Gaya (India)

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This article is about the municipality in India. For its namesake district, see Gaya district.
For other uses, see Gaya.
Gaya
गया
Metropolitan City
Brahmayoni hill
Brahmayoni hill, where Buddha taught to Fire Sutta
Gaya is located in Bihar
Gaya
Gaya
Location of Gaya in Bihar
Coordinates: 24°45′N 85°01′E / 24.75°N 85.01°E / 24.75; 85.01Coordinates: 24°45′N 85°01′E / 24.75°N 85.01°E / 24.75; 85.01
Country  India
State Bihar
Region Magadha
Division Magadh Division
District Gaya
Government
 • Type Municipal corporation
 • Body Gaya Nagar Nigam
Area[1]
 • Total 50.17 km2 (19.37 sq mi)
Elevation 111 m (364 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Total 463,454
 • Rank 95th
 • Density 7,800/km2 (20,000/sq mi)
Demonym Gayaite
Languages
 • Official Magahi, Hindi, English
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 823001 - 06
Telephone code 91-631
Vehicle registration BR 02
Railway Station Gaya Junction
Airport Gaya Airport
Website www.gaya.bih.nic.in

Gaya (/ɡʌjɑː/) (Hindi: गया) is a city of ancient historical and mythological significance. It is one of the major tourist attractions of Bihar. The city is the second largest city of Bihar[2] and also the headquarters of Gaya District.
Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar and 230 km from Bhagalpur. Situated on the banks of the Phalgu River (or Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by the Jain, Hindu and Buddhist religions. It is surrounded by small rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila and Brahmayoni) by three sides and the river flowing on the fourth (eastern) side. The city has a mix of natural surroundings, age old buildings and narrow bylanes.

Origin of name and importance to Hindu religion[edit]

Gaya derives its name from the mythological demon Gayasur (which literally means Gaya the demon). According to Vayu Purana, Gaya was the name of a demon (Asura) whose body was pious after he performed rigid penance and secured blessings from Vishnu. It was said that the body of Gayasura was transformed into the series of rocky hills that make up the landscape of Gaya.[3]
Gayasura was so holy that he had the power to absolve the sins of those who touched him or looked at him; after his death many people have flocked to Gaya to perform Shraddha sacrifices on his body to absolve the sins of their ancestors. Gods and goddesses had promised to live on Gayasur's body after he died, and the hilltop protuberances of Gaya are surmounted by temples to various gods and goddesses. These hilltop temples at Rama Shila, Mangla Gauri, Shringa Sthan and Brahmayoni are part of pilgrimage circuit, and grand staircases have been built up to most of them.

Holy sites in Gaya[edit]

Gaya is a holy place for buddhism, jainsim and hindusim. Ghats and temples are lined on the banks of the sacred Phalgu River. Trees such as pipal trees and Akshayavat, the undying banyan, are especially sacred. The Mangla Gauri shrine is marked by two rounded stones that symbolize the breasts of the mythological Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva. The most popular temple today is Vishnupad Temple, a place along the Phalgu River, marked by a footprint of Vishnu incised into a block of basalt, that marks the act of Lord Vishnu subduing Gayasur by placing his foot on Gayasur's chest. Bhumihar Brahmin have been the traditional priests at Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya as Gayawal Pandas and in the adjoining districts like Hazaribagh.[4] The present-day temple was rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in the 18th century. Buddhist tradition regards the footstep in the Vishnupad Temple as a footstep of Buddha (who is regarded as an Avatar of Vishnu by Hindus).

Vishnupadh Temple

Gaya is significant to Hindus from the point of view of salvation to the souls of ancestors (a ritual called pinda daan). According to Ramayana, Lord Rama came to Gaya along with Sita for pitripaksha (or to perform pindadanam). While Lord Rama had gone to have his bath before offering this pindadanam, his father King Dasharath's hands appeared and a voice spoke to Sita asking her to offer the pindam herself, as the King was very hungry. Moved by this, Sita prepared pindams out of sand, and offered them herself to the hands that appeared to receive them. After some time, Lord Rama came back and started performing the rites. When it was time to give the pindadanam, he was surprised and pained to see his father's not receiving it. Sita then explained what had occurred. She called for the river Phalgu, a Brahman standing nearby, cow, and a banyan tree nearby as a witness to this miraculous occurrence. Except for the banyan tree that supported her, rest of them denied her story - Brahman had a greed for more money as offerings, river Phalgu in a wish to receive more offerings from Lord Rama, and the cow in awe of the Lord. So, Sita cursed the three liars. Ramayana states that on account of this curse, Phalgu River lost its water, and the river is simply a vast stretch of sand dunes. At the same time Sita blessed a banyan tree to be immortal. This tree is known as Akshyavat. Akshyavat is combination of two words Akshya (which never decay) and Vat (Banyan tree). Once a year banyan trees shed leaves, but this particular tree never sheds its leaves which keeps it green even in times of drought.

For Jainism, Gaya is an important place where it has many Jain temples and it has nearest airport to reach Jain Pilgrimage Pawapuri from where Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana (Moksha). In Gaya Jain Temple is near Clock Tower. This temple is very neat and clean on the first floor where idols of different Tirthankras are placed. The idol of Bhagwan Chandraprabhu is specifically miraculous. For pilgrims, residential facility is available in Jain Bhawan near the temple.

Parasnath hill is a pilgrim destination located in Gaya. Jain religious scriptures reveal that out of 24 Jain Tirthankars, 22 attained salvation at this place and for this simple reason the place is considered the most sacred for Jain followers. Jain devotees flock in large number every year to Parasnath hill.

For Buddhists, Gaya is an important pilgrimage place because it was at Brahmayoni hill that Buddha preached the Fire Sermon (Adittapariyaya Sutta) to a thousand former fire-worshipping ascetics, who all became enlightened while listening to this discourse. At that time, the hill was called Gayasisa.

Jama Masjid[edit]

Jama Masjid of Gaya is the largest mosque of Bihar. It has been constructioned approx 180 years ago by Royal Family of Muzaffarpur. Thousand of peoples can offer Namaz together. It is a big of centre of Tabligh in Bihar. Now these day this mosque is being shown as a historical place.

Fairs[edit]

There are many fairs organised in Gaya − some on the basis of business or some on the basis of extending its culture. Here a fair of animals is organised twice in a year at the bank of river Phalgu just opposite to the Vishnu pad.

History[edit]

The 94 ft. tall Vishal Buddha Mandir, Bodh Gaya.

Ancient history[edit]

Documented history of Gaya dates back to the enlightenment of Gautam Buddha. About 11 km from Gaya town is Bodh Gaya, the place where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. Since then the places around Gaya (Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Patliputra) had been the citadel of knowledge for the ancient world. These centers of knowledge further flourished under the rule of dynasties like the Mauryans who ruled from Patliputra (modern Patna) and covered the area beyond the boundaries of the Indian subcontinent. During this period, Gaya was a part of the Magadh region.

Modern history[edit]

The town of Gaya, in about 1810 AD, consisted of two parts  : one the residence of the priests, which properly was called Gaya ; and the other the residence of lawyers and tradesmen, which was originally called Elahabad, but later on,as developed by a renowned collector “Saheb”- Mr.Thomas Law, it was called Sahebgunj.It is the birthplace of eminent nationalist Bihar Vibhuti Dr Anugrah Narain Sinha;Bihar's first deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister.The last great ruler of Magadha was maharaja of Tekari. Great nationalist and leader of Kisan Andolan, Swami Sahajanand Saraswati established an ashram at Neyamatpur, Gaya (Bihar) which later became the centre of freedom struggle in Bihar. His close associate was Vir Keshwar Singh of Parihas. All the prominent leaders of Indian National Congress visited there frequently to meet Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, the leader of Kisan Andolan who resided in the ashram set up by Swamiji. Yadunandan Sharma became the undisputed leader of peasants in the Gaya district and second in command to the legendary freedom fighter and peasant leader Swami Sahajanand Saraswati.[5] Gaya has also immensely contributed in the Indian Independence Movement. During the independence movement, the All India session of the Congress was held under the presidency of Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das in 1922, which was attended by great illumanaries and prominent leaders of the Indian Independence Movement, such as Mohandas K. Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad,Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sri Krishna Sinha.
Shri Ishwar Chaudhary was a member of Fifth, Sixth and Ninth Lok Sabha during 1971-79 and 1989-91 representing Gaya constituency of Bihar. A well known social and political worker, he devoted his life for the upliftment of the weaker sections of the society. He took active part in the proceedings of the House, which bear a testimony of his concern for the toiling masses of the country. He served on the Committee on welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. He was also associated with the consultative Committee of the Ministry oœ Labour and Welfare. Shri Ishwar Chaudhary, who was a candidate for election to the Tenth Lok Sabha, fell to an assassin's bullet on 15 May 1991. He was only 52 years old.

Climate[edit]

As Gaya is surrounded by hills from three sides and one side by rivers so the climate of Gaya is seasonable (means in winter it is too cold and in summer it is too hot). Climate is characterized by relatively high temperatures and evenly distributed precipitation throughout the year. The Köppen Climate Classification sub-type for this climate is "Cfa" (Humid Subtropical Climate).[6]

Climate data for Gaya, India
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 24
(75)
27
(80)
33
(92)
39
(102)
41
(105)
38
(101)
33
(92)
32
(90)
33
(91)
32
(89)
29
(84)
25
(77)
32.2
(89.8)
Average low °C (°F) 10
(50)
13
(55)
18
(64)
23
(74)
27
(80)
28
(82)
26
(79)
26
(78)
25
(77)
22
(71)
14
(58)
10
(50)
20.2
(68.2)
Precipitation mm (inches) 20
(0.8)
20
(0.8)
13
(0.5)
8
(0.3)
20
(0.8)
137
(5.4)
315
(12.4)
328
(12.9)
206
(8.1)
53
(2.1)
10
(0.4)
3
(0.1)
1,133
(44.6)
Source: Weatherbase[7]

Economy[edit]

Gaya has a large number of household industries like production of agarbattis, production of tilkut and lai, stone crafting, power looms and hand looms. Gaya functions as a service centre for the surrounding towns and villages. Commercial activities are located along the important roads of the town. The main vegetable market in the city is the Kedarnath Market. In additional the city has a large number of informal shops. On account of Gaya being an important centre for religious tourism, the city has a large number of affordable accommodations.
There is no Large Scale Industries / Public Sector undertakings in the city. The industries in the city are mainly affected by shortage of electricity power problem. Credit facility with banks. Lack of knowledge on export marketing. Lack of market network. Latest technology available to improve quality as well as product etc.[8]

Demographics[edit]

As per 2011 census, Gaya Urban Agglomeration had a population of 470,839.[9] Gaya Urban Agglomeration includes Gaya (Municipal Corporation), Kaler (Out Growth) and Paharpur (Census Town).[10] Gaya Municipal Corporation had a total population of 463,454, out of which 245,764 were males and 217,690 were females. The population below 5 years was 59,015. The sex ratio was 886. The literacy rate for the 7+ population was 85.74 per cent.[11]

Religions in gaya
Religion Percent
Hindus
  
77%
Muslims
  
21%
Christians
  
0.2%
Jains
  
1.4%
Others†
  
0.4%
Distribution of religions
Includes Sikhs (0.2%), Buddhists (<0.2%).

Transportation[edit]

Gaya is well connected to the rest of India by roads and railways. It also has an airport which has seasonal services for some South-Asian destinations.

Local transport[edit]

City bus, taxis, tongas, auto rickshaw, cycle rickshaws ply across the city and for Bodhgaya.

Roadways[edit]

Regular direct bus services run from Gaya to Patna, Bhagalpur, Munger, Nalanda, Rajgir, Varanasi, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Kolkata and Dhanbad. In 2011, A/C Mercedez Benz Luxury services have been introduced by Bihar State Road Transport Corporation for Muzaffarpur, Patna, munger, bhagalpur, Motihari, Hazaribagh and Ramgarh.
The National Highway 2 Grand Trunk Road from Kolkata to Delhi passes about 30 km from Gaya. This connects Gaya to Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Rourkela, Durgapur, Kolkata (495 km), Varanasi (252 km), Allahabad, Kanpur, Delhi, Amritsar, and to the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. Gaya is connected to Patna (105 km) by NH 83, Nawada, Rajgir (78 km) and Bihar Sharif by NH 82. Plans have been made to construct a four lane road from Gaya to Patna

Airport[edit]

Main article: Gaya Airport

Situated between Gaya (7 km) and Bodh Gaya (11 km), Gaya International Airport is the only operating international airport in Bihar and Jharkhand. It is connected to Colombo, Sri Lanka through two airline operators; Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore and Paro, Bhutan. It is said to be being developed as a stand-by to the Kolkata airport.[12] Gaya Airport is served by Indian Airlines for domestic flights and Sri Lankan Airlines, Mihin Lanka, Drukair, Jet Airways, Thai Airways and Indian Airlines for international flights. Currently, there are domestic operations to New Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi from this airport.

Cuisine[edit]

The staple food of Gaya is common to the rest of Bihar and Jharkhand. The other special preparations found in Gaya are typically traditional Bihari food. The most popular of them include sattu, litti-chhokha, litti, pittha, pua, marua-ka-roti, bari-dal, sattu-ka-roti, baigan-bharta, sukhaota, kopal ki kofta and also famous chat from tower chowk etc. The spicy 'Achar', made by the women of Gaya, is also a delicacy.

Sweets[edit]

Gaya has been the origin of several sweet delicacies popular in the whole of Bihar, Jharkhand and the rest of India. Tilkut, Khaja, Kesaria Peda, Lai, Anarsa of Ramana road and tekari road are the most popular sweets that bear the trademark of Gaya.

Tilkut being the most popular of them is prepared using til[disambiguation needed] or sesame seeds (Sesamum Indicum) and jaggery or sugar. It is a seasonal (winter) sweet and only the karigars (workers) from Gaya are believed to impart the real taste of Tilkut. One can find Tilkuts carrying the label "Ramna, Gaya" and "Tekari road, Gaya"even in far flung places like Kolkata and Delhi.

Kesaria peda is yet another delicious sweet prepared from khoya (solid milk cream) and kesar (saffron). The Chowk area of the city specializes in Kesaria Peda production.

There are several varieties of Lai available in Bihar, including Lai from Gaya. The main component of this Lai is Ram dana seeds. These ram danas are processed and mixed with khoya and sugar to give rise to a disk shaped sweet.

Anarsa is also based on khoya, but is deep fried and processed with sugar. Anarsa comes in two shapes 'thin disk' and 'spherical'. The sweet is finally embedded with til (sesame) toppings.

These sweets are dry and hence easily packagable, preserved, and transported, unlike Bengali sweets, many of which are soaked in sugar syrups. There is a tradition among the residents to gift the visitors with these sweets when they depart, as a token of love. Besides this, in Gaya one must try roadside eateries like Aloo-kaChaloo & Chaat. Aloo-Kachaloo is made up of boiled potatoes sprinkled with red chilly powder and jeera powder, salt and tamarind water specially at the place of Batamore. One can easily find such joints outside schools and colleges as it is a favourite of kids and teenagers.

Snacks[edit]

The people of Gaya are fond of spicy-sour traditional snacks. There are certain snacks that are found only in Gaya. The most popular among them are Samosa Chat, Alu-Kachalu and Sabudana-Badam Bhoonja, aalu chaat.

Sabudana-Badam Bhoonja is a dry snack that is unique to the Gaya city. It is a mixture of fried sabudana (sago) and fried badam (groundnut or moongfali is called badam or sometime chiniya-badam in Bihar) along with salt (both white and black), chili powder and jeera (cumin seeds) powder. The mobile bhoonja vendors shouting humorous slogans can be found in every bylane of the Gaya city during the twilight hours. Chanajor garam is one of the most spicy snacks made up of black gram and traditional(typical)masala,being served with lemon juice and typical powder. Bakarkahni and Chai Biscuit are also very famous of Chatta Masjid.

Education[edit]

There have been scholars from the city with contributions in the field of education, most of the government-run schools in Gaya are affiliated to Bihar School Examination Board. There are two Central Schools (Kendriya Vidyalaya) affiliated with the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, New Delhi. Most of the private schools are affiliated to ICSE and CBSE boards.

The only university at Gaya is Magadh University (largest university of Bihar) located near Bodhgaya established by educationist and the then Education Minister S N Sinha. Gaya has several colleges with graduate and post-graduate courses offered in Sciences, Arts, Commerce, Management and Computer Applications. The well known ones include Gaya College (NAAC accredited with Grade-A), Anugrah Memorial College, Gaya College of Engineering (GCE), Jagjivan College, Mahesh Singh Yadav College, Mirza Ghalib College, Buddha Institute of Technology (B.Tech. & Diploma Engineering College). Gautam Buddha Mahila College (GBM College) is exclusively for women.

Offiers Training Academy Gaya, started in July 2011, is the third pre-commission training (PCT) academy of the Indian Army with a planned training capacity of 750 cadets.

Central University of Bihar will now have its own campus in Gaya.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "City Development Plan for Gaya: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY" (PDF). Urban Development and Housing Department, Government of Bihar. p. 4. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.censusindia.gov.in/2011-prov-results/paper2/data_files/India2/Table_3_PR_UA_Citiees_1Lakh_and_Above.pdf
  3. ^ http://www.harekrsna.com/philosophy/associates/demons/vishnu/gayasur.htm
  4. ^ Saraswati, Swami Sahajanand ( bhumihar brahmin) (2003). Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Rachnawali in Six volumes (in Volume 1). Delhi: Prakashan Sansthan. pp. 519 (Volume 1). ISBN 81-7714-097-3. 
  5. ^ Das, Arvind Narayan (1982). Agrarian Movements in India: Studies on 20th century Bihar. Routledge. 
  6. ^ Climate Summary for Gaya, India
  7. ^ "Weatherbase.com". Weatherbase. 2013.  Retrieved on July 31, 2013.
  8. ^ http://dcmsme.gov.in/dips/Gaya_BIHAR.pdf
  9. ^ "Urban Agglomerations/Cities having population 1 lakh and above". Provisional Population Totals, Census of India 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  10. ^ "Constituents of urban Agglomerations Having Population 1 Lakh & above". Provisional Population Totals, Census of India 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  11. ^ "Cities having population 1 lakh and above". Provisional Population Totals, Census of India 2011. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  12. ^ "Airport land issue: Patna's loss, Gaya's gain". The Times Of India. 

External links[edit]

  1. Adittapariyaya Sutta – The Fire
  2. Verse from the Vatthupama Sutta – The Simile of the Cloth''
  • Gaya travel guide from Wikivoyage