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Gaya Travel Guide:

Gaya is a city in Bihar, India, and it is also the headquarters of Gaya District.
Gaya is 100 kilometers south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. Situated on the banks of Falgu River (Niranjana, as mentioned in Ramayana), it is a place sanctified by both the Hindu and the 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.
Gaya was a part of the ancient state Magadha. In South Bihar, the most prominent representative of Bhumihar Brahmin was the Tekari Raj family, whose great estate in Gaya dated back to the early 18th century.

Ancient history

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

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 Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, the leader of Kisan Andolan who resided in the ashram set up by Swamiji. Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) 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.[4] 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 Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad,Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Nehru and Sri Krishna Sinha.

Gaya is located at 24°47'N 85°00'E? / ?24.78°N 85.0°E? / 24.78; 85.0.[5] It has an average elevation of 111 metres (364 ft).

As of 2001[update] India census,[6] Gaya had a population of 275000. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Gaya has an average literacy rate of 68%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 74%, and female literacy is 60%. In Gaya, 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Gaya is well connected to the rest of India and the world by roadways, railways and airways.

The Grand Trunk Road (NH-2, which has undergone a revival under The Golden Quadrilateral project) is about 30 km from Gaya. Thus, Gaya is well connected to Patna, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Bokaro, Rourkela, Hazaribag, Kolkata, Budaun, Bareilly, Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Delhi, Amritsar, and to the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Peshawar. The highway connecting Gaya to Patna, Gaya to Nawada, Rajgir and Bihar Sharif are well maintained.

Most of the government-run schools in Gaya (notably Zila School, Haridas Seminary - also known as Town School, Theosophical Model School, Gaya High School, Anugrah Kanya Vidayalaya, Mahaveer School, Qasmi High School and Hadi Hashmi School, Government Girls High School) 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 major ones being Banshi Dhar Shishu Niketan, Creane Memorial High School, Nazareth Academy, D.A.V Public School Medical Road, Gyan Bharti Public school, D.A.V Public School Cantonment Area, D.A.V. Public School Gaya-Nawada Road, Shatabdi Public School (Katari Hill Road), Greenfield Public School, Sir Syed Memorial School Bhadeya, Elegant Public School, Iqra Public School Formerly Iqra Academy (New Karimganj)Nagmatia Affiliated to CBSE Delhi ,MDA Public School (Bitho Sharif) and many more. Nazareth Academy is one of the oldest schools, which is managed by a US based congregation called 'Sisters of Charity of Nazareth'.Gyan Bharti public school is one of the best school in town. The government-run public schools lack many facilities, but are the only options for the poor who cannot afford the fees in private schools.Gyan Niketan NGO Non Government Organization charitable school is a single school in north side of Bodhgaya who provides free education to 200 students surrounded by more than five villages.
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, Jagjivan College, Mirza Ghalib College. Gautam Buddha Mahila College (GBM College) is exclusively meant for women.
Anugraha Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital (ANMMCH)[8] is the medical college in Gaya. Gaya has an Industrial Training Institute for vocational education located on Bodhgaya Road

Importance to Hindu Religion
Gaya derives its name from the mythological demon Gayasur (which literally means Gaya the demon), demon (asur, a Sanskrit word) and Gaya. Lord Vishnu killed Gayasur, the holy demon by using the pressure of his foot over him. This incident transformed Gayasur into the series of rocky hills that make up the landscape of the Gaya city. Gaya 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 the pilgrimage circuit, and grand staircases have been built up to most of them. In Vishnu Pad Temple, Guruji Shri Vishnukant Mishra Ji is the main "priest" of this temple and Shri Shashikant Mishra is the eldest son of Guruji.

The largest mosque in Bihar. It is situated in heart of the Gaya city. It is approx 200 yrs. old. It's also famous for Shabina (special worship on 27th night of Ramadan) and Tabligh etc.