Gaya is of historical significance and is one of the major pilgrimage sites in the state of Bihar. Gaya is 100 kilometres south of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. The city is surrounded on three sides by small, rocky hills (Mangla-Gauri, Shringa-Sthan, Ram-Shila, and Brahmayoni), with the Phalgu River on its fourth (eastern) side.
Gaya is mentioned in the great epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is the place where Rama, with Sita and Lakshmana, came to offer pind-daan for their father, Dasharath, and continues to be a major Hindu pilgrimage site for the pind-daan ritual.
In Garuda Purana, while describing the holy place, Gaya, this story is narrated: There was a great demon named Gaya. Once, he performed severe austerities that began to scorch all living beings throughout the fourteen worlds. Being burnt by the demon’s austerities, the demigods approached Lord Vishnu.
Lord Vishnu assured the demigods that He would stop the demon’s austerities. Once day thereafter, Lord Vishnu picked some lotuses and presented them to Gaya for the worship of Lord Shiva. Being deluded by maya, the demon didn’t perform the worship but instead, lay down and slept. Being given this opportunity, Lord Vishnu killed the demon with His club. Ever since that time, Lord Vishnu has remained at that place (Gaya) with His club in His hand.