100 kms from Patna, Bihar
Mahabodhi Temple, Bodhi Tree, Animesh
Lochana Temple, Archaeological Museum, Vishnupada Temple, Gelupa Monastery,
Kagyu Monastery etc.
Best Time To Visit :
October to March
A World famous pilgrimage destination, Gaya is situated 100 kms south of
Patna, the capital of the Indian state of Bihar. One of the important towns
of Bihar, Gaya also serves as an important transit point for visitors to
Bodhgaya, just 13 kms away. Bodhgaya is a sacred place for Buddhists and
here the Lord Buddha got enlightenment after years of penance. Every year
thousands of pilgrims and common tourists visit Gaya from the country and
all over the world, to visit the sites related to Lord Buddha and Hindu
gods. Gaya has great significance for Hindus, who come here to honour their
parents by offering pind - a gift of funeral cakes. In fact, the greatness
of Gaya has been described in the epics and religious scriptures like the
Mahabharata, Padma, Naradiya, Varaha, Kurma, Garuda and Vayu Puranas.
According to a popular legend a good demon called Gaya, appalled by the
sorrow caused to death, complained to Lord Vishnu and eventually died as a
protest for the world. His act highly impressed Vishnu and he blessed Gaya
with the power to absolve sinners. Like the holy town of Varanasi, Gaya is
said to be a tirtha - a crossing point into the celestial realms. So, visit
the pilgrimage town of Gaya and the nearby Bodhgaya and experience a unique
spiritual feel inside the temple and monasteries.
How to Reach Gaya
By Air :
Gaya has an international airport which is also
the only international airport in Bihar. Gaya airport is connected to
Colombo, Singapore, Bangkok and many other destinations. Indian Airlines
operates bi-weekly Kolkata-Gaya-Bangkok and Kolkata-Gaya-Yangoon flights and
Druk Airlines (Bhutan) operates Paro-Gaya-Bagkok bi-weekly flights. Lok
Nayak Jayaprakash Airport in Patna (120 kms) is another airport close to
Gaya, which has flights for major cities of India.
By Train :
Gaya has its own railhead which is the second
most important railway station after Patna Junction. Gaya is a junction and
it is connected to New Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai through a number of mail
and express trains. From New Delhi, the Mahabodhi Express a direct non-stop
train runs daily to Gaya. A number of other trains also ply to Gaya from
Delhi and the journey duration is 16 hrs.
By Road :
National Highway and State Highways connect
Gaya with rest of Bihar and other parts of the country. Gaya is
well-connected by roads with Patna, Kolkata, Allahabad, Varanasi, Kanpur,
Delhi etc. A number of buses ply between Patna and Gaya at regular
Places Where You Can Stay
Gaya is dotted with a number of hotels and tourists lodge which offer
comfortable accommodation at reasonable rates. Some of the popular hotels of
Gaya include Hotel Lotus NICCO, Hotel Buddha, Hotel Surya, Ajatshatru Hotel,
Buddha International Guest House, Vasundhara Hotel, The Royal Residency,
Hotel Siddhartha Bihar, Amrapali Guest House, Anamika Hotel, Shashi
International, Hotel Tokyo, Hotel Samrat, Hotel Sarkar, Vishnu
International, Delta International etc.
Tourist Attractions in Gaya
Mahabodhi Temple :
Temple is the main attraction of Gaya and it is also an architectural
masterpiece. Of course, the temple is like is other most popular temples in
India, but as you enter inside the temple complex you find an atmosphere of
peace and tranquility. Extensively renovated during the 19th century, the
temple is supposed to be a replica of the 17th century structure that was
standing on the site of Mauryan Emperor Ashoka's original 3rd century
shrine. The imposing single spire of the temple rising to the lofty height
of 55mts and is visible from all over the surrounding countryside. Atop the
temple there are Chhatras which symbolise sovereignty of Buddhism.
On the four corners of the temple four towers rise elegantly giving the
temple a poise and balance. Within the temple complex, which is dotted with
tiny stupas and shrines, the main brick structure of the temple stands in a
hollow flanked by a stone railing dating from 2nd century B.C. Only three
quarters of the railing exists today, the other sections in the museum
located in the complex. Inside the temple a single chamber houses a massive
glided image of the Lord Buddha. Upstairs there is a balcony and a small
plain meditation chamber. Entry to the temple complex is from the east daily
from 6 am to noon and 2 pm to 6.30 pm.
Bodhi Tree :
At the rear side of the temple in the west
direction, the huge Bodhi tree grows out of an expansive base. A historic
tree, the Bodhi tree nowadays attracts the scholars and meditators. It is
believed that Shakyamuni Buddha or Gautama, attained enlightenment some 2500
years ago by sitting under this tree. Original tree was destroyed by Ashoka
before his conversion to the faith, later its offshoots were nurtured at
Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, and a sapling was brought back and replanted
here. Buddhist pilgrims tie coloured thread to its branches, decorated by
prayer flags, while the Tibetans fulfill their rituals by making long lines
of butter lamps.
Animesh Lochana Temple :
Temple is a small white temple located to the right of the compound
entrance. A miniature version of the main temple, Animesh Temple marks the
spot where Lord Buddha stood and gazed upon the Bodhi Tree in gratitude.
Archaeological Museum :
Bodhgaya's Archaeological Museum
has a huge collection of stone sculptures and other valuable artifacts. The
museum is maintained by Arhaeological survey of India and holds a collection
of locally discovered sculpture and also the 19th century Pala bronzes of
Hindu and Buddhist deities. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm,
closed on Fridays, entra is free.
Gelupa Monastery :
The Tibetan monastery is situated
within the Tibetan quarter northwest of the main shrine. Built around four
decades back, the complex has a central prayer hall, a huge prayer wheel and
residential buildings. Every winter, the Tibetans visit Bodhgaya in large
number and set up a small market with restaurants and cafes.
Kagyu Monastery :
Further west there is Kagyu monastery
which is bigger of the two other monasteries and belongs to the Kagyu sect.
The monastery has a spacious main prayer hall which is adorned with
beautiful modern murals, Buddha images, and a huge Dharma Chakra or Wheel of
: Next to the Kagyu monastery is the
Daijokyo monastery, which belongs to the Nichiren sect. Daijokyo monastery
has used the elements of a traditional Japanese temple.
Indosan Nipponji Temple :
Just opposite to the Daijokyo
monastery is the Indosan Nipponji Temple, which has a beautiful hut-like
roof and an elegant statue of Buddha inside.
: Adjacent to Indosan temple is the
Bhutanese Monastery. It has nicely painted murals and ceiling mandalas.
Giant Buddha Statue
: At the end of the road in a
decorative garden lies the 25 m tall Japanese style Giant Buddha statue. It
was consecrated by the Dalai Lama in the year 1989.
Mahabodhi Society Complex :
The Sri Lankan based
Mahabodhi Society have a small complex north-west of the Mahabodhi temple.
The society is responsible for reviving Bodhgaya in the 19th century.
Vishnupada Temple is the main Hindu temple in Gaya and located
on the banks of the Phalgu river. The temple was renovated in the year 1787
by Maharani Ahalya Bai Queen of Indore. Vishnupada Temple has a 30 mtr high
tower. Here devotees worship the lotus footprint of Lord Vishnu and perform
the sraddha ceremony to liberate their ancestors. Close to Vishnupada temple
there are other shrines the presiding deities are Adi Gadadhar, Saksi Gopala
and Krishan Dwarka.
Brahmayoni (Bharmajuni) Hill :
Just one km southwest of
the Vishnupada Temple is the Brahmayoni Temple. You have to climb up 424
high stone steps to get to the top of the hill. From the top of the hill you
get a good view of the city below. Atop the hill there are two caves names
Brahmayoni and Matreyoni, and a temple dedicated to Astabhujadevi.
Ramshila Hill :
Five Km from the Vishnupada Temple is
Ramshila Hill. There is a Sita Rama Laxman Temple and Paleswara Temple atop
the hill. Pinda is offered at Ram Kund.
: Pretshila hill is just 3 kms away from
the Ramshila hill. Below the Pretshila hill is the Brahma Kund, where
devotees take bath and then proceed for Pind Dan. This ritual is performed
for peace of the departed soul of the ancestor. At Pretshila hill there is a
temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu which is popular among the tourist to its
unique architecture and marvellous sculptures.
Surya Kund :
Surya Kund is west of the Vishnu Temple.
Here the festival of Sun God is celebrated in the Hindu months of 'Chaitya'
(March- April) and 'Kartikya' (September - October). A fair is also
organized on these occasions at the Surya Kund.
Buddha Jayanti Festival :
Every year in the month of May
the Buddha Jayanti Festival is celebrated here. Buddha festival marks the
appearance day of Buddha, the day he attained enlightenment and the day he
left his body.
Tourist Attractions Around Gaya
Dungeswari is located at a distance of 12 km
from Bodh Gaya. Lord Buddha meditated here for some time in a cave and came
to conclusion that knowledge could not be gained through mortification of
: Bihar's capital Patna is 120 kms away from Gaya
and home to a number of tourist attractions. Some of the attractions of
Patna are Gol Ghar, Patna Museum, Planetarium, Zoological Garden etc.