Gaya is a city in eastern India and the administrative headquarters of Gaya district in the state of Bihar. The city is located on the banks of the River Falgu and in close proximity to famous Buddhist destination of Bodhgaya. The town is of ancient historical significance and finds mention in texts dating back to 600 BC.
Gaya has experienced the rise and fall of many dynasties in the Magadh Region. It was projected to the world by Bimbisara the Fifth of the Sisunaga dynasty who lived and ruled around 519 BC. The area experienced the bliss of Gautam Buddha and Bhagwan Mahavir during the reign of Bimbisara. After a short spell of Nanda dynasty, Gaya and the entire Magadha region came under the Mauryan rule with Ashoka (272 BC – 232 BC) embracing Buddhism. The period of Hindu revivalism commenced with the coming of the Guptas during the 4th and 5th century A.D. Besides, Gaya finds mention in the great epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Gaya is an important place of Hindu tourism for ‘pind-dan’ and sees a huge influx of visitors for the month long ‘Pitra Paksh’ mela annually. Gaya has 54 sites for pind daan including the Brahma Kund, Ram Kund, Uttarmanas, Brahma Sarovar, Rukmani Sarovar, Sita Kund etc. The city has several important heritage sites like the Vishnupad Temple, Mangla Gauri Temple, Pretshila Temple and Ramshila Temple. The Brahmayoni Hill is an important pilgrimage for Buddhists, while the largest mosque in Bihar, the Jama Masjid, is also located in Gaya. The city’s natural heritage includes Pretshila Hill, Muchalinda Lake, to name a few.