Gaya – Vishnupad Mandir
Name of the Temple
Period of origin
Before 4th Century
Name of deity
Moolavar: Vishnu and Rama
According to the legend, there was once an Asura named Gayasuran, who was a great devotee of Vishnu. When the Devas couldn’t bear the trouble he caused any more, they went to Vishnu and asked for a way out. Vishnu approached Gayasuran and told him that He wanted to perform a special yagna, and wanted a special place to perform it. Gayasuran offered his heart, and Vishnu accepted. The yagna began, and soon, the fumes and the heat became unbearable, and Gayasuran started succumbing to it. Vishnu asked him for his final wish, and Gayasuran asked that the place he died would be immortalized by his name, and hence the name ‘Gaya’.
The next legend concerns the Falguni river. There is never much water in the river at Gaya, though apparently, there is water upstream as well as downstream. It is clear that there is water under the ground, because, even as one digs into the ground with ones fingers, water appears. This is apparently because of a curse on the river. The story goes that Rama, along with his brothers and Sita, came to Gaya to perform the sacred rites for his father, Dasaratha. When the brothers were bathing in the river, Sita was sitting on the banks, playing with the sand. Suddenly, Dasaratha appeared out of the sand, and asked for the Pindam, saying he was hungry. Sita asked him to wait till his sons returned, so that she could give him the traditional Pindam of rice and tilam. He refused to wait, asking her to give him pindams made of the sand in her hand. Having no other option, she gave him the Pindam he desired with five witnesses – the Akshaya Vatam, the Falguni River, a cow, a Tulsi plant and a Brahmin. Soon, Rama returned and started the rituals. In those days apparently, the ancestors would arrive in person to collect their share, and when Dasaratha did not appear, they wondered why. Sita then told them what had happened, but Rama could not believe that his father would accept pindams made of sand. Sita now mentioned her witnesses, and asked them to tell Rama the truth. Among the five, only the Akshaya Vatam took her side and told the truth, while the others lied, trying to take Rama’s side. In her anger, Sita cursed all of them thus: the Falguni river henceforth would have no water at Gaya; the Cow would no longer be worshipped from the front as all others are- only its backside would be worshipped; there would be no more Tulsi plants at Gaya and the Gaya Brahmins would never be satisfied, they would always be hungry and crave more and more. She then blessed the Akshaya Vatam saying that all who came to Gaya would perform the Pinda pradaanam at the Akshaya Vatam too.
Pinda Pradanam at Gaya:
Normal Tarpanam is followed by Pinda Pradhanam for Three generations, on the paternal side and the maternal side. This accounts for 12 Pindas(Six on the paternal side, six on the maternal side), One can also offer Pindas for Self, irrespective of the fact whether they have children or not this is called Atma Pinda and is sanctioned by the Sastra. Pindas are also offered to those who died in Accidents (normal Samskaras are not allowed for these people at the time if Death) and who died at a young age (Akaala Mritu) and while Pregnancy, those who expired without issues or without relatives, and Bootha Pinda for animals also offered. Totally 32. After the Tarpanam completed The Pindas are left at the Tree in the Vishnu Pada temple (For Brahmins) For others the Pindas are to be left in the Phalguni River.The Pavithra is to be discarded at the Tree in the Temple.
The ritual of offering pindas or offerings to the dead has been long associated with Gaya and has been mentioned in the epics. (Vaayupuraana). Terra-cotta seals discovered at Vaishali dating back to the Gupta period (4th to the 5th century CE) place the existence of this temple even during that period. This structure and the brick structure built following its demise do not exist today. What is seen now is a relatively modern temple, built by Queen Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore in 1783.
This temple faces the East and it is octagonal in plan with its tower reaching a height of 100 feet. The temple is built of gray granite blocks joined with iron clamps. The sides of the octagons of the pyramidal tower, are alternately plain and indented – each angle while reaching the pyramidal roof, culminating in a series of peaks, one above the other until they all merge in a single tall pinnacle, crossed by the lotus shaped Amalaka and the golden Kalasha.
In front of the shrine is the spacious Sabha Mandapa – or an open pillared hall. It is a double height space accessed by galleries all around. This hall has 42 pillars disposed in two stories. Over the central portion is a graceful dome, 80 feet high formed by overlapping of stones. The pillars contain various artistically executed motifs. The beautiful style of this temple, with its impressive Sabha Mandap represents the Indian architectural glory of a comparatively recent date.
Temples of Gadhadhara (1040 CE), Narasimha, Gayeswari (1459) are some of the ancient temples in the complex. The shrines, cells and courtyards around the temple contain hundreds of beautiful stone images mostly belonging to the Pala and Sena Periods. (800-1300 CE). Ramanujacharya and Madhvacharya – the great Vaishnava religious leaders, Vallabacharya, Sankaradeva of Assam, Raja Mansingh of Akbar’s court and Swami Vivekananda have visited this temple.
Road Distance or driving distance from Gaya Railway Station to Vishnupad Temple is 5 kms
Monday – Friday: 6.30 AM – 7.30 PM, Saturday: 6.30 AM – 7.30 PM, Sunday: 6.30 AM – 7.30 PM, Public Holidays: 6.30 AM – 7.30 PM
Temple Telephone Number:
+91 88 73 22 22 86.
Nattukkotai Nagara Satram,
Phone; 0631 2226480
Siddharth Vihar, Bodhgaya, Gaya-824231
Phone: 0631-2200445, 2200127.
Rooms available: AC Rooms, Non-AC Rooms
Sujata Vihar, Bodhgaya, Gaya-824231
Rooms available: Dormitory Beds available only
Buddha Vihar, Bodhgaya, Gaya-824231.
Phone: 0631-2200445, 2200127.
Facility Available: Restaurant, CTV, Conference Hall, Coach/Car Parking.
Rooms available: Dormitory Beds and Conference Hall is available.