Top Places to Visit in Bihar

Bihar in eastern India is one of the oldest places in the world. Bihar was called Magadha in ancient times. Its capital Patna, then known as Pataliputra, was the center of the Maurya Empire. Bihar has been a great religious center for Hindus, Jains and most importantly, the Buddhists.

Ashoka was the most famous ruler of the Mauryan dynasty of Bihar is known to the people all over the world as the greatest preacher of the words of Lord Buddha. The earliest university in the world was established in Bihar. The Vikramshila and Nalanda University were among the oldest and best centers of education in ancient India but were destroyed by islamic invaders. Its remains are one of the attractions of Bihar tourism. Bihar was the region where Buddhism evolved and finds mention in the Vedas and Indian Puranas. This was one of the most remarkable aspects that make it an important region that added to the diverse cultures of the Indian Union. It became a state after the Indian Independence in 1947.

Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It has several rivers namely Ganga River, Son River, Bagmati River, Kosi River, Budhi Gandak River, and Falgu River. Bihari people have a rich cultural tradition. People are fond of celebrating festivals. Festivals like Chhath Puja, also called Dala Chhath is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated twice a year once in the summers, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once around a week after Diwali, called the Kartik Chhath.

Nalanda University

Nalanda University, Bihar Nalanda was a great center of Buddhist learning in ancient times, located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna near the city of Bihar Sharif. Nalanda was the largest residential centre of learning in the world with a nine-storeyed library. It was a completely residential university with over 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students. It was the Buddhist centre of learning from 427 to 1197 CE partly under the Pala Empire. The monasteries are built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Buddha and Mahavira both used to visit Nalanda during their lifetimes, it was the most famous center of Buddhist learning in Asia, mentioned by eminent travelers like Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang) and Izing (I-tsing), and receiving visitors from all over the Buddhist world. Excavation work has taken place over 14 hectares. All the structures are of red brick with beautiful gardens.The great library of Nalanda University was so vast that it is reported to have burned for three months after the invaders set fire to it, ransacked and destroyed the monasteries, and drove the monks from the site.

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Bodhi Tree

Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple. The Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple is called the Sri Maha Bodhi. It is famous as it is the place where Gautama Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment (Bodhimandala) under what became known as the Bodhi Tree. In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bodhi Tree is not the original Bodhi Tree under which Sidhartha Gautam had enlightenment. The existing tree is of fifth generation of original Bodhi Tree. The myth behind the uprooted original Bodhi tree according to belief is that that the Emperor Ashoka's wife destroyed the actual tree out of jealousy since he devoted too much time on the The Bodhi Tree. Situated behind the MahaBodhi temple, the Bodhi tree(80 feet high) is more than 116 years old and a centre of pilgrim for the Buddhsits all over the world. Also, there is a stone platform on which the Buddha is supposed to have sat in meditation gazing east, under the Bodhi tree. The Bodhi Tree can be visited throughout the year. Ideally, the best time to visit the sacred site is from October to March when the weather is pleasant.

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Muchalinda Lake

Muchalinda Lake, Bodh Gaya Muchalinda Lake, is one of the most famous sightseeing locations in Bodh Gaya. This lake is situated on the right of the main temple and also features a sculpture of hood protecting Lord Buddha, placed right at the centre of lake. According to a popular belief, it is said that in the sixth week when Lord Buddha was meditating near the lake, a strong storm broke out. At this time, when the storm broke out, Lord Buddha was protected by Sheshnaag or the Snake King Muchalinda from the disrupting waves. Muchalinda protected Buddha from the rising waves and in honor of his services; the place was named after him. The green trees by the lake and the lush greenery make it the most frequented tourist spot in Bodh Gaya. Nice place to sit and relax. Can walk around the lake also. calm and quiet place. it will be nice to be there in early morning or in the evening.

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Gridhakuta Peak

Gridhakuta Peak, Bihar This is one out of five peaks in Rajgir. In Buddhism there is a tradition to visit all five peaks. One of the most historically significant places for all Buddhists to visit, where Buddha gave some of his most profound teachings. There is a temple of Shiva on the peak which is just beside the hot spring. 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. The Buddha Sangha of Japan have constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti Stupa at the top of the hill. Definitely worth making this visit, you can see combined with Vishwa Shanti Stupa. Amazing views of the plains and other hills all around the area including many Jain temples. This is one of the areas the Buddha would walk/talk with his disciples.

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Rajgir Hot Springs

Rajgir Hot Springs Rajgir is home to many Hot water springs which are believed to have medicinal properties. The hot springs in Rajgir is a place where religious beliefs come alive. The springs, which are warmed by the sulpher base are believed to be medicinal and a lot of people collect the water here to take it home. It is also a religious site for the Buddhists and Hindus as well. The Saptparni cave source of Rajgir Hot Water Springs are sacred to the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Here, hot water from seven different springs (together called Saptarshi, or seven sages) merge. These are at the foot of Vaibhava Hill. A staircase leads up to the various temples. The hottest of the springs is the Brahmakund with a temperature of 45 degree Centigrade.

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Tomb of Sher Shah Suri

Tomb of Sher Shah Suri in Sasaram Sher Shah's tomb is a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture. The tomb is built in the octagonal style, and is one of the best such specimens in the subcontinent. The Tomb of Sher Shah Suri is in Sasaram in Rohtas district of Bihar. The construction work of this tomb was started by Sher Shah himself and completed by his son and successor Islam Shah some 3 months after the death of Sher Shah in 1545 A.D. The tomb is regarded as one of the noblest specimens of Afghan architecture in India is an example of Indo-Islamic architecture, it was designed by the architect Aliwal Khan. The architecture is superb ,quite big and as it is surrounded by water from almost all 4 sides ,it becomes more attractive.

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Barabar Caves

Barabar Caves, Bihar The Barabar Caves are some 35Km north of Gaya, in the state of Bihar. It is a group of small caves on the Barabar hills, comprises numerous temples constructed from black granite stones. Barabar caves were carved during the first phase of development of Buddhism in the second century BC. Barabar caves are divided in three types and one of them is Nagarjuna caves. Other two are Hut caves and caves of Pandavas. Nagarjuna caves situated on Nagarjuna hill are two in number; Sudama and Chaupar. According to historical evidence, Nagarjuna hill caves were built during the era of Ashoka’s grandson. Other cave called Lomas Rishi cave is magnificently carved and has a rectangular chamber and polished in bright shining color. Barabar caves, are believed to be the oldest surviving rock-cut caves from the Mauryan period. Some the caves have Ashokan inscriptions on them.

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Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall

Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall Hiuen Tsang Memorial is one of the major tourist attractions in Nalanda. The memorial hall is situated on mountain hill. This Memorial was built in the memory of the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang, who contributed a lot during the Gupta Period the interactions of that time. This Chinese traveller visited Nalanda University as student and later teacher in the 800s AD when the University was at its peak of influence and activity. So nice that this memorial was built and the style is beautifully done in Chinese approach. Its a palatial structure with a large couryard and a fantastic doorway, which has exquisite craftsmanship in it. There is a large statue of Hiuen Tsang in the centre of the courtyard and a large meditation hall inside as well.

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Jal Mandir Pawapuri, Nalanda

Jal Mandir Pawapuri, Nalanda Jal mandir as the name suggests is a temple in the middle of a lake blooming with lotuses. The main deity of the beautiful temple is a very old “Charan Paduka” of Lord Mahavira. Its a famous pavan dham of Jains, famously known as Pawa Puri. This place is believed to be place of last Jain tirthankar Mahavira 's dieing venue. Around 500 BC, Lord Mahavira, the last of the 24 Tirthankaras and one of the founders of Jainism, breathed his last here. This is the place where Lord Mahavira achieved Moksha or Nirvana. He was cremated at Pawapuri. It is very beautiful and very sacred.the lake is even used for boating which is full of lotus. Very nice to visit during evening or early morning when the nature is at its best. Lovely to see the thousands of lotus bloom.

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Patna Museum

Patna Museum Patna Museum was established in the year 1917. The Museum was constructed by the British to conserve and display the evolution of history, culture and art tradition of the land. Patna Museum houses many historic items found during excavations in different parts of Bihar. The multipurpose museum houses countless items, including architectural findings such as coins, paintings, instruments, textiles, art objects, thankas, bronze images and sculptures, and terracotta images by Hindu and Buddhist artists. It has a rare collection of British-period paintings depicting day-to-day life, as well as a fine collection related to the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. It also houses a First World War cannon. The museum also displays sculptures from the Kushana period, which include the famous trio from Devangarh in the Nawada district. Three deities Ekanamsa, Balarama and Vasudeva have been separately depicted here which is unconventional and not found anywhere else. Beginning November 2009, a project was started to build a replacement museum in Patna to enable the display of larger collections of up to 20,000 objects.

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