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BY Seema Shukla
Surrounded from three sides by small, rocky hills called Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila, and Brahmayoni), with the Phalgu River on its eastern side, Gaya is situated 116 kilometers south of Patna. It is the second-largest populated city in Bihar. Along with a beautiful location the city contains historical significance. Gaya is sanctified in the Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist religions. Gaya is mentioned in the great epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata also. It is believed that Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana came to offer pind-daan for their father, Dasharath. Every year thousands of Hindu devotees come here to offer pind-daan to their relatives and parents. Buddhism followers believe that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment in Gaya (one of the four holy sites of Buddhism). The Mahabodhi temple complex at Bodh Gaya was declared a World Heritage Site.
Gaya has several places to visit like Mahabodhi Temple, Vishnupad temple, Dungeshwari Cave Temple, Barabar Cave,s Bodhi Tree, Chinese temple Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum, Muchalinda Lake, Thai temple and Royal Bhutan Monastery.
Mahabodhi Temple is built to worship Lord Budha however this temple promotes tolerance towards other religions also. This temple is standing on a 48 square feet tall basement, the structure resembles a pyramid but for its cylindrical top. The Chatras were built at the top of the Mahabodhi temple.
Another attraction Vishnupad temple, located on Falgu Riverbanks. This temple is constructed on Lord Vishnu’s footprints. Another place Dungeshwari Cave temples gain spiritual importance as Buddha spent many years here.
Another very important place in Gaya is the Bodhi Tree which is considered sacred by followers of Buddhism as it is believed that Buddha attained spiritual enlightenment under this tree. This tree is situated on the southern side of Mahabodhi temple.
Chinese temple is located near Mahabodhi temple is known as a Chinese temple due to the pure influence of Chinese architecture. It was built by the government of China and Buddhist monks of China in the year 1945. Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum is home to several relics unearthed from this part of the world. Muchalinda Lake located in Gaya is considered a sacred place for followers of Buddhism. It is said that while Buddha was into the sixth week of meditation by the side of Muchalinda Lake, a severe storm struck. Thai temple, the only Thai temple in India is located in Gaya. It is built in the year 1956. Yet another monastery in Gaya, Royal Bhutan Monastery appeals to the followers of Buddhism with its wonderful depictions of the life of Buddha.
Gaya is an amazing place with historical significance and beautiful scenery. Beliefs apart, the place is rich in natural beauty and architectural splendor. The city is under the influence of a couple of religions but the message of tolerance towards other religions is loud and clear. Your visit to Gaya with its rich cultural and scenic beauty will surely leave you with memories to cherish for many years to come.
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