The temple is located on the bank of river Falgu River and has footprint of Vishnu known as Dharmasila, incised into a block of basalt. People believe that Lord Vishnu killed Gayasur by placing his foot on Gayasur's chest. 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.
The construction date of temple is unknown and it is believed that Rama along with Sita had visited this place. The present day structure was rebuilt by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in 1787. The 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock and surrounded by a silver plated basin. Within the temple stands the immortal banyan tree Akshayabat where the final rituals for the dead takes place.
There is a gold flag and couple of Kalash made of gold has been embedded at the top of the temple which use to always glitter. It is said that long ago two thieves tried to steal the golden flag and the kalash from the top of the temple, but one thief became stone at the top of the temple and the other became stone as he fell to the ground. The stone of the thieves still remains on public view (it is not a man shape but a flat shape of the thieves).
While Hindus claim that footprints in Vishunpad temple are of Lord Vishnu, Buddhists consider them the footprints of Lord Buddha. This place is also believed to be the one under which the Lord Buddha meditated for six years. Lord Buddha preached the Fire Sermon i.e. Adittapariyaya Sutta to around 1000 agriculture workers who were fire-worshipers. The influence of Buddha’s discourse was so enormous that all of them converted to Buddhism.
From Gaya Airport Vishnupada temple is 9.5 Km, 4.2 km from Gaya Junction and 7.8 km from Gaya Bus Stand. Cycle rickshaw and auto rickshaw are the best options to go the temple if not going by private vehicle.
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