Like every year, the streets of Gaya in Bihar are filled with crowds during the Pitrupaksha fair. During this grand annual fair, lakhs of Hindus wish to perform last rites (or pin donation) for their ancestors at the Ghats of Gaya. But, just as the banks of the river Falgu are auspicious for Hindus, the religious places of Bodh Gaya are important for Buddhists. So, there is a lot of history and mythology associated with the ancient city of Gaya and Gaya tourist places. Let us take a sightseeing tour of Gaya today.
If you want to visit or Planning to visit Gaya hire a taxi service in Gaya and go to explore these top 10 places to visit in Gaya or Bodhgaya.
List of Best Places to visit in Gaya and Bodhgaya
- Vishnupad Temple
- Tibetan Monastery
- Bodhi tree
- Gaya Ghat
- Dungeshwari Cave Temple
- The Great Buddha Statue, Bodh Gaya
- Yama Temple in Pretshila Hill
- Mangala Gauri Temple
- Muchalinda Sarovar
Best places to visit in Gaya, Bihar
Situated on the banks of the river Falgu, there is important Hindu mythology associated with this Gaya temple. It is believed that Lord Vishnu killed Gayasur here by placing his left foot on Gayasur’s chest. The footprints of Lord Vishnu are still preserved on a block of basalt within this temple. However, Buddhists also consider this temple auspicious, as they believe that the above footprint is one of Lord Buddha. Thankfully, both religions have respected each other’s faith and the Vishnupad temple has become sacred to both religions.
The Tibetan Monastery is one of the biggest attractions of Bodh Gaya tourism. It is the oldest and largest monastery of Bodh Gaya and houses a large number of ancient Buddhist texts and documents. This Tibetan Monastery is one of the best places to visit in Gaya. Decorating the temple is a statue of Maitreya Buddha. Another attraction of the Tibetan Monastery in Bodh Gaya is the 10-meter high metal drum which is painted in gold and red colors. This object is known as the Dharmachakra or the wheel of law. There is a huge library within the monastery that houses books on various aspects of Buddhism.
It is believed that Lord Buddha attained ‘Nirvana’ under this huge banyan tree in Bodh Gaya. Sacred Buddhist scriptures mention that Lord Buddha meditated under this tree for seven days before attaining enlightenment. Burmese merchants Tapasu and Bhallika also surrendered to Lord Buddha under this tree and became the first female devotees of Buddhism. The tree can be found in front of the Mahabodhi Temple. Over the years, the tree has been visited by many eminent historical figures, Ashoka being the most notable among them. There are many laws to maintain the sanctity of this site and tourists must follow them. It is not allowed to pluck the leaves or its twigs as this tree has deep sentimental and religious values. The tree is continuously guarded by two home guard personnel. If you are planning to visit Gaya then Must go to this place to visit in Gaya, Bihar.
Also read: Top 10 Places to Visit in Patna
Ratnaghara, which literally means ‘Jewel House’ is located on the northwest side of the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya. According to legends, Lord Buddha spent his fourth week at this place. And during this week it is believed that colors were emitted from his body. As a commemoration of this auspicious event, there are many colored flags adorning the Ratnaghar. In present times Ratnaghar has become famous for its huge Buddha statue. There is a new park in this area that houses the tallest Buddha statue in India. The greenery and peace here will surely win your heart.
If you haven’t done ‘Pind-Daan’ then you haven’t gone to Gaya. Pind Daan holds utmost importance in Hindu culture and is performed for the peace and well-being of the ancestors. In the month of Shradh, Gaya is filled with Pind Daan. There are many ghats on the banks of the river Falgu where one can perform this ritual. However, if you don’t want to do ‘pind daan’, you can simply visit one of the many ghats to enjoy the sunset views with a cool breeze. Early Morning is the best time to visit Gaya ghat.
Dungeshwari Cave Temple
It is one of the oldest cave temples in India. This temple is dedicated to Lord Buddha and is situated at a place where he spent six years meditating. The temple is on top of a hill, so one has to walk all the way to reach the temple. The trek takes around 20 minutes if you are a young and fit adult. If you want to skip the trek, there is also an option to hire a ‘palki’.
The Great Buddha Statue, Bodh Gaya
The statue was consecrated by the Fourteenth Dalai Lama on 18 November 1989. The statue is located very close to the Mahabodhi Temple, and can be visited freely from 7:00 am to 12:00 pm and again from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. It was built only for the devotees to propagate Buddhism and to spread the teachings provided by Gautam Buddha.
Yama Temple in Pretshila Hill
At a distance of eight kilometers from Gaya, Pretshila Hill i.e. the hill of ghosts is situated. It is one of the most sacred places in Gaya for Hindus where they come to perform Pind-Daan, a ritual performed for the peace of the soul of a deceased. The temple situated on the top of the hill is dedicated to the prayers of Lord Yama, the god of death according to Hindu mythology.
This temple dates back years, but no one can tell the exact time frame as to when this shrine was built. It is believed that it was built by Rani Ahilyabai Holkar, the queen of Indore.
Mangala Gauri Temple
Mangala Gauri Temple is a temple of high importance to Hindus, as it is mentioned in the most sacred religious texts such as Vayu Purana, Padma Purana, and Agni Purana as well as many other Tantric texts. Mangala Gauri Temple is one of the 18 Maha Shaktipeeths in the country and stands proudly since the 15th century.
The temple is situated atop the Mangalgauri hill and is believed to be a holy place that fulfills the wishes of its devotees. That temple is dedicated to the worship of Sati, the consort of Shiva, the goddess of the Vaishnavas living in Gaya. One of the biggest attractions of this temple is the UPA-Shaktipeeth, which is believed to be a part of the goddess who fell from heaven. Here the goddess is worshiped in breast form, which is a symbol of the mother’s nurturing and love.
Also read: Best Places to visit in Deoghar
Buddha spent the sixth week meditating at this place after attaining awakening. There is a legend associated with it. When Buddha was meditating a severe thunderstorm broke here but he was unmoved. Seeing this, the snake king of the lake called ‘Muchalinda’ came out to protect Buddha with his hood from the rains. This pond in holy Bodh Gaya town derives its name from the snake king of the pond.
How to reach Gaya?
Connecting Gaya with the rest of the country by air is the Gaya Airport or Bodhgaya Airport. The airport is about 10 km away from the city center and is well connected with not only major cities in India but also with international destinations.
One of the best and most cost-effective ways of reaching Gaya is via its well-maintained roads. G.T road connects this holy city with major north Indian cities. A number of state and private operated buses are available at regular. You can book cab service in Gaya and can explore this holp place.
Gaya Railway Station is the main railhead connecting the city of Gaya with all the major Indian cities. The railway station is well linked to destinations like Delhi, Patna, and Ranchi via an extensive rail network.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gaya:
What is special about Gaya?
Gaya is mostly known as the birthplace of Buddhism as Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana at this holy site. Gaya has temples of great beauty and heritage and this makes it one of the most desired. The beautiful city is surrounded by hills on three sides and the flowing Falgu River.
What is the famous dish of Gaya?
The daily food system of Gaya includes marua-ki-roti, pitta, brinjal-bharta, pua bari dal and sattu sukhaota. With high dietary content and nutritious fiber, Ragi is the ingredient of Kali Marua-Ka-Roti.
What is the best time to visit Gaya?
Due to its huge Buddhist followers, tourists and scholars often visit Bodh Gaya irrespective of the season. However, the peak tourism season in Bodh Gaya is between October and March when the temperature is moderate and the weather is pleasant to visit the city’s various attractions.