Gaya is located on the north-eastern part of the country, in the state of Bihar
. It lies on the banks of the Phalgu River, 13 km to the north of Bodhgaya
and 100 km south of the city of Patna
. Magadh University
and an archaeological museum are located here. Vishnupaada Temple
built by Queen Ahalyabai Holkar at Gaya in 1787 is a major pilgrim center.
In medieval times, Gaya was part of the great Mughal Empire. According to legends, the name of this holy place is associated with Gaya, an asura (demon) devotee of Lord Vishnu, who once lived here. It is a major pilgrim center for Hindus, who come here mainly for conducting rites for departed souls. It is also believed that one, whose sraaddha (paternal rites) is done here, becomes absolved of all sin and ascends to Brahmaloka (heaven).