Gaya is a major pilgrimage city in Bihar for Hindus and Buddhists. It is visited for doing Pind Dan (funeral offerings for the benefit of the soul of the deceased) and for visiting Bodh Gaya and Vishnupad temple.
Gaya is a ritual place and it is famous for Pind daan. People from all over the country, as well as Hindus from abroad, come here to perform pind daan puja for their deceased ancestors. This rituals brings peace to the wandering souls. Many people come here during the monsoon months (September - October) for the pitripaksh tarpan (prayers offered for the dead). The pilgrims take a dip in the seasonal holy river 'Phalgu' during this season. There is huge gathering of people for 2 weeks for pitripaksha mela.
"Gaya is a picturesque city surrounded by temple-crowned hills... It is a place of great sanctity and a very important place for pilgrimage, the central point of which is the Vishnupad temple that enshrines a footprint of Vishnu. The temple was built in the 18th century by the Maratha princess Ahliyabai. The hills around the city are also places of sanctity. The highest is that of Brahmayoni, which rises precipitately to a height of 450 feet above the plain. Six miles south of Gaya is the great temple of Bodh Gaya, one of the holiest places in the world, and the most sacred of all places to the Buddhists. These (Barabar) hills are 6-8 miles east of Bela railway station, the second railway station on the way to Patna... This is the site of the ancient Silabhadra monastery. On a low ridge of granite in the southern corner of the valley are the famous Barabar caves. The reader of E.M.Forster’s book A Passage to India will recall the incident of which the scene is one of these caves." - Sir John Houlton in Bihar the Heart of India
Now a days it is an ordinary district headquarter of India and bears a polluted, not so clean and dusty look though it still draws thousands of Hindu pilgrims as a pilgrimage and place for a compulsory pindadaan (funeral offerings to the deceased) for Hindus.
Gaya is well connected through air, rail and road.
- 1 Gaya Airport (GAY IATA). Domestic flight with Air India from Delhi, Kolkata, Yangon and Varanasi. Plus seasonal flights from other providers, including from Bangkok.
- The second option is Patna (PAT IATA), which is 125 km away and well connected by rail and road service.
- Gaya is the hub for many trains passing through Bihar. There are lots of trains directly from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai. and Patna.
- There are many private A/C, non-A/C and luxury buses operating daily. You can get a bus from Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Patna, Hazaribag, Dhanbad, etc.
You can easily visit Gaya by car. There are many car rental companies available. Nalanda Travels provides cabs on rent for Rajgir, Nalanda, Patna, Vaishali,Varanasi.
- Brahmayoni. Hillock, which offers nice bird's eye view of the plains.
- 1 Mangla Gauri Temple, Shakti Peetham, ☎ . A temple on top of the mountain. One of the most holy Shakti peeths of India.
- Pretshila. Hillock, which offers nice bird's eye view of the plains.
- 2 Vishnupad Temple. Has got the impression of Lord Vishnu's foot. Lots of person visiting every year to offer Shrad for their died family member (Purvaj).
Worship in Vishnupad temple of lord Vishnu. Worship in Mangla Gauri (first wife of lord Shiva) Asthan.
- Ambedkar market. There are a few showrooms of famous brands like Raymonds, Killer, John Players, Adidas,levis etc.
- GB Road. The main shopping centre.
The main sweets are Enursa, Tilkut and Lai all of which are exclusive to the city. One can easily get these in shops at Tekari Road and Ramna Road. Two of the famous sweet stores are Kaveri and Pramod misthan bhandar.
- 1 Paprika, K.P. Road (near Tower Chowk), ☎ . Claims to be vegetarian fine dining but more like a clean family diner.
There are a lot of budget hotels in Gaya situated in the station road.
Also there are a few good hotels in the city
- 1 Hotel Ajatsatru, Station Rd (In front of Gaya railway station), ☎ . Also has a restaurant with good multicuisine food.
- Heritage Inn, swarajpuri road rai kashinath more,gaya,bihar, ☎ . a banquet hall with a restaurant
- Sidharata International.
- Barabar Caves, the oldest surviving rock-cut caves in India, mostly dating from the Mauryan period (322–185 BCE), and some with Ashokan inscriptions, located in the Jehanabad District, 24 km north of Gaya.
- Bodh Gaya — the main attraction in the area is the Buddha Temple in Bodhgaya, here Buddha acquired the Power of Knowledge. Buses are common from Gaya to Bodh Gaya during peak season. Auto rickshaws cost about ₹200 and an air conditioned taxi costs ₹300-₹350.
- Bramhjauni Hill
- Kakolat Falls
- Nalanda - The famous Nalanda University was situated here, and its remains are the city's main attraction.