Bihar Vishnupad Temple Gaya
Nestled along the banks of the river Falgu, the Vishnupada temple is only 3 km away from the city of Gaya. Built in Shikara style the temple has a tower that is held by 8 rows of ornate silver pillars. The golden dome and the flag mast that stands tall at a height of eight ft enhances its beauty. The lotus feet of Lord Vishnu imprinted on rock, which is 48 inches in diameter is the main attraction of this holy temple. This 16th century temple, which was renovated by Rani Ahalya Bai of Indore is one of the holy thirths for Hindus.
This massive temple, which stands in the middle of the old town is thought to have been built over the footprints of Lord Vishnu. Constructed in 1787 by Queen Ahilya Bai of Indore, this temple does not allow non Hindus to enter the temple.
Devotees perform the last rites of their forefathers at the Akshaya vat, or the immortal banyan tree, where Buddha is thought to have meditated before he attained enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Vishnupada Temple is one of the most sacred Hindu shrines that every Hindu must visit atleast once in a life time to ensure their salvation. There are many smaller shrines including a Narasimha temple within the Vishnupad Temple. In the eastern side of the courtyard, the deity of Shiva in the form of Phalgwisvara resides.
The nearby Brahmajuni Hill that can be reached by a flight of 1000 stone steps is another must see spot. The panoramic views from the top of the hill are simply marvelous.
Though the date of construction of the temple is not clear, there are evidences to prove that the temple had been visited by Rama and Sita.
Legends say that the demon Gayasura, sought a boon that anyone who meets him will attain salvation. Lord Vishnu who was not very happy about this turn of events, pushed the demon underground by placing his right foot on his head. Even after pushing Gayasurya, Lord Vishnu’s foot print remained on the rock, which can be seen even today. The lotus foot print has all the Nine symbols including shankam, Chakram and Gadham, which are his weapons. When gayasurya requested for food, Lord Vishnu promised that he will get food everyday when some devotees will feed him.
How to Reach
The closest airport at Patna takes four hours to reach.
Many trains plying from Delhi and Kolkata passes through Gaya. There are also many direct trains to various important places like Varanasi, Puri, and Patna. It is recommended to book the tickets early as the buses could get over crowded.
There are regular bus services that connect Gaya with the other cities like Patna and Ranchi.
A temple dedicated to the Sun God of Surya, at DEO, which is only 20 km from the temple is a popular pilgrimage centre. The Chhath Puja in November attracts massive crowds from far and wide.
The impressive collection of this museum includes sculptures, paintings, terracotta items and manuscripts.
Significance of The Temple
An ancient Tantrik temple complex with many smaller temples, Vishnupada temple is one of the most visited temples in Bihar. It is famous for the legendary "Immortal Banyan Tree" called the Akshayabat. There is a small Narsimha Temple inside the courtyard. With intricate carved doors The eastern side of the courtyard is dedicated to Lord Shiva, represented in the form of Phalgwisvara, the lord of the river Phalgu on the bank of which the Temple is situated.
The temple stands out for its interesting sculptures, carvings and stone artifacts, most of which dates back to the pala period of 9-1 century. There are many interesting manifestations like the Shiva / Sakti who has her foot on a snake, the reclining woman with child and many others.
- There are many convenient places of stay near the temple that range from luxury hotels to budget accommodation options like lodges and resorts to suit every wallet.