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Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu (or Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by the Hindu, the Buddhist and the Jain 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 derives its name from the mythological demon Gayasur (which literally means Gaya the demon), demon (asur, a Sanskrit word) and Gaya. Lord Vishnu killed Gayasur, the holy demon by using the pressure of his foot on him. According to hindu mythology 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.
Pilgrimage to Buddha's Holy Sites Dharma Wheel.svg The Four Main Sites Lumbini · Bodh Gaya Sarnath · Kushinagar Four Additional Sites Sravasti · Rajgir Sankissa · Vaishali Other Sites Pataliputra · Gaya · Kosambi Kapilavastu · Devadaha Kesariya · Pava Nalanda · Varanasi Later Sites Sanchi · Mathura Ellora · Ajanta · Vikramshila Ratnagiri · Udayagiri · Lalitgiri Bharhut · Barabar Caves
Gaya is a holy place for buddhism and hindusim. Ghats and temples are lined on 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. Bhumihar Brahmin have been the traditional priests at Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya as Gayawal Pandas and in the adjoining districts like Hazaribagh. 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). 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, Lord Rama came to Gaya along with Sita for pitripaksha (or to perform pindadanam). While Lord Rama had gone to have his bath before offering this pindadanam, his father King Dasharath's hands appeared and a voice spoke to Sita asking her to offer the pindam herself, as the King was very hungry. Moved by this, Sita prepared pindams out of sand, and offered them herself to the hands that appeared to receive them. After some time, Lord Rama came back and started performing the rites. When it was time to give the pindadanam, he was surprised and pained to see his father's not receiving it. Sita then explained what had occurred. She called for the river Falgu, a Brahman standing nearby, cow, and a banyan tree nearby as a witness to this miraculous occurrence. Except for the banyan tree that supported her, rest of them denied her story - Brahman had a greed for more money as offerings, river Falgu in a wish to receive more offerings from Lord Ram, and the cow in awe of the Lord. So, Sita cursed the three liars. Ramayana 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.
Jama Masjid of Gaya is the largest mosque of Bihar. It has been constructioned approx 180 years ago by Royal Family of Muzaffarpur. Thousand of peoples can offer Namaz together. It is a big of centre of Tabligh in Bihar. Now these day this mosque is being shown as a historical place.
Their are many fair organised in Gaya some on the basis of business or some on the basis of extending its culture. Her a fair of animals is organised twice in a year at the bank of river Phalgu just opposite to the Vishnu pad.
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 attained 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.
The town of Gaya, in about 1810 AD, consisted of two parts : one the residence of the priests, which properly was called Gaya ; and the other the residence of lawyers and tradesmen, which was originally called Elahabad, but later on,as developed by a renowned collector “Saheb”- Mr.Thomas Law, it was called Sahebgunj.It is the birthplace of eminent nationalist Bihar Vibhuti Dr Anugrah Narain Sinha;Bihar's first deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister.The last great ruler of Magadha was maharaja of Tekari. 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. His close associate was Vir Keshwar Singh of Parihas. 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. sri Yadunandan (Jadunandan) singh 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. Gaya has also immensely contributed in the Indian Independence Movement. 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, Dr. Rajendra Prasad,Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Nehru and Sri Krishna Sinha. Shri Ishwar Chaudhary was a member of Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Lok Sabha during 1971-79 and 1989-91 representing Gaya constituency of Bihar. A well known social and political worker, he devoted his life for the upliftment of the weaker sections of the society. He took active part in the proceedings of the House, which bear a testimony of his concern for the toiling masses of the country. He served on the Committee on welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. He was also associated with the consultative Committee of the Ministry oœ Labour and Welfare. Shri Ishwar Chaudhary, who was a candidate for election to the Tenth Lok Sabha, fell to an assassin's bullet on 15 May 1991. He was only 52 years old.
Gaya is located at 24.78°N 85.0°E. It has an average elevation of 111 metres (364 ft).
As per 2011 census, Gaya Urban Agglomeration had a population of 470,839. Gaya Urban Agglomeration includes Gaya (Municipal Corporation), Kaler (Out Growth) and Paharpur (Census Town). Gaya Municipal Corporation had a total population of 463,454, out of which 245,764 were males and 217,690 were females. The population below 5 years was 59,015. The sex ratio was 886. The literacy rate for the 7+ population was 85.74 per cent. See also: List of cities in Bihar
City bus, taxis, tongas, auto rickshaw, cycle rickshaws ply across the city and for Bodhgaya.
Regular direct bus services run from Gaya to Patna, Nalanda, Rajgir, Varanasi, Ranchi, Tata (Jamshedpur), Kolkata and Dhanbad. In 2011, A/C Mercedez Benz Luxury services have been introduced by Bihar State Road Transport Corporation for Muzaffarpur, Patna, Motihari, Hazaribagh and Ramgarh. The National Highway 2 Grand Trunk Road from Kolkata to Delhi passes about 30 km from Gaya. This connects Gaya to Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Rourkela, Durgapur, Kolkata (495 km), Varanasi (252 km), Allahabad, Kanpur, Delhi, Amritsar, and to the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. Gaya is connected to Patna (105 km) by NH 83, Nawada, Rajgir (78 km) and Bihar Sharif by NH 82. Plans have been made to construct a four lane road from Gaya to Patna
Main article: Gaya Airport
Situated between Gaya (7 km) and Bodh Gaya (11 km), Gaya International Airport is the only operating international airport in Bihar and Jharkhand. It is 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 Kolkata airport. Gaya Airport is served by Indian Airlines for domestic flights and Sri Lankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka, Drukair, Jet Airways, Thai Airways and Indian Airlines for international flights. Currently, there are domestic operations to New Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi from this airport.
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-chhokha, litti, pittha, pua, marua-ka-roti, bari-dal, sattu-ka-roti, baigan-bharta, sukhaota, kopal ki kofta and also famous chat from tower chowk etc. And do not miss the spices achar made by womens of Gaya.
Gaya has been the origin of several sweet delicacies popular in the whole of Bihar, Jharkhand and the rest of India. Tilkut, Khaja, Kesaria Peda, Lai, Anarsa 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[disambiguation needed] 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" and "Tekari road, Gaya"even in far flung places like Kolkata and Delhi.
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 Bengali sweets, many of 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. Besides this, in Gaya one must try roadside eateries like Aloo-kaChaloo & Chaat. Aloo-Kachaloo is made up of boiled potatoes sprinkled with red chilly powder and jeera powder, salt and tamarind water specially at the place of Batamore. One can easily find such joints outside schools and colleges as it is a 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, aalu chaat, the best shop for these snacks you can prefer to the Pramod Bhandar.
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), chili 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. Bakarkahni and Chai Biscuit are also very famous of Chatta Masjid.
There have been scholars from the city with contributions in the field of education, most of the government-run schools in Gaya (notably Zila School, Haridas Seminary – also knowns as Town School, Theosophical Model School, Gaya High School, Anugrah Kanya Vidayalaya, Mahaveer 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.Nazareth Academy is the oldest one with its roots dating back to the British era and has a legacy of its own. Gyan Niketan NGO Non Government Organization charitable school is a single school in north side of Bodhgaya who provides free education to 200 students surrounded by more than five villages.Creane school has proved to be the best cbse school since last few decades with its outstanding performance in boards as well as extra curricular activities.
The only university at Gaya is Magadh University (largest university of Bihar) located near Bodhgaya established by educationist and the then Education Minister S N Sinha. 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, Gaya College of Engineering (GCE), Jagjivan College, Mahesh Singh Yadav College, Mirza Ghalib College. Gautam Buddha Mahila College (GBM College) is exclusively for women.
OTA Gaya, raised in July 2011, is the third pre-commission training (PCT) academy of the Indian Army with a planned training capacity of 750 cadets. The aim of the academy is to train Gentlemen Cadets to become part of a professionally competent commissioned officer corps of the Indian Army. The academy is located amid an estate of approx 870 acres in a hilly terrain of Paharpur at Gaya. The Academy is located en route from Gaya to Bodhgaya, approx 7 km from Gaya railway station. The international airport of Gaya is adjacent to the Academy. In its vicinity is Bodhgaya, an international tourism destination. Gaya Cantonment dates back to World War II, as one of the headquarters of the British Army.
To mark the commencement of the academy, a flag hoisting ceremony was solemnised and the consecration of the raising of the academy was carried out in true secular tradition of the Indian Army, with recital of scriptures from holy books of different religions. The academy has been equipped with state of the art training facilities, at par with other pre-commissioning training institutions. The insignia of Officers Training Academy, Gaya has a two-colour background, with upper half as grey and the lower half blood-red, having two cross swords superimposed with the Dharmchakra. A scroll below bears the motto of the academy - 'Shaurya, Gyan, Sankalp' in devnagri.
The first batch of 149 trainee-officers underwent training in the academy during the period July 2011 to Jun 2012 and first passing out parade was conducted on 8 Jun 2012. The second batch after successful completion of their training (January 2012 - December 2012) passed out on 8 December 2012. A total of 176 cadets from TES 26 And SCO 29 courses passed out on 8 December 2012. The academy currently has the capacity to train 350 cadets and Lt Gen G S Bisht is the current (and third) commandant of the academy, taking charge in Oct 2012.
Students of Gaya are considered very laborious. In Manpur, there is a place called Patwatoli, where there is a powerloom factory. For many consecutive years, more than 10 students from this place have been qualifying for IITs on the dint of their hard work and there is a rumuor that Patwatoli is going to be named 'ahiyanta vihar' (enginner's place). However, coaching classes like GAIIT classes too have also got some success and several students qualify for IITs every year. There is also a branch of super-30 called' Magadh super-30' which is run under the guidance of DGP of Bihar, Mr. Abhayanand.
Anugraha Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH) is the medical college in Gaya. Gaya Homoeopathic Medical College affiliated to Baba saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University Course offered B.H.M.S located on river side road. Gaya has an Industrial Training Institute(ITI) for vocational education & Govt. Polytechnic College for Diploma Courses located on Bodhgaya Road (River side Road).