Gaya is a major pilgrimage city in Bihar for Hindus and Buddhists. It is visited for doing Pind Dan (funeral offerings for the benefit of the soul of the deceased) and for visiting Bodhgaya and Vishnupad temple.
Gaya is a ritual place and it is famous for Pind daan. People from all over the world comes here to perform pind daan puja for their passed ancestors. This pinddaan puja brings peace to the soul. Most of the people come here in the months of monsoon (September - October) for the 'Pitrapaksh Tarpan' (Prayers offered for the dead). The pilgrims take a dip in the seasonal holy river 'Phalgu' during this season. There is gathering of people for 2 weeks here for Pitripaksha Mela and perform the rituals of pind daan for their departed family members. These rituals brings peace to the wandering souls. Devotees not only from india but arond the world come here and participate in huge numbers.
"Gaya is a picturesque city surrounded by temple-crowned hills… It is a place of great sanctity and a very important place for pilgrimage, the central point of which is the Vishnupad temple that enshrines a footprint of Vishnu. The temple was built in the 18th century by the Maratha princess Ahliyabai.The hills around the city are also places of sanctity. The highest is that of Brahmayoni, which rises precipitately to a height of 450 feet above the plain. Six miles south of Gaya is the great temple of Bodh Gaya, one of the holiest places in the world, and the most sacred of all places to the Buddhists.These (Barabar) hills are 6-8 miles east of Bela railway station, the second railway station on the way to Patna… This is the site of the ancient Silabhadra monaster. On a low ridge of granite in the southern corner of the valley are the famous Barabar caves. The reader of E.M.Forster’s book A Passage to India will recall the incident of which the scene is one of these caves." - Sir John Houlton in Bihar the Heart of India
Now a days it is an ordinary district headquarter of India and bears a polluted, not so clean and dusty look though it still draws thousands of Hindu pilgrims as a pilgrimage and place for a compulsory pindadaan( funeral offerings to the deceased) for Hindus. Vishnupad Temple is the main draw which was constructed by famous Maratha princess Ahalyabayi of Holkar Dynasty of Gwalior in seventeenth century in place of old dilapidated temple.
Gaya is well connected through air, rail and road. Bodhgaya is the nearest airport, which offers International flight for Buddhist countries like Thailand, Mayanmar, Japan. The second option is Patna, which is 125 km away and well connected by rail and road service. There are lots of train dirctly from Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.
You can easily visit Gaya by car. There are many car rental companies available. Nalanda Travels provides cabs on rent for Rajgir, Nalanda, Patna, Vaishali,Varansai.
Fares starting from 700 for within city and Rs.7/km for outstation.