The religious disposition of Gaya makes it an extraordinary city. Legend has it that a demon named Gaya was killed by Lord Vishnu who pressed him down with his foot. Gaya has a spiritual identity very distinct from neighbouring Bodh Gaya.
The deeper you dig, the more Gaya amazes you. So, here we are with a list of 28 lesser-known facts about Gaya that will certainly tickle your imagination and grow your interest in this historic town.
1. Gaya is the city where Lord Rama came to offer Pind Daan for his father.
For millions of years, Indians have followed in the footsteps of Lord Rama. They come to Gaya to offer Pind Daan for their ancestors. According to the popular ritual, Pind Daan is made in order to rid the soul of a person from materialistic and human attachments it makes while still in possession of a body.
2. A Pind Daan done at Gaya on Panchakroshi Gayakshetra is believed to guarantee a safe passage for the souls of twelve generations.
3. Mangla Gauri Temple in Gaya is perhaps the only temple to have a bank for beggars. They call it the “Mangla Bank.”
The famous Mangal Gauri Temple in Gaya has always been popular for the idol of Goddess Durga seen in her pacifying avatar, but now people also come here to see the beggars’ bank, started by a group of 40 beggars.
4. Gaya has its own classical music gharana known as “Gaya Gharana” that still exists.
The Magadh Mahotsava is held every year in its commemoration and to preserve this age-old house of culture and music. In a music festival in Gaya you can expect the biggest stalwarts of classical music to be present.
5. Sanjay Dutt’s maternal grandmother Jaddan Bai was one of the most respected names in classical music in Gaya.
6. Bunkaron is a village near Gaya from where India gets at least ten candidates who clear IIT entrance exams every year.
And to think they study for this entrance exam in the din of 10,000 power looms working at the same time. Amazing!!
7. When in Gaya you just cannot miss the statue of Vishal Buddha towering down on you from eighty feet above.
The lengths to which man goes to prove his faith to other fellow humans is just amazing.
8. Close to Gaya is the village of Uruvela, where Gautam Buddha had practiced sever penance to attain nirvana.
9. Gaya has been visited by foreigners since 11th century.
Acharya Dharmakriti came all the way from Sumatra to Gaya and Fa Hien came all the way from China.
10. According to mythology, Gaya is believed to be the navel of the earth.
The Diamond Throne or the Vajrasaa was built by Ashoka in the 3rd century here.
11. Famous sweets Kesaripeda, Tilkut and Lai have all originated in Gaya.
Besides the sweets, Gaya is a heaven for people who love street food. You will find the best chanajorgaramaand bakarkhani roti here.
12. Phalgu river, which flows through Gaya, was cursed by Sita to run dry and run below the bed at all times.
Legend has it that river Phalgu had betrayed the trust of Sita, when the river refused to acknowledge that she had already made the Pind Daan in the absence of Rama and pacified his ancestors. Raged by the river’s disloyalty, she cursed it to remain below the ground for all the time.
13. Mythology says Gaya was founded by Lord Vishnu when he stabbed the demon Gaya Sur.
The God’s footprints are found on a slab of stone, which is preserved in the Vishnupad Temple dating back to 1780. The foot print is covered with red sandalwood paste every night.
14. Only in the Gadadhar Vishnu temple in Gaya you will see a deity of Vishnu in black holding a mace.
It is also one of the rare statues of Lord Vishnu with four arms.
15. The tree in the compound of Vishnupad temple was blessed by Sita to stay green forever.
The tree does not shed leaves in any season.
16. To get absolved of their sins, thousands of Hindus take a holy dip in the waters of the Kund at the western end of the Vishnupad temple.
17. Sujata Sthan or Durgeshwari temple in Gaya is the place where Buddha rested under a tree and accepted food from a condemned woman.
This small incident was instrumental, for him to realize the middle path. He realized that neither too much self-indulgence nor too much self-mortification is required. What you need to adopt for a happy life is the middle path.
18. Besides Hindus and Buddhists, Gaya is also important for Jain pilgrims, who believe that at Parasnath hill 22 Jain Tirthankars attained salvation.
It is one of the most sacred places for Jains.