A sneak and peek to the rich cultural heritage of Bihar
The land of Bihar is enfolded with rich culture, a golden past and noticeable though undervalued heritage sites. Once known as Magadha, the state was once the centre of power, knowledge and progressive civilization. It is the old land of Buddha, which witnessed heyday of ancient Indian history. The state owns pride for founding the earliest university and sowing the seeds of first democracy in the world. But ironically, the tourist destinations of this state have always been overlooked and the flocks of travellers get converged to only a few sites.
Let’s take a tour to some significant tourist attractions of the state which has such a prosperous past.
Nalanda houses the ruins of Nalanda University, which is perhaps the oldest university in India. Founded during the 5th century A. D., the university is believed to be the first residential university in the world. The glory and fame of this learning centre can be evidenced from the fact that it had around two thousand teachers that used to teach ten thousand students across all parts of the world. This renowned place made the great Chinese scholar and traveller Hieun-Tsang to pay a visit and stay here for two years. The structure of the university is made of red rocks and constructed in Kushana style of architecture. This important site was ransacked and demolished probably by the army of Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1200 A.D. The remains of Stupas, lecture hall and stairway can be still seen in the ruined structure of the university.
Located at – 75 Km from Patna and 92 Km from Gaya
Unarguably, Bodh Gaya is the most famous and most visited places in Bihar including international tourists in its visitors. This is the very holy place, where Lord Buddha attained Nirvana under the Bodhi Tree and laid the foundation of one of the popular religion – Buddhism that has now six millions followers around the world. This UNESCO World Heritage Site comprises the Bodhi Tree and Maha Bodhi Temple. The temple is splendid for its graceful structure and architecture. The pious place is exemplary for spreading the messages of Buddha to the entire globe.
Located at – 17 Km from Gaya, 95 Km from Nalanda and 110 Km from Patna
Being a significant archaeological site, Vaishali was once the capital of Licchavi which is believed to be the first example of democracy around 6th century BCE. The place is renowned as the birthplace of last and 24th Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira, making it a pious pilgrimage centre for Jains. The place is also notable as at this very place Lord Buddha preached his last sermon before his death. This ancient city was a prosperous kingdom during the time of Buddha and has a glorious history in the remains of the place. Famous courtesan Amrapali known for her beauty hails from Vaishali. The historic site which gets mentioned in the travel episodes of famous Chinese travellers Fa-hein and Hieun Tsang, houses the renowned Ashokan Pillar.
Located at – 62 Km from Patna
Vishwa Shanti Stupa – Rajgir
Located in Nalanda district, Rajgir was the first capital of Magadha Kingdom that later flourished into the Mauryan Empire. This historic city proudly houses Vishwa Shanti Stupa – one of the seven peace Pagodas built in India. This pagoda was built in 1969 to transmit the note of peace and non-violence. The four statues of Buddha echo four important phases of Buddha’s life – birth, nirvana, teaching and death. One of the noteworthy examples of Japanese architecture in India, Vishwa Shanti Stupa is a not-to-be missed site of Bihar.
Located at – 100 Km from Patna and 67 Km from Gaya
Situated on the twin hills – Barabar and Nagarjuni, Barabar caves are claimed to be the oldest rock – cut caves in India, dating back to 3rd century BCE of Mauryan Empire. Barabar Caves encompasses four caves, while Nagarjuni hill have three caves. The caves which reflect the traces of Buddhist and Jain art have a well-polished surface and expressive inscriptions and carvings on its walls. The caves were mentioned in the famous book of E. M. Forster – A Passage to India.
Located at – 24 Km north of Gaya
We are sure that now after reading this you must be eager to visit these places. Tell us your experience if you happen to be any of these places.