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Gaya - city of ancient historical and mythological significance OR holy place for buddhism

Gaya, located in the Gaya District, is one of the most sacred places for the devout Hindus and one of the only two places in India where pinda daan can be performed, the other being Varanasi. Pinda Daan is a very vital Hindu ritual which enables the soul of the dead people to get Moksha (nirvana). Religiously inclined Hindus from far off places go on a pilgrimage to Gaya to perform this highly significant Hindu ritual.

Gaya has several key temples with the most famed being the Vishnupad Temple. The place located along the Falgu River is marked by a footprint of Vishnu carved into a basalt block, which signifies the act of Lord Vishnu defeating Gayasur (a powerful demon) by placing his foot on the demon’s chest.

Bodh Gaya

While Gaya is holy for the Hindus, Bodh Gaya, located in the same district, holds much significance for the Buddhists. Bodh Gaya -- earlier called Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi -- is the most sacred of the four most famous destinations related with the life of Lord Buddha, the other three being Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath. Bodh Gaya houses the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. It is here that Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment (nirvna), called Bodhimandala by the Buddhists.

Attractions

Mahabodhi Temple : The most famed attraction of Bodh Gaya, Mahabodhi Temble, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated where Lord Buddha received enlightenment.

Bodhi Tree : This famous holy tree is believed to be an offspring of the same tree under which Lord Budhha had received enlightenment. Vajrasana : Lord Buddha is believed to have sat in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi Tree, where the Vajrasana, the stone platform is kept.

Chankaramana : This marks the holy site of the Buddha's meditative perambulations during the third week following sacred enlightenment. It is said that wherever the Lord Buddha put his feet lotus appeared.

Arimeshlochana : It is believed that the Lord Buddha stayed for about a week at this spot looking towards the great Mahabodhi Tree out of gratefulness, without flashing his eyes.

Ratnagar : Lord Buddha spent one week here, and five colours sprang out from his body here.

Mohanta's Monastery : Placed right next to the Mahabodhi Temple, this Shaivite monastery was the venue where Adi Sankaracharya engaged Buddhist philosophers in heated debates.

Buddha Jayanti Festival : This unique festival celebrated in the month of May every year marks the appearance day of Lord Buddha, the day he received enlightenment, and the day his soul left his body.

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