The land where the Buddha once lived, a land of monasteries – Bihar is visited by a considerable number of Buddhist followers as well as tourists of other faiths all through the year. Its association with Buddhism and Jainism makes it a must visit place for peace seekers, people who would like to get a feel of the tribal culture and experience life in the rural parts of India, and those who would like to get a glimpse of our glorious past.
Derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Vihara’, which means monastery, Bihar has a glorious heritage in the context of Indian history. Bihar is located in the eastern parts of India situated in the Gangetic plains, and it shares its borders with Uttar Pradesh in the West, Jharkhand in the South, West Bengal in the east, and Nepal in the North. The spiritual importance of Bihar comes from the fact that it is the place where the Buddha once lived and attained Nirvana. His footsteps can be traced through his teachings and the monuments which stand tall to this day, serving to guide people and show them the right
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“The cradle of Empires”
Prospering along the southern banks of river Ganges and set in the backdrop of a glorious historical past, Patna boasts of a dominating presence in history and enjoys the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in the world. In addition to being one of the major and most popular tourist destinations in India, this capital city of Bihar also holds significant religious and spiritual importance as it is a gateway to pilgrimage sites of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists.
Originally called as Pataliputra, Patna is currently a hot-bed for the culminating political fortunes. One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, it is the quintessential North Indian town – West of the city lies the area called Bankipur, while towards the southwest is the new area with wide roads and swanky buildings. The cultural heritage of Bihar is reflected in the many monuments housed in Patna, the most famous ones being Patna Sahib Gurudwara, Patna Planetarium, the Highcourt, Golghar, Secretariat Building and Padri ki Haveli among numerous other attractions. Typical of an Indian city, the riverside city of Patna is also known for some palatable dishes – litti chokha being the king of all!
Bodh Gaya Tourism
“Buddha, Mahabodhi Tree and the land of Nirvana“
Bodh Gaya is a Buddhist pilgrimage site in Gaya District of Bihar. Famous for the Mahabodhi Temple, It was here under the Bodhi tree that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment.
It is now one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a lot of foreign countries, including Japan and China, have helped the Indian government in building facilities for the Buddhist pilgrims. The place is bustling with pilgrims all through the year from India and abroad who come to pay their homage in monasteries, temples and remnants of Bodhi Tree.
Located near the river Neranjana, Bodh Gaya was earlier known as Uruwela. It was also known as Sambodhi, Vajrasana or Mahabodhi until the 18th century CE. It is one of the four important Buddhist sites that include: Kushinagar, Lumbini and Sarnath.
“The Ancient Seat of Knowledge”
The most popular Mahavihara of the ancient times, a significant Buddhist seat of academic excellence and a modest pilgrim center, all wrapped in a wisp of spirituality, Nalanda continues to be an equally enriching location in the present. It offers vibrant substance of spirituality, history, culture, architecture, and tourism.
This city houses one of the world’s oldest and finest residential universities which itself was an architectural masterpiece. Although in ruins, the entire complex presents a pretty picture and is flocked by tourists day in and day out. It has “viharas” or monasteries to the east and “chaiyas” or temples to the west. In addition to this, the complex houses a charming little museum, which has a collection of several of original Buddhist stupas, Hindu and Buddhist bronzes, coins, terracotta jars, a sample of burnt rice etc. The district is believed to be a cradle of religions. Apart from Buddhism, it is an important center for Jainism, Hinduism, and Sufism as well. Considering the rich heritage and the historical importance, it is a hot tourist destination.
Located in the interiors of Bihar, Vaishali is a small district which is also a revered Hindu, Buddhist and Jain worshipping site. It is the city where Lord Mahavir was born. Considered as the first republic of the world, Vaishali is believed to have been named after King Vishal, from the time of Mahabharat.It is also the city where Buddha delivered his last sermon. Surrounded by groves of mango and banana and extensive rice field, it is now a part of Trihut division of Bihar. The village is an important religious and historical attraction site and is flocked by tourists year in and year out.
Lord Buddha has spent a significant time of his life here and he used to visit Vaishali every now and then. Also, his last sermon was held here in Vaishali, which marks the town as an extremely significant center for Buddhism. To mark this event King Ashoka, who embraced Buddhism after the massacre of Kalinga, he decided to erect one of his remarkable pillars here. Apart from Buddhists, Vaishali is revered as a holy place by Jains because it also happens to be Lord Mahavira’s birth place.
An ancient city, Madhubani in Bihar is known for the richness in art and culture that the district strives for. Mentioned in the Ramayana, the city is known for the world popular Madhubani paintings whose origin lie here.
Madhubani emerged from the Darbhanga district of Bihar in 1972 during the reshuffling of territorial boundaries. This small district is slowly growing as a popular tourist destination among art enthusiasts coming here for Madhubani paintings. With Nepal on the north, Darbhanga to the south, Sitamarhi and Supaul on either side, Madhubani is also an important commercial town in the Madhubani district. The town has multiple temples which are the main attraction points of the town for the locals. However, the town is not very tourist-friendly, and there isn’t much to do if you are thinking of a sightseeing tour.