Vishnupad Temple ( विष्णुपद मंदिर, Viṣṇupada Mandira, . ’temple of Vishnu’s feet), is one of the ancient and most famous Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is located in Gaya, Bihar, India on the bank of the river Phalgu, marked by a footprint of Lord Vishnu known as Dharmasila, incised into a block of basalt. Atop the structure is a 50-kilo gold flag, donated by a devotee, Gayapal Panda Bal Govind Sen.
The Vishnupad temple is the center for Shraddha rites in Gaya.
The Brahma Kalpit Brahmins, who are also known as Gayawal Brahmins or Gayawal Tirth Purohit or Pandas of Gaya are the traditional priests of the temple from ancient times. The legendary saints Madhvacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Vallabhacharya have visited this shrine.
Once a demon known as Gayasura did a heavy penance and sought a boon that whoever sees 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 the earth, Lord Vishnu’s footprint 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 the welfare of his departed and offer food, feeding Gayasura.