How perceptions change with experience: Brief visit to Gaya, Bihar

Although my 5th semester had kicked off, classes in our college weren’t regular. And that’s how I had a Eureka moment! “Why don’t I travel with my siblings?”.

The trip was planned between me, brother and my cousin sister. While we were zeroing down on the various choices of nearby cities or towns that we could explore within the span of two days, one of us came up with a sudden realization that we hadn’t explored Bihar till date! Since we had just two days with us, we consented upon exploring Gaya in Bihar.

Train tickets were booked, bags were packed and spirits were all raised!

On Friday, I rushed back home after a relatively hectic day at college, refreshed and was all set for the short weekend getaway! We took a cab to the New Delhi Railway Station and waited for our train to aboard. I believe, for me personally, this trip was a little more than just a weekend getaway.

Living in New Delhi, my perception about Bihar, as a state of India was mostly based on the things either I read or had heard from my friends and relatives when they narrated their experiences.

Somehow I believed there was more to Bihar than what met the eye and hence was keen to explore the state. I wanted my own experiences to be absolutely sure about my perceptions. And that’s exactly what I planned to do.

We boarded the train on Friday evening and reached Gaya the next morning. First things first, the Gaya Junction was surprisingly very neat; contrary to what people had warned us about! We were pleasantly taken aback when we spotted neat platforms and clean washrooms. We checked into our hotel room soon and got refreshed before hitting the streets in Gaya.

Vishnupad Temple, Gaya

With the limited time we had in hand our itinerary was already predefined. We had zeroed in on two places and began our exploration with the famous Vishnupad Temple.  We took an auto which took us through the narrow and winding lanes of Gaya which was an adventure in itself! I was in awe of the auto driver’s ability to drive fast yet carefully through the crowded lanes, zipping past people going about their daily chores because this wasn’t something new for them.

We entered the temple premises and marveled at the ancient structure. After having prayed, we were taken around by a temple priest who told us about the traditional stories attached with the temple. Needless to say, this was another reminder of how diverse and vast our Indian cultures and traditions are!

Image result for litti chokha in bihar

After the temple visit, we had the traditional Litti Chokha from a nearby dhaba. Trust me, the authentic taste of it can only be relished in Bihar and nowhere else!

In the evening we explored the highly sacred Koteshwarnath Temple, situated on the conflux of rivers Dargha and Morhar in Gaya. It is the abode of Sahashtra Shiva Linga. We were told by a guide that the temple’s sanctum is carved in a single piece of red stone. Besides the holy large Shiva Linga it also houses around 1,008 mini Shiva Lingas and dates back to more than 1200 years back. There is a legend too behind the construction of the large Shiva Linga.

Next, we hit the late evening streets in Gaya to do some shopping. What I observed was that the shopkeepers were genuinely pleasant people. Instead of arguing, they’d rather accept whatever their customer says and serve them to their satisfaction. We didn’t even realize how time went by and night had already set in. So we had our fill of varied street food which was really delicious. We got some Gur Anarsa and Tilkut packed too because both of them were totally lip-smacking. After all this we just had enough time to freshen up and repack our stuff before boarding late night Rajdhani Express same day. We were such an exhausted trio that we did not remember the next day when we had even slept off post boarding the train!

We woke up on Sunday morning just in time to eat the yummy breakfast served in Rajdhani.  Honestly speaking, this was one of the quickest ever weekend trip undertaken by me.

There is much more to explore in Gaya.  However, even the short stint revealed a rather uncommon side of Bihar, which was a great experience for all of us!

We are now looking forward to more such travel explorations and cover all parts of Bihar. So what about my perceptions? Isn’t it but obvious now!

– Aparajitha Nair (She is 3rd year journalism student at Delhi School of Journalism, University of Delhi. She is originally from Kerala, India.)

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