Once a demon known as Gayasura, did a heavy penance and sought a boon that whoever see 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 earth, Lord Vishnu's foot print remained on the surface that we see even today known as Dharmasila. 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 welfare of his departed and offer food, feeding Gayasura.
The construction date of temple covering the impression of Lord Vishnu's foot is unknown. The present day structure was rebuilt by Devi Ahalya Bai Holkar, the ruler of Indore, in 1787, on the banks of the Falgu River. The temple is made of black basalt stone and the top of the temple is decorated with Swarna Kalas (ewer shaped gold plated decoration) and a golden flag.
The Brahmkalpit Brahmans are the traditional priest of the temple from ancient time who is known as Gayawal Tirth Purohit or Panda. Several legendary saints as Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Ramakrishna have visited this shrine.
The 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu is imprinted in solid rock and surrounded by a silver plated basin. The height of this temple is 30 meters and it has 8 rows of beautifully carved pillars which support the pavilion. The temple is built of large gray granite blocks jointed with iron clamps. The octagonal shrine faces east. Its pyramidal tower rises up a 100 feet.
The tower has sloping sides with alternately indented and plain sections. The sections are set at an angle to create a series of peaks joined at the top. Within the temple stands the immortal banyan tree Akshayabat where the final rituals for the dead takes place. On top of the temple is a gold flag weighing approximately 51 kg.
There are many other small temples and constructions near the temple like Gadadhar Temple, Shankaracharya Mutt, Gayeswari Ahalya Bai Temple, Satyanarayan Temple and Suryakund.