India is a country having an ample of unique attractions. One of such attraction is Gaya, a beautiful sacred place on the banks of Phalgu river surrounded by rugged rocks on three sides and water on the fourth side. The second largest city of Bihar is that ancient city which has been talked about in Ramayana (where Lord Rama went to Gaya to do pind-daan of his father Dashrath) and Mahabharata. It has also witnessed the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha. Following this, Gaya is a home to the legendary Vishnupad Temple which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu’s Footprint
As the name suggests, the Vishnupad temple is famous for the 40 cm long footprint, having nine symbols including Shankam, Chakram, and Gadham. These are said to symbolize the weapons of Lord Vishnu. Vishnupad, also known as Dharmasila, is engraved on a solid rock and is immured by a silver basin.
The holy place Gaya is named after a demon called Gayasur, who did an amercement and sought a boon that whosoever sees him will get salvation (Moksha). Due to this even after the wrongdoings, people started getting salvation by seeing him. Unable to withstand this and to save humanity, the almighty appeared before him and asked him to go to the world beneath. Lord Vishnu by putting his right foot on the Gayasur’s head sent him to the netherworld imprinting his footprints on the rock which is visible even today. Gayasur adjured him for food, Vishnu then said that he will not die of hunger and whoever will offer him food will get salivated. Hence, this is the reason why people go there to do “Pind-Daan” of their loved ones. It is believed that the day Gayasur doesn’t get his food will be the day of his return to the world.
Architecture of the Vishnupad Temple
The Vishnupad’s Temple is built near the Phalgu river making it even more attractive. Temple is 30 meters in height and has eight embossed pillars that support the pavilion. The shrine is built in an octagonal shape and faces towards east. A 51 kgs golden flag stands on the top of the temple. Akshayabat, The immortal Banyan tree, is the place within where all the final rituals of the departed souls take place.
Gaya is an important city in the Indian history and culture for both Hindu and Buddhist religion. The Vishnupad Temple reveals the existence of God and proves that whenever there is a threat to humankind, God will emerge in disguise to save it.