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Gorakhpur

Travel Guide Asia India Gorakhpur

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Introduction

Gorakhpur is situated on the eastern part of the state of Uttar Pradesh, close to the border with Nepal. It is often referred to as the Gateway to the exotic and beautiful terrain of Nepal as the border with Nepal is around 80 km from the city centre. Frequent buses are available from Gorakhpur to the Nepal border at Sonauli. Majority of tourists traveling from India to Nepal overland have to take this route.

Gorakhpur is famous as a religious and cultural centre as the city is home to a number of sacred sites associated with Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism and Sikhism. The city got its name from the famous medieval saint, Gorakshanath and Gorakhnath temple is still the seat of the Nath sect.

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Sights

Gorakhpur has a number of sights of religious and cultural importance. Some of the more famous ones are:

  • Gorakhnath Temple – This temple is situated around 4 kms from the city railway station on the Nepal road and is dedicated to the great yogi, Gorakhnath. It is one of the most prominent temples of the region. Every year during the month of January, “Makar Sankranti Mela” is held which attracts pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the country.
  • Vishnu Temple – This temple is dedicated to God Vishnu and has a large statue of Lord Vishnu made of black stone. Ram Lila is performed here during the Dusshera festival.
  • Arogya Mandir – This is a renowned centre for Naturopathy and patients come here for treatment of various ailments while staying close to nature.
  • Imambara –This was built by the great Sufi saint Roshan Ali Shah during the 18th Century. Every year during the Muslim month of Muharram “Tazia” processions are taken out from the Imambara.
  • Ramgarh Tal(Lake) –This is a huge natural lake near the city. There is an amusement park and a planetarium, apart from these number of other water sports activities are being developed to attract both the locals and the tourists.
  • Gita Press –This is situated in the Reti Chowk area of the city and it is centre of great cultural importance. All sorts of Hindu religious books and handloom textiles are sold here at subsidized rates.

The surroundings of Gorakhpur are rich in cultural and historical sights. Some of the places which are worth visiting and are close to Gorakhpur are:

  • Kushinagar –This is situated around 50 kms from Gorakhpur and is an important international tourist centre, closely associated with Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is the place where Buddha breathed his last and achieved Mahaparinirvana(salvation) and was cremated here.
  • Lumbini –Lumbini is the birth place of Lord Buddha and it is situated in Nepal around 124 km from Gorakhpur. A temple dedicated to Lord Buddha’s mother Mahamaya and an Ashokan pillar with inscriptions in Prakit, can also be found here.
  • Kapilavastu –This place is around 95 kms from Gorakhpur and is believed to be the place where Lord Buddha spent 29 years of his early life. There is a big stupa from where precious relics of Lord Buddha have been discovered during excavations.
  • Pawa Nagar –Situated around 70 km from Gorakhpur, this is the place where Lord Mahavira, 24 Thirthankaras of Jains attained salvation or nirvana.
  • Maghar –Situated around 25 kms from Gorakhpur, this is the place where the great saint and social reformer of the medieval period Sant Kabir Das breathed his last. A temple and a mosque stand close by to the place where he was cremated as a symbol of communal harmony.
  • Chauri Chaura –Chauri chaura or Shaheed smarak is around 25 kms from Gorakhpur and is the place where in 1922, a mob of around 2000 people torched a police station killing 19 of them. This violent incident forced Gandhiji to suspend the Non Cooperation Movement which was started in 1920

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Weather

Gorakhpur has a climate which is typical of most parts of North India. Summers are hot (April to June) with temperature exceeding 40 degree C on many occasions. Rainfall is heavy from July to September and the winter season (November to February) experience moderate temperature. The best time to visit Gorakhpur is during the winter season (Nov-Feb) when the temperature is moderate and there is hardly any rain.

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Getting There

By Plane

Gorakhpur has an airport which is situated 6kms from the city centre. There are only few flights available presently to Delhi and Kolkata, which may go up considering the strategic location of Gorakhpur and being an excellent base for exploring the sacred Buddhist sites and also serving as a Gateway to Nepal.

By Train

Gorakhpur is well connected by rail network to rest of India. Direct trains are available for most of the major cities of India. The railway station at Gorakhpur is a huge and modern one with the entire range of passenger amenities available. Indian Railways operates the rail network in India.

By Bus

State Transport buses are available to other cities of the state but the journey can be tiring and time consuming.

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Getting Around

Unfortunately the public transport is not yet developed in the city. Metro, trams and city buses are still at planning stage. The most common mode of transport in the city is the cycle rickshaw, though auto rickshaw and taxis are increasingly being used now.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There's good coverage over most of India for Internet cafes. However, following the recent terror attacks in Mumbai and some other cities, all internet cafes have been instructed by the authorities to maintain a register and note down the identification details of all persons using internet. Sify iWay is a reliable and cheap cafe with over 1,600 cafes over India. iWay also allows you to open a pre-paid account that you can use all over India. Whenever you have Internet access probably the best and cheapest way to call family and friends at home is software that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet such as Skype.

Wifi hotspots in India are, for most part, limited. The major airports and stations do offer paid wifi at around RS.60-100 an hour. Delhi, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai are the only cities with decent wifi coverage. At Mumbai airport, you get to use WiFi internet free, for an hour or so.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The country code for India is 91. To dial outside the country from India, prefix the country code with 00.

The general emergency number is 100 (emergency response police & fire), while for ambulance you should dial 102 or 112, though some regions have 108 for this emergency. 108 is used in in the Indian states of Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Kerala, Odisha,Assam, Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. 108 can be called for medical, crime, fire, or any other emergency from any phone.

Local phone numbers can be anywhere from 5-8 digits long. But when the area code is included, all landline phone numbers in India are 10 digits long. Cellphone numbers usually start with '9', '8', or '7'. Toll-free numbers start with 1-800.

If staying longterm it is probably wise to think about investing in a mobile phone. You'll possibly need to provide a photocopy of your passport and itinerary, so come prepared. Make sure you arrange it upon arrival in a big city, as it can sometimes be difficult to organise with language barriers and such in more regional areas. You can buy a cheap nokia for about RS.1,200 with a pre-paid plan. Airtel is a good carrier to think about as they have great coverage, and constant offers for cheaper calling. To recharge, most shop vendors with phone carrier signs can do it via their own phone. You give them your mobile number, they put it in their phone and you'll both get messages as to whether or not the recharge has been successful. Also, if possible, buy the phone in the state where you do the most travelling as the charges are higher in the states where you did not originally buy the phone.

Over the entire country there are plenty of public phones, even in the middle of the countryside. Although most of the time these phones are not very well maintained and have horrible connections. Therefore remember when using one of these public phones one must be extremely patient.
For international calls from payphones, you'll have to visit a reputable internet cafe with a phone-booth. Mobile phones are usually a better and cheaper option.

Post

India Post is the national postal service of India, and on their website you find details about prices to send postcards, letters and parcels, both domestically and internationally. For most postcards to send internationally, it is better to visit the post office before writing on the card as you may need quite a few stamps. Parcels must be taken to a tailor, he will then sew it up in white linen. Make sure he seals it with red wax, otherwise the post office may refuse to send it or try to get you to pay them to do it. Sewing up a parcel should only cost RS.50 to 200. In general, post offices are open from 10:00am to 1:00pm and 1:30pm to 4:30pm in most bigger towns and cities, though there are regional variations and some might keep longer hours or be open during (part of) the weekend as well. Ask around.

If you want to send bigger packages/parcels, it might be better, faster and sometimes even cheaper, to contact a private company like DHL, TNT or UPS.

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This is version 4. Last edited at 13:42 on Feb 5, 14 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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