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Vishnupad Temple – History

The Vishnupad Temple, located in Gaya, Bihar, India, is a revered Hindu temple dedicated to Bhagavan Vishnu, where the holy feet of Vishnu are worshipped. The temple has a rich history that spans centuries.

The original construction date of the temple remains unknown, shrouded in the mists of time, with history suggesting that Bhagavan Sri Rama and Sita visited the site during the Ramayana period. The present-day structure, however, was rebuilt by the illustrious Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in 1787. This reconstruction was a monumental effort, with Ahilyabai Holkar personally overseeing the project and sending her officers to find the best stone for the temple. After an extensive search, they chose munger black stone from Jaynagar, a town known for its quality stone.

The logistical challenges of transporting the stone to Gaya led the officers to discover a suitable mountain near Bathani, a small village in the Gaya district. Craftsmen from Rajasthan were brought in to carve the temple in Patharkatti, a village that eventually became a significant tourist destination in Bihar. Once the individual components were ready, they were assembled at the Vishnupad temple site in Gaya. While many craftsmen returned to their native places after the temple's completion, some chose to settle down in the Patharkatti village.

The Vishnupad Mandir is a striking structure, standing 30 meters tall with eight rows of beautifully carved pillars supporting the pavilion. Built with large gray granite blocks jointed with iron clamps, the octagonal shrine faces east. The temple's pyramidal tower rises to a height of 100 feet, featuring sloping sides with alternately indented and plain sections, creating a series of peaks joined at the top. Inside the temple, a 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock, surrounded by a silver-plated basin.

Within the temple premises, there is the immortal banyan tree known as Akshayavat, where the final rituals for the departed are performed. On top of the temple, a gold flag weighing approximately 51 kg proudly waves. Inside the temple, a silver-coated hexagonal railing, also known as "Garv ghiri" or "pahal," adds to the sacred ambiance.

The Vishnupad Temple stands as a testament to both ancient Hindu religion and the more recent historical efforts of Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, reflecting the enduring spiritual significance of the site in the hearts of devotees.