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Tourism in Bihar

Like in all ancient civilizations, the earliest human settlements in India sprung up around its magnificent rivers. Few rivers of the world have moulded the culture, economy and personality of the people dwelling on their banks as the river Ganga has. Cutting straight across Bihar from west to east, the bounteous Ganga nurtured a veritable fountainhead of political and cultural civilizations, on its shores, down the millennia.

Here, kingdom after kingdom rose and fell, leaving their indelible mark on history. Rival kings fought legendary battles, devastating the land and people. Yet, by some strange alchemy, the same land saw the birth of some of the most noble and progressive religious teachers like the Buddha, Mahavira and Guru Gobind Singh. Then came the Muslims, ruling with panache for five centuries, to be eliminated in turn, by the powerful British, who ruled till the middle of this century.

Bihar, today, is a quaint interface of the old and new. The state boasts of an incredible range of mineral resources. The coal belt in Bihar is the mainstay of thermal energy in India. Bihar's modern visage sports some of India's largest steel and mining industries.

What To See

Patna

An immensely fertile, arched stretch of land along the bank of the Ganga, the history and cultural heritage of modern day Patna, go back well over two millennia. Like Delhi, Patna too had been the regal seat of governance for successive kingdoms, since ancient times. With every significant change in the ancient political scenario, the city was renamed. Thus, Kusumpura metamorphosed through Pushpapura, Pataliputra, Azeemabad into the present day Patna. Patna is the capital of the state of Bihar.

Nalanda

Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous centre of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th - 12th centuries. The Chinese scholar and traveller Hiuen Tsang stayed here in the 7th century, and has left an elaborate description of the excellence, and purity of monastic life practised here. About 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world, lived and studied in this international university.

The Gupta kings patronised these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Kings Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most famous patrons, who built impressive temples and monasteries. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures. An international centre for Buddhist Studies was established in 1951. The Nalanda Museum and the Nava Nalanda Mahavihar are definitely worth a visit.

Lauria Areraj is a 11.5 m high Ashokan column, erected in 249 BC. The polished sandstone pillar has six edicts on it. Lauria Nandangarh is the site of the famous lion pillar, erected by king Ashoka. The 8.5 m polished sandstone column also has an edict engraved on it. The Nandangarh stupa, nearby, is believed to house the ashes of the Buddha.

Bodhgaya

The four most holy places associated with the Buddha are Lumbini, his birthplace, in Nepal; Sarnath, near Varanasi, where he preached his first message; Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur, where he died; and Bodhgaya, where he attained enlightenment. Bodhgaya is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. Apart from being a significant archaeological site, it is also a vital Buddhist centre.

Devout Buddhists and tourists from all over the world visit Bodhgaya, to study Buddhism and the art of meditation, or to simply absorb the aura of solemn grandeur that surrounds the place. Bodhgaya is a quiet and peaceful place. You could visit Bodhgaya in a day, or even plan a long study leave, depending on your inclination.

Wildlife in Bihar

Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary

107 km from Ranchi. The best time to visit is February - March and October-November.

Palamau Tiger Reserve

180 km from Ranchi, the Palamau Tiger Reserve is spread over an area of 1026 sq.km. Though the Koel river and its tributaries run through the reserve, the animals mostly depend on man-made water holes for their needs and as a result, they can be easily viewed. Leopards, tigers, elephants, the Indian wolf, gaur, sambar, munjtac and nilgai are some of the inhabitants of the reserve.
The nearest railhead is Daltonganj (25 km) and the nearest airport is at Ranchi (180 km).
The Tourist Lodge and Forest Rest Houses are available for accomodation.
Contact: Field Director, Project Tiger, Palamau Tiger Reserve, Daltonganj, Bihar - 822101.

Lawalong Wildlife Sanctuary

100 km from Gaya. The best time to visit is October-June.

Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary

10 km from Jamshedpur. The best time to visit is October-June.

Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary

102 km from Patna. The best time to visit is October-June.

Topchanchi Wildlife Sanctuary

100 km from Bettiah. The best time to visit is October-June.

Kabar Lake Bird Sanctuary

22 km from Begusarai. The best time to visit is November - March.

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