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India Bihar locator map.svg
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Location of Gaya
in Bihar and India
Coordinates Template:IndAbbr 24°45′N 85°01′E / 24.75°N 85.01°E / 24.75; 85.01
Country Template:Flag
State Bihar
District(s) Gaya
Divisional Commissioner Shri K.P. Ramaiah
Population 3,473,428 (2001)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Gaya is a city in Bihar, India, and it is also the headquarters of Gaya District.

Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of Falgu River (Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by both the Hindu and the Buddhist religions. It is surrounded by small rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni) by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings and narrow bylanes.

Gaya was a part of the ancient state Magadha. In South Bihar, the most prominent representative of Bhumihar Brahmin was the Tekari Raj family, whose great estate in Gaya dated back to the early eighteenth century.[1]

Importance to Hindu Mythology

File:ChhatPuja Gaya.jpg

Gayasisa or Brahmayoni hill, where Buddha taught the Fire Sutta

Gaya derives its name from the mythological demon Gayasur (which literally means Gaya the holy demon), demon (asur, a Sanskrit word) and Gaya. Over its history dating millennia, the word asur got deleted and the name Gaya remained in currency. Lord Vishnu killed Gayasur, the holy demon by using the pressure of his foot over him. This incident transformed Gayasur into the series of rocky hills that make up the landscape of the Gaya city. Gaya was so holy that he had the power to absolve the sins of those who touched him or looked at him; after his death many people have flocked to Gaya to perform Shraddha sacrifices on his body to absolve the sins of their ancestors. Gods and goddesses had promised to live on Gayasur's body after he died, and the hilltop protuberances of Gaya are surmounted by temples to various gods and goddesses. These hilltop temples at Rama Shila, Mangla Gauri, Shringa Sthan and Brahmayoni are part of the pilgrimage circuit, and grand staircases have been built up to most of them. In VishnuPad Temmple, Guruji Shri Vishnukant Mishra ji is the main "priest" of this temple, Shri Shashikant Mishra is the eldest son of Guruji.

Holy Sites in Gaya

Pilgrimage to
Holy Sites
Dharma Wheel
The Four Main Sites
Lumbini · Bodh Gaya
Sarnath · Kushinagar
Four Additional Sites
Sravasti · Rajgir
Sankissa · Vaishali
Other Sites
Patna · Gaya · Kosambi
Kapilavastu · Devadaha
Kesariya · Pava
Nalanda · Vikramshila · Varanasi
Later Sites
Sanchi · Mathura

Ellora · Ajanta
Ratnagiri · Udayagiri
Bharhut · Barabar Caves

Sacred places in Gaya correspond to physical features, most of which occur naturally. Ghats and temples line the banks of the sacred Falgu River. Trees such as pipal trees and Akshayavat, the undying banyan, are especially sacred. The Mangla Gauri shrine is marked by two rounded stones that symbolize the breasts of the mythological Sati, the first wife of Lord Shiva. The most popular temple today is Vishnupad Temple, a place along the Falgu River, marked by a footprint of Vishnu incised into a block of basalt, that marks the act of Lord Vishnu subduing Gayasur by placing his foot on Gayasur's chest. The gayawal pandaBrahmins have been the traditional priests at Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya as Gayawal Pandas and in the adjoining districts like Hazaribagh.[2] The present day temple was rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in the 18th century. Buddhist tradition regards the footstep in the Vishnupad Temple as a footstep of Buddha (who is regarded as an avatar of Vishnu by Hindus).

Vishnupadh Temple

Vishnupadh Temple

Gaya is significant to Hindus from the point of view of salvation to the souls of ancestors (a ritual called pinda daan). According to Ramayana, when Lord Rama came to Gaya along with Sita for pitripaksha (or to perform pindadanam), Sita cursed the Falgu River following some disobedience on the part of the river. The mythology states that on account of this curse, Falgu River lost its water, and the river is simply a vast stretch of sand dunes. At the same time Sita blessed a banyan tree to be immortal. This tree is known as Akshyavat. Akshyavat is combination of two words Akshya (which never decay) and Vat (Banyan tree). Once a year banyan trees shed leaves, but this particular tree never sheds its leaves which keeps it green even in times of drought.

For Buddhists, Gaya is an important pilgrimage place because it was at Brahmayoni hill that Buddha preached the Fire Sermon (Adittapariyaya Sutta) to a thousand former fire-worshipping ascetics, who all became enlightened while listening to this discourse. At that time, the hill was called Gayasisa.


Bitho Sharif

Bitho Sharif (10 km from main city) situated on Gaya-Patna route, is one of the notable pilgrimage place. The great Sufi saint of Chishtia-Ashrafi order Hazrat Makhdoom Syed Shah Durwesh Ashraf (R.A) settled here in around Ninth Century Hijri and established Khanqah-e-Ashrafia. A large number of Muslims who don't believe God is everywhere and fulfill their wishes without any influence and people from other faith, from all over the Globe visit the Dargah of this great Sufi Saint. Urs of Hz. Mk. Durwesh Ashraf (R.A.) is celebrated every year from 10th-12th of Islamic month of Shabaan.Prof. Syed Shah Shahid Hussain Ashraf is the present Sajjada Nashin of Khanquah Durweshiya Ashrafia Chishtia,Dargah Bitho Sharif.[3]

Baitul Anwar, situated at Gewal Bigha, a famous Khanqah of Ahl-e-Sunnat founded by Shah Noorul Huda; his successor Siraj-e-Millat Allama Sirajul Huda has been a famous religious personality in Bihar.

Shrine of Ata Hussain Fani

Ata Hussain Fani Chishti was a Sufi saint of the Chishti Order and was ordered spiritually by the Prophet Muhammad to arrive here and preach Islam. He arrived in the mid 19th century and settled here. Presently his tomb is situated in the heart of gaya and is visited by believers of all faith.



Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya. The site where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment.


Ancient history

Documented history of Gaya dates back to the enlightenment of Gautam Buddha. About 11 km from Gaya town is Bodh Gaya, the place where Gautam Buddha got enlightenment. Since then the places around Gaya (Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Patliputra) had been the citadel of knowledge for the ancient world. These centers of knowledge further flourished under the rule of dynasties like the Mauryans who ruled from Patliputra (modern Patna) and covered the area beyond the boundaries of the Indian subcontinent. During this period, Gaya was a part of the Magadh region.

Modern History


Great nationalist and leader of Kisan Andolan, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati established an ashram at Neyamatpur, Gaya (Bihar) which later became the centre of freedom struggle in Bihar. All the prominent leaders of Indian National Congress visited there frequently to meet Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, the leader of Kisan Andolan who resided in the ashram set up by Swamiji. Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma became the undisputed leader of peasants in the Gaya district and second in command to the legendary freedom fighter and peasant leader Swami Sahajanand Saraswati.[4] Gaya has also immensely contributed in the Indian Independence Movement. It has also been a place of the Gandhian leader Bihar Bibhuti[5] Dr.Anugrah Narayan Sinha.

During the independence movement, the All India session of the Congress was held under the presidency of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das in 1922, which was attended by great illumanaries and prominent leaders of the Indian Independence Movement, such as Mahatma Gandhi, Rajendra Prasad,[5] Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Nehru and Sri Krishna Sinha.


Gaya is located at 24°47′N 85°00′E / 24.78°N 85.0°E / 24.78; 85.0.[6] It has an average elevation of 111 metres (364 ft).


As of 2001 India census,[7] Gaya (district) had a population of 3,473,428. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Gaya has an average literacy rate of 68%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 74%, and female literacy is 60%. In Gaya, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.


Gaya is well connected to the rest of India and the world by roadways, railways and airways.


The Grand Trunk Road (NH-2, which has undergone a revival under The Golden Quadrilateral project) is about 30 km. from Gaya city. Thus, Gaya is well connected to Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Rourkela, Hazaribag, Kolkata, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Delhi, Amritsar, and to the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. The highway connecting Gaya to Patna, Gaya to Nawada, Rajgir and Bihar Sharif are well maintained.


Gaya is the second most important station in Bihar after Patna. It is a junction and is connected to the all the four metropolis New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai through Important Broad Gauge Routes (direct trains). Now it is also directly connected to Guwahati (N-E India) and Chennai including the Grand Chord line. There is a direct non-stop train, the Mahabodhi Express from New Delhi to Gaya daily. It takes around 15 hours to reach Gaya from New Delhi by train.

It has been announced in the 2009-2010 Railway Budget that Gaya Jn would be developed as a World Class Railway Station in Public Private Partnership mode along with 49 other stations throughout the nation.[8] As a matter of fact Gaya Jn was also included in the list of 22 stations across the country to be developed as World Class along with Patna Jn during the tenure of Lalu Prasad as the Railway minister but nothing significant occurred in this regard. Also it has not even developed as a Model station till date in spite of its announcement since a decade.

There are direct trains from Gaya to other important stations in India like Ranchi, Bokaro, Varanasi, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Agra, Mathura, Jabalpur, Bhopal, Indore, Nagpur, Puri, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Amritsar, Dehradun, Kalka, Jammu, Gwalior, etc. There are also two broad gauge train lines from Gaya, one to Patna and the other to Kiul.


Gaya Airport is the only international airport in Bihar and Jharkhand taken together. It is an international airport connected to Colombo, Sri Lanka through two airline operators; Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore, and Paro, Bhutan. It is said to be being developed as a stand-by to the Calcutta airport. Gaya Airport is served by Indian Airlines for domestic flights and Sri Lankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka, Drukair jet airways and Indian Airlines for international flights. Thai Airways flies non stop between Bangkok and Gaya. The distance of gaya airport to National Heritage site "Bodh-Gaya" is about 5 Kilometers. There should be direct flight from Gaya to Delhi and Mumbai.


There are several good hotels in Gaya and Bodhgaya ranging from star hotels to budget accommodation. Hotel Royal Residency, Taj Durbar, Siddhartha International, Asoka, Sujata, Lotus Nikko, Tathagat International, Welcome Guest House,, Buddha International, Royal Surya, Taj Heritage, Ajat Satru, Heritage Inn, Gharana etc. are good hotels to stay in.


The staple food of Gaya is common to the rest of Bihar and Jharkhand. The other special preparations found in Gaya are typically traditional Bihari food. The most popular of them include sattu, litti, pittha, pua, marua-ka-roti, bari-dal, sattu-ka-roti, baigan-bharta, sukhaota, etc.


Gaya has been the origin of several sweet delicacies popular in the whole of Bihar, Jharkhand and the rest of India. Tilkut, Kesaria Peda, Lai, Inarsa of Ramana road and tekari road are the most popular sweets that bear the trademark of Gaya.

Tilkut being the most popular of them is prepared using til or sesame seeds (Sesamum Indicum) and jaggery or sugar. It is a seasonal (winter) sweet and only the karigars (workers) from Gaya are believed to impart the real taste of Tilkut. One can find Tilkuts carrying the label "Ramna, Gaya" even in far flung places like Kolkata and Delhi. Ramna and Tekari Road are the areas in the city where every other house is a Tilkut factory.

Kesaria peda is yet another delicious sweet prepared from khoya (solid milk cream) and kesar (saffron). The Chowk area of the city specializes in Kesaria Peda production.

There are several varieties of Lai available in Bihar, including Lai from Gaya. The main component of this Lai is Ram dana seeds. These ram danas are processed and mixed with koya and sugar to give rise to a disk shaped sweet.

Anarsa is also based on khoya, but is deep fried and processed with sugar. Anarsa comes in two shapes 'thin disk' and 'spherical'. The sweet is finally embedded with til (sesame) toppings.

These sweets are dry and hence easily packagable, preserved, and transported, unlike the Bengali sweets which are soaked in sugar syrups. There is a tradition among the residents to gift the visitors with these sweets when they depart, as a token of love.

Beside this in Gaya one should must try roadside eateries like Aloo ka Chaloo & Chaat. Aloo ka Chaloo is made up of boiled potatoes sprinkled with red chilly powder and jeera powder, salt and tamarind water. One can easily find such joints outside schools and colleges as it is favourite of kids and teenagers.


The people of Gaya are fond of spicy-sour traditional snacks. There are certain snacks that are found only in Gaya. The most popular among them are Samosa Chat, Alu-Kachalu and Sabudana-Badam Bhoonja.

Sabudana-Badam Bhoonja is a dry snack that is unique to the Gaya city. It is a mixture of fried sabudana (sago) and fried badam (groundnut or moongfali is called badam or sometime chiniya-badam in Bihar) along with salt (both white and black), chilly powder and jeera (cumin seeds) powder. The mobile bhoonja vendors shouting humorous slogans can be found in every bylane of the Gaya city during the twilight hours. Chanajor garam is one of the most spicy snacks made up of black gram and traditional(typical)masala,being served with lemon juice and typical powder.

Chinese Foods are also becoming popular here now.



Map of Gaya.

Most of the government-run schools in Gaya (notably Zila School, Haridas Seminary - also known as Town School, Theosophical Model School, Gaya High School, Anugrah Kanya Vidayalaya, Mahaveer School, Qasmi High School and Hadi Hashmi School, Government Girls High School) are affiliated to Bihar School Examination Board. There are two Central Schools (Kendriya Vidyalaya) affiliated with the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, New Delhi. Most of the private schools are affiliated to ICSE and CBSE boards. The major ones being Banshi Dhar Shishu Niketan,Shatabdi High School,Creane Memorial High School, Nazareth Academy, D.A.V Public School Medical Road, Gyan Bharti Public school, D.A.V Public School Cantonment Area, Shatabdi Public School (Katari Hill Road), Greenfield Public School, Sir Syed Memorial School Bhadeya, Elegant Public School, Iqra Public School (Nagmatia),MDA Public School (Bitho Sharif) and many more. Nazareth Academy is one of the oldest schools, which is managed by a US based congregation called 'Sisters of Charity of Nazareth'. The government-run public schools lack many facilities, but are the only options for the poor who cannot afford the fees in private schools.Gyan Niketan school is a single school in north side of Bodhgaya who provides free education to 200 students surrounded by more than five villages.

The only university at Gaya is Magadh University established by eminent educationist and then Education Minister.[9] Late Satyendra Narayan Singh in 1962,located near Bodhgaya. Gaya has several colleges with graduate and post-graduate courses offered in sciences, arts, commerce, management and Computer Applications. The well known ones include Gaya College (NAAC accredited with Grade-A), Anugrah Memorial College, Jagjivan College, Mirza Ghalib College. Gautam Buddha Mahila College (GBM College) is exclusively meant for women.

Anugraha Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH)[10] is the medical college in Gaya. Gaya has an Industrial Training Institute for vocational education located on Bodhgaya Road

Eminent Persons

Kavi Viyogi,Sanjay Sahay,Nargish Dutt,Nirja Guleri,and Anubha Sahay.


  1. Yang, Anand A. (1999). Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar. University of California Press. pp. 305 (at page 139). ISBN 978-0520211001. 
  2. Saraswati, Swami Sahajanand ( bhumihar brahmin) (2003). Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Rachnawali in Six volumes (in Volume 1). Delhi: Prakashan Sansthan. pp. 519 (Volume 1). ISBN 81-7714-097-3. 
  4. Das, Arvind Narayan (1982). Agrarian Movements in India: Studies on 20th Century Bihar. Routledge. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kamat. "Great freedom Fighters". Kamat's archive. Retrieved 2006-02-25. 
  6. Falling Rain Genomics, Inc - Gaya
  7. "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India. Archived from the original on 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-11-01. 
  8. "World Class Stations". Indian Railways. Retrieved 2009-07-03. 
  9. "Education Minister,Bihar". Central Advisory Board of Education. Retrieved 2007-07-10. 
  10. "Seat increased in ANMMCH, Gaya". The times of India. Retrieved 2007-05-27. 

External links


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