A well-known, well-visited Hindu temple in India and one of the holiest temples for a devote Hindu. Offering Pindam (offering to the ancestors) here is a must to get Moksha or Salvation to the dead. Many gather here to free the soul of their relatives from the cycle of birth and death, throughout the year.
Vishnupad temple is the centre of activity here. Gaya derived its name from a demon called Gayasur. The demon was an ardent devotee of the Lord Vishnu. After having severe penance Lord Vishnu appeared before the demon. To get salvation, the demon requested to the Lord to put his divine foot to his head. The Lord agreed; put his divine foot on the head of the demon and pressed it to the earth. The Vishnupad temple marks the spot of this event. Here, a 40 centimeters long rock imprint of Lord Vishnu’s feet is worshipped as the deity.
The main ritual at Vishnupad temple is Pind daan. It is believed Lord Sri Ram himself came here, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman, to offer Pinda to his father Dasarath.
The ritual starts from the Phalgu river (Niranjana in Ramayan) and ends beneath a banyan tree known as ‘’Akshaya bat” inside the temple. Due to a curse from Sita the Phalgu river remains dry in most of the time; the Akshaya bat is said to be immortal due to a blessing from her. However, it is said, one can easily get water from the river if he digs a little sand.
Though the Pinda dan can be done throughout the year, offering it on eighteen days long Tripaksha Shradha or Pitripaksha mela is considered auspicious. This usually falls in September or October every year. At that time, the temple attracts a huge gathering from all over the World.
Historically, the temple belongs to the Magadha Empire. It received the generous support from the Magadha emperors of the day right from King Bindusara to King Ashoka- the great. The present structure is the contribution of Smt. Ahalya Bai Holkar, the blessed queen of Indore.
Mangala Gowri temple, one of the Shakthi Peethas, where the breast of Goddess Sati fell is nearby. The Bodhgaya, where Gautham Budha became blessed, is fifteen kilometers far.
The Deo, the famous Sun temple, is twenty kilometers away: the Baraber cave of Budhism is forty kilometers from Gaya.
Gaya is a medium sized town, about ninety kilometers from Patna. It is an important rail-head on the Delhi-Kolkata main-line.
Gaya is well- connected with the major cities in the region by road too.
Patna, the state Capital and the nearest major city, is hundred kilometers from Gaya.