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An update from Evaneos

Gaya (India)

Practical information on Gaya

  • Place or Religious Monument
1 / 5 - 2 reviews
How to get there
6 hours by train from Benares and 11 hours from Delhi
When to go
From November to May
Minimum stay
One day

Reviews of Gaya

David Debrincat Seasoned Traveller
459 written opinions

Gaya, 12 km from Bodhgaya (the reason that tourists come to this part of the world), is a small town with a train station. Tourists and pilgrims flock to this place which is sacred to Buddhism.

My suggestion:
The visit of the Dalai Lama in January multiplies the population by 40. At this time, it is essential to book your accommodation well in advance.
My review

I went to Gaya during my round the world trip and I experienced one of the most difficult parts of my travels in India. The train times are totally crazy and regularly run up to 12 hours late. I came across one traveler who'd been waiting for his for 62 hours! I arrived in the middle of the night with no hotel reservation and the only place I could find to sleep was the freezing construction site for a guest-house. To avoid the same problems as I had, I advise you to book ahead.

At daybreak I saw that Gaya is hideous. But, since it's just a stop on the way to Bodhgaya, it doesn't really matter. 12 km further on and I felt like I'd gone from hell to heaven. Mahabodhi Temple is classed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is a calm, peaceful (a rare thing in India, which makes it even more attractive), and sacred place for Buddhists. It was here, under the sacred banyan tree, that Siddartha received enlightenment and became a Buddha. The ghastliness of Gaya is soon forgotten here.

Barber at Gaya Station
Julie Olagnol Seasoned Traveller
145 written opinions

To reach Bodhgaya, the birthplace of Buddhism, during your trip to India, you'll probably need to pass through Gaya, which is a three-hour bus ride from Patna, the capital of Bihar.

My suggestion:
Don't hang around in Bihar - the locals aren't welcoming, particularly in Patna, where I was left with a very bad memory of the time I spent there waiting for a bus.
My review

I only had a short stop at Gaya, whilst travelling from Patna to Bodhgaya and I suggest you do the same. Take care when travelling around Gaya, as petty crime is rife. It's best to arrive and leave during the day. 

Surprisingly, Gaya is an important pilgrimage site for Hindus! You can go and see the pink outside of the Vishnupad Temple, but foreigners are forbidden to enter.

It's best to head straight to Bodhgaya (at 13km from Gaya) and the Mahabodhi Temple, where the Nepalese Prince Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment. There's also a giant Buddha and Buddhist temples from other countries in the Southeast Asia.

Rural houses around Gaya, in Bihar