– If you really want to attain Nirvana, you should definitely visit Dhamma Bodhgaya International Vipassana Meditation Centre. One of the most popular Vipassana centres in Bodh Gaya is Dhamma Yoga which is a favourite centre all across India. You’ll find courses on their website which are offered at not only Bodh Gaya but in cities across the country. Courses here are usually of 10 days long, with some special one lasting for upto 20 days. All the courses begins in evening for the first day and ends on the morning of the next. There is a strict code of discipline which one must follow, so make sure you understand these rules before applying. You’ll need to take a form from their website and check for availability and course schedules to be a part of their Vipassana camps. Spread across 18 acres, the campus has basic accommodation options for those participating in the camp. Surrounded by fruit trees and vegetable gardens, just being here will be your path to nirvana!
- International Meditation Centre– If nirvana is what you’re seeking, there’s no better place than Buddha’s land here in Bodh Gaya. Head to the International Meditation Centre to learn and participate in Vipassana Meditation, one of the most sophisticated forms of Yoga. This centre trains people by trained professionals. This centre is a very good place where one can meet other yoga enthusiats. The camps help by this centre helps in throwing away stress. You can join and complete a course of any duration that you please, at any time of the year. Run mostly on donations since 1970, the prices here are pretty affordable.