Vishnupad Temple, Gaya

Where lord Vishnu is worshipped

Inside the 'garbha' of Vishnupad temple, Gaya, Bihar

The ancient Vishnupada Temple is located in Gaya, India. It is a Hindu temple, in which Lord Vishnu is worshipped. Dharmasila, the footprint of Lord Vishnu etched into a slab of basalt, marks the location of this temple, which is located beside the Falgu River. According to history, the Brahmkalpit Brahmans served as the temple priests for centuries ago. Since then, the Brahamkalpit Brahman known as Gayawal Tirth Purohit or Panda have served as priests for the Brahamkalpit Brahman community. Many famous saints have paid visits to this shrine, including Ramanuja, Madhvacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, and Sri Ramakrishna.

Gayasur, a demon who was rewarded with a boon

Pilgrims performing pind daan at Dev Ghat near falgu river, Gaya, Bihar

Once there was a demon known as Gayasura, who performed severe penance, and as a reward, was granted a boon: whosoever saw him would be saved (Moksham). Since salvation is attained through living one’s life in accordance with righteousness, it has become easily available. Lord Vishnu commanded Gayasura to crawl beneath the earth to prevent immoral people from reaching salvation by putting its right foot onto the head of asura.

Vishnu’s foot print was left there even after Gayasura had been pushed into the earth. The footprint includes nine distinct symbols, including Shankam, Chakram, and Gadham. It is claimed that these are the weapons of the Lord. The Gayasura dragon now laid on the ground cried for food. He was given a blessing by Lord Vishnu that every day, someone will give him a meal. Those who do so will have their souls flown to paradise. It is thought that he will come out on the day Gayasura doesn’t get any food. Every day, one or the other of different places in India would pray and offer food, feeding Gayasura, for the well being of their departed.

Lord Vishnu's footprint is visible here

Footprint of Lord Vishnu at Vishnupad temple, Gaya, Bihar

It is claimed that the temple was built around the footsteps of Lord Vishnu, who was said to have come to the world to establish dharma. In Hinduism, this imprint is said to symbolise Lord Vishnu laying his foot on Gayasur’s chest when he conquered him. Lord Vishnu’s 40 cm-long footprint is etched into solid rock in the Vishnupad Mandir, which is also encircled by a silver-plated basin. The temple’s 30-meter-high pavilion is supported by eight rows of intricately carved pillars. Large grey granite stones jointed with iron clamps comprise the temple.

Akshayavat banyan tree stands within the temple

Akshaywat tree, standing in the Vishnupad temple premises

The octagonal shrine faces east, toward the rising sun. The pyramid is 100 feet tall. The tower is shaped like a very tall thin rectangle with slopes on each side that alternately indent and smooth out. Instead of being all straight up and down, the parts are arranged at an angle, thereby creating a series of peaks with a central peak connecting them. A godly banyan tree called Akshayabat stands within the temple, where death rituals for the deceased are performed. A golden flag weighing roughly 51 kg is mounted on top of the temple. There is a silver covered hexagon railing inside the shrine called the “Garv ghiri” (pahal).

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Qs)

What is the entrance fee?

The Vishnupad Temple is open to the public for free.

Is the Vishnupad Temple open all year long?

Yes, the Vishnupad Temple is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Is there a way to get darshan via the internet?

No, there isn’t an option for online darshan.

Is it permissible to bring cell phones and other electronic devices into the temple?

No. In the temple, all electronic devices are prohibited (viz. mobile, camera, laptop). At the temple’s entrance, there is free storage for the same.

Is there a facility for the disabled and the elderly?

No. There are no such amenities available. A wheelchair, however, can be made accessible upon request.

Is there a facility for sight-seeing or visiting a neighbouring temple?

No. There are no such amenities available.

Is there a good time to visit Gaya?

The months of November to February are good for visiting the Vishnupad and other Gaya temples.

What is the climate like in the summer?

Gaya’s summer season begins in March and lasts till June. Summers in this part of the world can be extremely hot. During the day, temperatures can easily reach 45 degrees Celsius.

How are the winters in Gaya?

Winter in Gaya begins in November and lasts till February. The temperature is roughly 20 degrees Celsius at this time. The temperature is cold and nice at this time of year.

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