Gaya is a sacred town in the north Indian state of Bihar that has ancient, historical and mythological importance for three foremost religions of the world – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. A globally-renowned tourist attraction, it’s located on the banks of the Phalgu River or Niranjana and has a number of age-old buildings and slender bylanes that exist amid natural surroundings.
Small rocky hills exist on three sides of the town while the eastern side has a river flowing through it. Gaya is considered the most significant Buddhist pilgrimage in the world, for it’s the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree. A sprawling Mahabodhi Temple complex is built on precisely the same spot where the Lord had sat for years to enter into concentrated mediation.
For Hindus, Gaya is equally scared place and in fact, the naming of the town relates to the killing of the demon Gayasur by the hand of Lord Vishnu. More so, legends relate to the arrival of Lord Ram, accompanied with Sita, here to perform Pindadanam and pay homage to his ancestors. Ghats and temples are in galore lining on the banks of the holy Phalgu River.
Gaya has many Jain temples, and the popular pilgrimage site of Parasnath hill exists in the town. As per Jain religious scriptures, this site holds utmost importance for being a place where 22 out of 24 Jain Tirthankars attained salvation. Each year, a big number of Jains visit the hill to pay respect to their Gods. Many Jain followers get the flights here to reach Pawapuri to reach the place where Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana.
The fame of Gaya is so widespread and massive to draw tourists from the world over. All the attractions here have religious connections that gave the town a legendary status. Some of places to not miss here include Vishnupad Temple, Akshayabat, Barabar Caves, Mahabodhi Temple, Surya Kund and Pretshila Hill. In overall, Gaya is a cherished town in true sense and you must visit it to feel the highs of spirituality!