Best Things To Do In Gaya, Bihar

things to do in gaya

Located on the southern part of the state of Bihar, Gaya is considered one of the most essential and sacred cities for Buddhists around the world. This city was also known as Bodh Gaya or Buddha-Gaya back in the 19th century since this city was the place where the royal Prince Siddartha received his enlightenment to become Buddha. The town gained its name from the mythological demon named Gayasur, who received his penance from Lord Vishnu and later transformed into the landscape of Gaya. Due to its historical value that dates a long way back, Gaya is one of the cities in India that houses many interesting historical sites and buildings that are all worth a visit. Keep on reading to find out the list of best things to do in Gaya, Bihar.

1. Check out the artifacts at Gaya Museum

Bodh Gaya railings Indian Museum Calcutta
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Biswarup Ganguly used under CC BY 3.0

Established back in the year 1952, Gaya Museum housed a broad range of personal collection that was once owned by Shri Baldeo Prasad. It was recorded that the museum holds more than 3,000 antiquities for its visitors to admire. Sculptures, photographs, manuscripts, bronze figures, and many more came from the periods of Mayurayan and Gupta. Gaya Museum also has a children’s section where kids can learn about the history of the city through decorative arts, paintings, sketches, and many more.

Gaya Museum

Address: Jail Rd, Jaiprakash Nagar, Gaya, Bihar

Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

2. Visit the ancient footprint of Lord Vishnu

Vishnupad Temple- Rear side
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Keymaker31 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Vishnupad Temple, or Vishnupas Mandir, is one of many Hindu temples that’s dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It’s located along the Falgu River and famous for the 40-cm (15.7 inches) long footprint of Lord Vishnu inside that was imprinted on a solid rock and surrounded by silver basin. Many people believed that the print became the centre of the building of the temple since it’s the symbol of Lord Vishnu defeating Gayasur by stepping on the demon’s chest. Vishnupad Mandir is 30 metres (98.4 feet) in height and was built in an octagonal shape and a pavilion that’s supported by eight embossed pillars. At the temple complex, an Akshayabat tree was planted. It is known as the immortal banyan tree and has become the place to conduct the final rituals for the dead.

Vishnupad Temple

Address: Chand Chaura, Gaya

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

3. Feel the tranquil atmosphere at Palyul Namdroling Temple

Puja, Gutor
Source: Photo by user Palyul used under CC BY-ND 2.0

This temple located near the Grand Buddha of Gaya, and it’s not exactly a touristy spot so you can enjoy a quiet and calming visit to Palyul Namdroling Temple. Some people who have visited the place said that the site is so serene and has a strong mystical aura, entering it along brings about an unknown fear. But, don’t let this stop you from admiring this beautiful temple on your visit to Gaya.

Palyul Namdroling Temple

Address: 80 feet statue Rd, Bodh Gaya, Bihar 824231, India

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

4. Check out the temple that fulfils prayers

Posted by Jai Maa manglagauri,Gaya on Thursday, 21 September 2017

This is an ancient temple from the 15th century and it’s been mentioned on several scripture works. A bit of walking is needed to reach this temple, as well as climbing up a small hill rock and walking through local villages as well. There is a belief that visiting Maa Mangla Gauri Mandir can help fulfil wishes and prayers.

Maa Mangla Gauri Mandir

Address: Mangla Gauri More, Gaya

Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)

Other attractions near Bodh Gaya

5. See mythical Muchalinda Lake

Muchalinda Lake is one of the six sacred places in the complex of Mahabodhi Temple that should be in your must-visit list when you’re visiting this city. The lake got its name from the giant Snake King that protected Buddha when he was meditating during bad weather. If you’re visiting during the summer, you might want to prepare yourself with mosquito repellant, since the lake tends to attract them.

Muchalinda Lake

Address: Main City, Bodh Gaya

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

6. Step into the past at the oldest rock caves in India

Barabar Caves - Rock Carvings, Kawa Dol (9224515053)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Photo Dharma used under CC BY 2.0

This is a complex of several rock caves that’s located at the twin hills of Barabar and Nagarjuni. There are seven caves in total that dated back to the 3rd century of Maurya period. Barabar Hills has four caves and they are Karan Chaupar, Sudama, Lomas Rishi, and Visvakarma. Meanwhile Nagarjuni has three, that are Gopika, Vadithi-ka-Kubha, and Vapiya-ka-Kubha caves. What makes these caves interesting is the fact that they were carved out of the incredibly tough stone, granite, and the finishing method was so incredible that it gave it a brilliant mirror and echo effect.

Barabar Caves

Address: Twin Hills (1.6 Km From Nagarjuni Hill, Gaya)

7. Explore Hindu and Buddhist relics at Archaeological Museum of Bodhgaya

Indian Museum Sculpture - Bodhi Tree (9220261312)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Photo Dharma used under CC BY 2.0

Also known as the Archaeological Museum of Bodhgaya, this museum is built in 1956 near the notorious Mahabodhi Temple. This is the place where you can find many heritage relics of Hindu and Buddhist culture from rare antique collections such as sculptures from the 1st century and idols that were made from valuable materials such as gold, silver, and bronze. Here, you can also see a gallery that displays the incarnations of Lord Vishnu or Dasavatara. Tourists are not the only ones who are interested in this place but also archaeologists and historians–mostly they visit in large numbers.

Archaeological Museum of Bodhgaya

Address: Archaeological Society of India Museum, Gaya Center, Bodh Gaya, Bihar

Opening hours: Sat - Thu: 10am - 5pm (closed on Fri)

8. Marvel at the incomparable Royal Bhutan Monastery

Bhutan temple in Bodhgaya
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ineb-2553 used under CC0

The King of Bhutan built Royal Bhutan Monastery in Bodhgaya as a tribute to the Buddha and is one of the most exquisite pieces of Bhutan architecture based on its culture and tradition. Inside, you can see the story of Buddha carved in clay and it became one of the reasons why many Buddhist followers from around the world visit this magnificent monastery. When you feel like taking a rest during your visit, you can stay at the accommodation inside the monastery complex, which is equipped with air conditioning and attached bathrooms. The 24-hour front desk is also ready to assist you with room service, laundry, and parking needs.

Royal Bhutan Monastery

Address: Birla Road, Bodh Gaya District

Opening hours: 7am - 7pm (daily)

Price: Free

9. Be awed by the largest Buddha statue in India

Great Buddha Statue, Bodh Gaya
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Andrew Moore used under CC BY-SA 2.0

As you set your eyes on the Grand Buddha Statue of Bodhi Gaya, you will instantly feel humbled by the size of it. You will wonder about how you are actually just a small being in this universe before this 80-foot (24.3 metres) tall grand statue. Built in the span of seven years from 1982 to 1989 on a mix of sandstone blocks and red granite, this statue of Buddha meditating on a lotus was inaugurated by the current Dalai Lama.

Grand Buddha Statue of Bodhi Gaya

Address: Great Buddha Statue Road, Daijokyo Buddhist Temple, Bodh Gaya

10. Get enlightened at the ancient Bodhi Tree

The Bodhi Tree - Bodh Gaya
Source: Photo by user Ken Wieland used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Bodhi Tree was known as the place where Buddha received his enlightenment. Although the tree that you might find at the location is most likely not the ancient tree where Siddartha Buddha received his awakening, it’s most likely that today’s Bodhi Tree is a direct descendant of the original fig tree from 2,500 years ago. Many Buddhists visit the Bodhi Tree in Gaya as part of their pilgrimage and they meditate and absorb the Buddha’s teachings under the Bodhi Tree.

Bodhi Tree

Address: 100 km south of Patna, Bihar

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

Make your own pilgrimage to India's sacred city for Buddhists

Bodh Gaya might be a city that has religious meaning to Buddhists all around the world but it’s also open for others and will welcome all with a warm embrace. If you plan to visit this city and take a tour of the essential places, make sure you prepare yourself with respect to the area and its rules. Have a phenomenal time enjoying the best things to do in Gaya, Bihar.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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