Vishnupad Temple

Gaya, Bihar

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This temple is located along the Falgu River, marked by a footprint of Lord Vishnu known as Dharmasila, incised into a block of basalt. The Bhumihar Brahmins have been the traditional priests at Vishnupad Mandir in Gaya as Gayawal Pandas , nowadays other Brahmin took the management. Several legendary saints as Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Sankaradeva and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu have visited this shrine.

Once a demon known as Gayasura, did a heavy penance and sought a boon that whoever see him should attain salvation (Moksham). Since salvation is achieved through being righteous in one's lifetime, people started obtaining it easily. To prevent immoral people from attaining salvation Lord Vishnu asked Gayasura to go beneath the earth and did so by placing his right foot on asura's head. After pushing Gayasura below the surface of earth, Lord Vishnu's foot print remained on the surface that we see even today. The footprint consists of nine different symbols including Shankam, Chakram and Gadham. These are believed to be weapons of the lord. Gayasura now pushed into earth pleaded for food. Lord Vishnu gave him a boon that every day, someone will offer him food. Whoever does so, their souls will reach heaven. The day Gayasura doesn't get food, it is believed that he will come out. Every day, one or the other from different parts of India will pray for welfare of his departed and offer food, feeding Gayasura.

 

Architecture

This is believed that the temple was built with the footprints of Lord Vishnu in the centre. In Hinduism, this footprint marks the act of Lord Vishnu subduing Gayasur by placing his foot on his chest. Inside the Vishnupad Mandir, the 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock and surrounded by a silver plated basin. The height of this temple is 30 meters and it a has 8 rows of beautifully carved pillars which support the pavilion.

The temple is built of large gray granite blocks jointed with iron clamps. The octagonal shrine faces east. Its pyramidal tower rises up a 100 feet. The tower has sloping sides with alternately indented and plain sections. The sections are set at an angle to create a series of peaks joined at the top. Within the temple stands the immortal banyan tree Akshayabat where the final rituals for the dead takes place. On top of the temple is a gold flag weighing approximately 51 kg. Inside the temple is a (Garv ghiri ) a silver coated hexagon railing also known as (pahal).

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