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Bihar Travel Guide

Since the inception of its history which dates back to 500 year ago Bihar has been recognized on cradle of movements in the field of art, culture and religion literature & human rights a postles of peace Lord Buddha, Mahavir, Great Guru Govind Singh and Mahatma Gandhi and great sufie saint further heighened with the visit of great chinese tourist Fahien, who has distinctly narrated the attaintments of the University at that time took birth on this land. It is the land on which the earliest seeds of democracy took roots and however hossemed into the form of governence with the advent of Lord, it withessed a cultural renaissance as in the preachings of the Lord Buddha was seen the right answer to the woos & suffering of the rest humanity at the hands of loot, tyranny & boilance. People embraced Buddhism and the echest holiest sermon Buddham Saranam Gachhami sent the air reached beyond the boundaries of our country and seat of leaning at Nalanda, where students outside the boundaries of our country joined the course got acknowledged the world over. Lord Buddha delivered his preachings at this place of learning. The glory of Nalanda gate.

Bihar has basked in the glory of Magadh Empire in the period of Mauryans, Guptas and Pal, Vikramshila University, whose ruins speak of best as this glorious deat of learning was constructed during Pal dynasty.

The state of Bihar lies along the eastern Gangetic Plains in North India, A land that has been the passing of many dynasties of ancient India, Bihar has also been the birth place of two treat theologies -Buddhism and Jainism. As a place of pilgrimage for centuries, even the name Bihar is desired from 'Vihar' as a Buddhist monasteries, Reflecting its ancient history, Bihar has some of the finest monuments of Hindu and Mughal architecture. And through the state flows the majestic river Ganga a saga of events of centuries old civilization. The scenery and climate of the State range from the foot hills of Himalayas, over the vast and fertile plains of the Ganga to the hills, forests and wide plateau. The land and people, fairs and festivals, arts and crafts, flora and fauna of Bihar, are all epitomes of diversity, which enchant and thrill tourists.

Bihar offers to tourists a variegated wealth of Indian Civilization, history and culture compled with enqeuisite scenic beauties and wild life within its precinet are located, places like Rajgir and Patliputra, ancient capital of mighty magadhan empire, Vaishali-the first republican state the world; Bodhgaya where lord Buddha attained the suprime enlightenment, Nalanda-the great seat of international learning and Patna Saheb-the birth place of Guru Govind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikh.

BodhGaya

Serene and quiet this tiny little village, holiest among holy places is Bodhgaya, Where the quest of Prince Siddharth was fulfilled after years of seeking the truth and the saga of Buddha began. He attained the supreme enlightenment and became 'The Buddha', the enlightened one. Thus Buddhism was born here under the Peepal Tree. The Prince had been wandering in search of supreme peace for long six years hither and thither. But it was at Bodhgaya only where his holy mission was achieved. Bodhgaya has naturally developed into the most sacred spot for Buddhists from all over the world, especially the affluent south East Asia.

Lying in sylvan solitude this sacred place is situated on the bank of river Niranjana (Modern Falgu). It is 13 km. from Gaya town. Gaya is an important Centre of 'Hindu Pilgrimage' where people go to offer oblations for the salvation of their dead forefathers.

The Bodhi Tree

At the western side of the Mahabodhi Stupa in Bodhgaya stands the large and historic Bodhi Tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha, then known as Gautama, attained enlightenment some 2540 years ago.

Gautama, had been practicing austerities for six years in the area of the Niranjana River near Bodhgaya. Finally understanding that this could not lead to realisation, he abandoned his austerities and in the nearby village of Senani (now also known as Sujata) the Brahmin girl Sujata offered him milk-rice. Strengthened by this, he took some kusha grass for a mat and sat under the pipal tree facing east. He resolved not to rise until he attained enlightenment.

Mahabodhi Temple

The Mahabodhi Temple stands east to the Bodhi Tree. Its architectural effect is superb. its basement is 48 square feet and it rises in the form of a slender Pyramid, till it reaches its neck, which is cylindrical in shape. The total height of the temple is 170 feet and on the top of the temple are Chatras which symbolise sovereignty of religion. Four towers on its four corners rise gracefully giving the holy sturcture a poise and balance.

Vajrasana

Vajrasana, the seat of stability. The Buddha supposed to have say in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi tree, where the Vajrasana, the stone platform is kept.

Ancient Railings

The ancient railings which surround the temple are of first cintury BC and are very interesting monuments of the country.

Chankaramana

This marks the sacred spot of the Buddha's meditative perambulation during the third week after pious enlightenment. It is believed that wherever the Buddha put his feet lotus sprang up.

Animeshlochana

It is belived that the Buddha spent one week here looking towards the treat Mahabodhi Tree out of gratitude, without twinkling his eyes.

Ratnagar

The Buddha spent one week here, where it is believed that five colours came out of his body.

Lotus Tank

The sacred tank where it is believed that Buddha had spent one week.

Gaya

13 km. from Bodhgaya, Gaya is a very sacred pilgrim centre for Hindus. Hindus offer oblation for salvation of their dead parents and forefathers. The temple of Vishnupad on the bank of river Falgu attracts a very large number of pilgrims.

Barabar Cave

The Barabar and Nagarjuni Hills are situated about 41 km. from Bodhgaya (25 kms north of Gaya) and contain, in all, seven rock-cut caves of which four are in the Barabar hills. Barabar Caves is an important achaeological site. The caves carved out from solid rocks bear details of the life of Buddha.

Other Places of Interest

Tibetan Monastery, Thai Monastery, Myanmar Monastery, Chinese Monastery, Bhutanese Monastery, Japanese Monastery and Sri Lankan Monastery etc.

Where to Stay

There are two bungalows-- Hotel sidhartha Vihar and Hotal Buddha Vihar of Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation. Other private hotels are also available.

Rajgir

The Buddha lived in the sixth century BC. Mahavir was born in 567 BC and the traveller in Bihar will encounter them both constantly. Rajgir is 10km south of Nalanda and sacred to the memory of the founder of both Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months of retreat during the rainy season here, and used to meditate and preach on Griddhkuta, the 'Hill of the Vultures'. Lord Mahavir spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda. It was in Rajgriha that Lord Buddha delivered some of his famous sermons and converted king Bimbisara of the Magasha Kingdom and countless others to his creed. Once a great city, Rajgir is just a village today, but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain, like the cyclopean wall that encircles the town and the marks engraved in rock that local folklore ascribes to Lord Krishna's chariot. This legend, like many others associates Rajgir to that distant time when the stirring events recorded in the epic Mahabharata were being enacted.
Rajgir is located in a verdant valley surrounded by rocky hills.

Amaravana or Jivaka's Mango Garden

Site of the Royal Physician's dispensary where the Lord Buddha was once brought to have wound dressed by Jivaka, the royal physician during the reign of Ajatashatru and Bimbisara.

Venuvana

Site of the monastery Venuvana Vihar built by king Bimbisara for Lord Buddha to reside. This was the King's first offering to Lord Buddha.

Ajatashatru's Fort

Built by Ajatashatru (6th century B.C.), the king of Magadha during the Buddha's time. The 6.5 sq. metre Ajatashatru's Stupa is also believed to have been built by him.

Bimbisara's Jail

King Bimbisara was imprisoned here by his impatient son and heir, Ajatashatru. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration.

Swarna Bhandar

Two rather strange cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers is believed to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; this 'doorway' is supposed to lead to king Bimbisara treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhalipi or shell script, etched into the wall and so far undeciphered, are believed to give the clue to open the doorway.

The Cyclopean Wall

Once 40 km. long, it encircled ancient Rajgir. Built of massive undressed stone carefully fitted together, the wall is one of the few important pre-Mauryan stone structures ever to have been found. Trace of the wall still subsist, particularly at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya.

Griddhakuta or Vulture's Peak

This was the place where the Lord Buddha set in motion his second wheel of Law and for three months every year during the rainy season,preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples.

Jain Temples

On hill crests around Rajgir, far in the distances one can see about 26 Jain temples. They are difficult to approach for the untrained, but make exciting trekking for those in form.

Hot Springs

At the foot of the Vaibhava Hill. A staircase leads up to the various temples. Separate bathing places have been organised for men and women and the water comes through spouts from Saptdhara, the seven streams, believed to find their source behind the "Saptaparni Caves", up in the hills. The hottest of the springs is the Brahmakund with a temperature of 450C.

Pippala Cave

Above the hot springs on the Vaibhava Hill, is a rectangular stone sculpted by the forces of nature which appears to have been used as a watch tower.

Other Places of Interest

Other archaeological sites including the Karnada Tank where Lord Buddha used to bathe, the Maniyar Math that dates from the 1st century AD, the Maraka Kukshi where the still unborn Ajatashatru was cursed as a patricide, the Rannbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh fought one of the Mahabharat battles. The Chariot Route and shell inscriptions are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon, two parallel furrows cut deep into the rock for about thifty feet giving credence to the local belief that they were "burnt" into the rock by the speed and power of Lord Krishna's chariot when he entered the city of Rajgir during the epic Mahabharata times. Several shell inscriptions, the undeciphered characters current in central and eastern India from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD, are engraved in the rock around the chariot marks. Virayatan--a Jain temple and Museum.

Where to stay

There are a number of moderately priced hotels availalbe in Rajgir.

Nalanda

Nalanda, where ruins of the great ancient university have been excavated, is situated at a distance of 90 km. south east of Patna by road. It falls on way to Rajgir. It is also linked by rail with Patna, Rajgir and Bakhtiyarpur (on Delhi-Howrah main track).

Hieun Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveller of the seventh century, says that according to tradition the place owed its name to a Naga of the same name which resided in a local tank. But he thinks it more probable that Lord Buddha, in one of his previous births as Bodhisatwa, became a king with his capital at this place and that his liberality won for him and his capital the name Nalanda or "Charity without intermission". The third theory about the name of the place is that it derived from Nalam plus da. Nalam means lotus which is a symbol for knowledge and Da means given the place had many lotuses.

Nalanda has a very ancient history. It was frequently visited by Lord Vardhamana Mahavir and Lord Buddha in the 6th century BC. during his sajourns, the Lord Buddha found this place prosperous, swelling, teeming with population and containing mango-groves. It is also supposed to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of the Chief disciple of the Lord Buddha.

The University of Nalanda was founded in the 5th century by the Gupta emperors. There were thousands of students and teachers. The courses of study included scriptures of Buddhism (both Mahayana and Hinayana Schools), Vedas, Hetu Vidya (Logic), Shabda Vidya (grammar), Chikitsa vidya (medicine) etc. The university received royal patronage of the great emperor Harshavardhana of Kannauj and also pala kings.It was a great centre of learning and students from foreign centre of learning and students from foreign countries were also attracted to this university.

The Nalanda University Archaeological Complex

The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes south to north, the monasteries or "Viharas" are east of this central alley and the temples of "Chaiyas" to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around a central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha.

The enormous pyramidal mass of the Temple No.3 is impressive and from its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas, many of which are studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in various poses or 'Mudras'.

The Nalanda Archaeological Museum

Opposite the entrance to the ruins of the university and houses, it has a small but beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and a number of undamaged statues of the Lord Buddha that were found in the area. Two enormous terracotta Jars of the first century stand intact behind the museum in a shaded enclosure. The collection includes copper plates and stone inscriptions, coins, pottery and samples of burnt rice (12th century AD) found among the ruins here. Open during 10.00 to 17.00 hours. Closed on Friday.

Nava Nalanda Mahavihara

Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and research in Pali Literature and Buddhism. This is a new institute, where students from foreign countries also study.

Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall

A new construcion in memory of the great Chinese traveller, Hieun Tsang.

Other Places of Interest

Silao
In between Nalanda and Rajgir, there is a village namely Silao, where a very popular local sweet "Khaja" is prepared

Surajpur Baragaon
The lake with its temple to Surya, the Sun god, is a pilgrim destination twice a year in 'Vaishakha' (April-May) and in "Kartika" (October-November), during the Chhath Puja or sun Worship.

Where to Stay

Tourists prefer to stay at Rajgir 15 Kms from Nalanda. There are a number of moderately piced hotels availalbe in Rajgir.

Patna

Beneath the din and bustle of Patna, the capital of Bihar state, has a fascinating past. And in each chapter of its history, it has been crowned by a new name- Kusumpur, Pushpapur, Pataliputra and Azeemabad.

Turning over the pages of early Indian history one comes across the name of the pre-eminent city of Pataliputra. Located at the site where Patna is today, this city saw the rise and fall of India's first major kingdoms. Its Period of glory spanned a thousand years, from 6th century B.C. to 5th century A.D. Ajastshatru, second in the line of Magadh Kings, built a fort at Pataligram on the bank of river Ganga. This later became famous mauryan metropolis of Pataliputra and was ruled by Chandragupta Maurya (a contemporary of Alexander) and his grandson Ashok, acclaimed for the spread of Buddism. Other emperors who ruled from Pataliputra were the Gupta and Pala Kings, Shershah Suri (16th Century) and Azimush-Shan (18th Century) grandson of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who renamed it Azeemabad. Vestiges of this ancient city can be seen at Kumhrar, Bhikhnapahari, Agamkuan, Bulandi Bag etc.

Today Patna, the capital of the State of Bihar, is an important business centre of eastern India. More significantly, it is a gateway to the Buddhist and Jain pilgrim centres of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya and Pawapuri.

GolGhar

This huge and impressive beehive-shaped structure was constructed in July 1786 by Captain John Garstin following a terrible famine in 1770, to serve as a state granary. A flight of steps winds round this 29m high building to the top from where one gets a fine view of the river Ganga and Patna city.

Museum

It contains metal and stone sculptures of the Maurya and Gupta Periods, terracota figurines and archaeological finds from different sites in Bihar. Among its prized exhibit are Ashes of the Buddha, image of Yakshi (3rd century B. C.), and a 16 metre long fossilized tree.

Harmandirji

This shrine consecrates the birthplace of the tenth religious preceptor of the Sikh faith, Guru Gobind Singh. Originally built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a ruler of Punjab, Harmandirji is one of the holiest Sikh shrines. Standing in the Chowk area of Old Patna, this dome-dhaped structure contains Sikh scriptures and the personal belongings of the guru.

Khuda Baksh Oriental Library

Set up at the turn of the century, the library has a distinguished collection of rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Rajput and Mughal paintings and oddities like an inch wide Quran. It also contains the only books rescued from the plunder of the University of Cordoba in Spain. It is one of the national libraries of India.

Kumhrar

Kumrahar, site of the ancient city of Pataliputra, lies 5 km. from Patna Railway Station on the Kankarbagh Road. Excavations here have revealed relics of four continuous periods from 600 BC to 600 AD. The fifth period begins from 1600 AD. An important find is the 80-pillared huge hall of the Mauryan dynasty.

Martyrs Memorial

Life-size statues in front of the old secretariat compound have been put up in memory of seven brave young men who faced bullets for the freedom of the country and sacrificed their lives in August 1942 in the historic struggle for India's independence during "Quit India" movement.

Jalan Museum

Constructed at the site of Sher Shad's fort, it preserves a rich private collection of jade, Chinese paintings and silver filigree work of the Mughal period. The museum can be visited only with prior permission, since it is a private collection.

Pathar Ki Masjid

Situated on the bank of river Ganga, this mosque is known variously as Saif Khan's mosque, Chimni Ghat mosque or Sangi Masjid. It was built by Parwaz Shah, son of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, during his tenure as governor of Bihar.

Agam Kuan

Agam Kuan (Unfathomable well) is one of the most important early historic archaeological remains in Patna. It is situated just close to the Gulzarbagh Railway Station, which is proposed to be associated with the Mauryan Emperor Ashok.

Other Places of Interest

Biological Park, Bihar Institute of Handicrafts and Designs, Birla Mandir, Nawab Shahid-Ka-Maqbara, Pachim Darwaza and Padri-Ki-Haveli.

Excursions

Some centuries ago it was situated on the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Son, and river Saryu joined it from the north. The remains of an old time fortress on the bank of the channel of the Son reminds one that Maner was a strategic point in ancient times. It appears as if it were the western gate of Patliputra in the Mauryan times. It is famous for its Bari and Choti Dargah, sacred to the memory of the Sufi Saint Hazrat Makhdoom yahya Maneri of the 13th century.

Where to Stay

One can stay in Western style air conditioned and non-air conditioned hotels. There are also a number of moderately priced hotels around the railway station and the airlines office.

Vaishali

Vaishali has a past that pre-dates recorded history. It is held that the town derives its name from King Vishal, whose heroic deeds are narrated in the Hindu epic Ramayana. However, history records that around the time Pataliputra was the centre of political activity in the Gangetic plains, Vaishali came into existence as centre of the Ganga, it was the seat of the Republic of Vajji. Vaishali is credited with being the World's First Republic to have a duly elected assembly of representatives and efficient administration.

The Lord Buddha visited Vaishali more than once during his lifetime and announced his approaching Mahaparinirvana to the great followers he had here.

Hundred years after he attained Mahaparinirvana, it was the venue of the second Buddhist Council. According to one belief, the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir was born at Vaishali. The Chinese travellers Fa-Hien and Hieun Tsang also visited this place in early 5th and 7th centuries respectively and wrote about Vaishali.

Ashokan Pillar

The Lion Pillar at kolhua, was built by Emperor Ashoka. It is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, surmounted by bell shaped capital, 18.3m. high. A life-size figure of a lion is placed on top of the pillar. There is a small tank here known as Ramkund.

Bawan Pokhar Temple

An old temple built in the Pala period stands on the northern bank of a tank known as Bawan Pokhar and enshrines beautiful images of several Hindu gods.

Buddha Stupa-I

The exterior of this stupa which is now in a dilapidated condition has a plain surface. One-eighth of the sacred ashes of the Lord Buddha were enshrined here in a stone casket.

Buddha Stupa-II

Excavation at this site in 1958 led to the discovery of another casket containing the ashes of the Lord Buddha.

Raja Vishal ka Garh

A huge mound with a circumference about one Kilometre and walls nearly 2m. high with a 43m. wide moat around them, is said to be the ancient Parliament house. Over seven thousand representatives of the federal assembly gathered here to legislate and discuss the problems of the day.

Shanti Stupa

On the south bank of the Coronation Tank built by Buddh Vehar Society.

Kundupur (Birth place of Lord Mahavira)

4km. It is believed that the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir was born over 2550 years ago. Mahavir is said to have spent the first 22 years of his life here.

Coronation Tank

Coronation Tank or Abhishekh Pushkarni, Its water were believed to be sacred in the old days and all of Vaishali's elected representatives were anointed here before their swearing in.

Other Places of Interest

Chaumukhi Mahadeva, Harikatora Temple, Lotus Tank and Miranji-Ki-Dargah, Jain Temple etc.

Where to stay

Moderate accommodation is available in Tourist Bunglow and Tourist Youth Hostel.

Pawapuri

Pawapuri, which is also known as, Apapuri, the sinless town, is a very sacred Jain Pilgrimage center. It was here that Lord Mahavira, the greatest profounder of jainism, attained salvation. Hundreds and thousands of his disciples and devotees took away the ashes after his cremation here. The rush was so great that even the soil of the areas were taken away and it became a tank. Later on a beautiful temple of white marble was constructed in the center of the tank to consecrate the Lord's Nirvan. It is now known Jalmandir.

Jalmandir

The place where Mahavir Teerthankar was cremated.

Samosharan

A beautiful temple of white marble. Here Lord Mahavir had delivered his sermon.

Where to stay

Dharmsala at Pawapuri and Private run hotels at Biharsharif are available.

Lauria NandanGarh

village in the Bettiah Sub-division, about 24 Kms north-west of Bettiah, which contains some of the most interesting remains of huge stupa called Nandangarh. This 26 metre high ancient sepulchral mound is composed of bricks and is conjectured to be Ashes stupa, the stupa in which ashes of the Lord Buddha were enshrined.

At Lauria Nandangarh, less than half a Km to the east of the village, stands the famous pillar of Ashoka - a single block of polished sandstone of 32 ft and 9 1/2 inches in height and with a diameter of 35.5 inches at base and of 26.21 inches at top. The capital, which is 6 ft 20 inches in height, is bell shaped with a circular abacus supporting the statue of a lion. The abacus is ornamented with a row of Brahmi geese packing their food. The column has a light and elegant appearance and is altogether a much more pleasing monument than the shorter and stature pillar of Bakhra.The pillar is inscribed with the edict of Ashoka in the some clear and beautifully cut characters as those of Areraj pillar. The lion has been injured in the month and the column itself bears the road mark of alanon short just below the capital which has itself been slightly dislodged by the stock.

The pillar is much thinner and much lighter than those of Bakhra and Areraj. The weight of the polished portion of its shaft is only 18 tons or rather less than half that of the Bakhra pillar and some what more than half of the Areraj pillar.

Lauria Areraj

31 kms noth-west of Motihari, in Lauria Areraj, emperor Ashoka erected one of his stone columns and inscribed it with his edicts. Erected in 249 B.C. , this 11.5 metre high lofty stone pillar, bears six of his edicts and has been created out of a single block of polished sandstone.

Where to Stay

Private hotels, Dharamshalas available on moderate charges at Bettiah.

Kesaria

Two miles to the south stands a lofty brick mound copped by a solid brick tower of considerable size, which itself is a remains of a Buddhist stupa. The mound itself is a ruined man of solid brick work 62 ft in height and 1400 ft in circumference at its base which the stupa which is in ruins has a diameter of 68 ft at its base and a total height of 52 1/2 ft. originally it was crowned by pinnacle which must have stood 80 or 90 ft. high or including the ruined basement not less than 150 ft. above the ground. General cunningham was of opinion that it dates back to AD 200 to 700 and that it was built upon the ruins of a much older and larger stupa. This ancient monument is known to the people as the deora of Raja Ben preserves the story recorded by Hiuen Tsiang, according to whose account this sputa was referred to a Chakaravarty Raja by the Buddhist of the 7th Century.

This stupa is in fact one of the many memorial stupas built by the Buddhists at places connected with some remarkable event in the life of Buddha.

Where to Stay

Private hotels, Dharamshalas available at Motihari on moderate charges and at Hotel Likshwi Vihara in Muzaffarpur.

Vikramshila

Remains of the ancient Vikramshila University have been excavated at village Antichak in the Bhagalpur district.

Excavation at this site were done in 1960-61 and have disclosed different periods of habitation. The natural structures exposed and the anfiquites discovered reiterate that the site was probably the remains of a large monestery. A number Buddha images of stone and terracottas have been discovered. Some inscribed seals and stupas have also been found.

King Dharampala who founded the University had generously endowed it with his minificent grants. The University building made provisions for the maintenance of 108 residential Professors and also for a number of non-residential Professors, pilgrims and other members of the staff. A big Vihara (monastery) was constructed in the university quarters and it was profected by strong wells. In the centre there was a big Buddhist temple, surrounded by 108 smaller temples.

The affairs of the University were entrusted by king Dharampala to one very eminent and learned scholar who was also highly religious. The controlling authority which administrate the affairs of the Vikramshila University also looked after the Nalanda University.

Where to Stay

Private hotels, Dharamshalas available at Motihari on moderate charges and at Hotel Likshwi Vihara in Muzaffarpur.

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