Bihar has remained an underrated tourist destination in India. It is ironic that Bihar was once the seat of one of the most prosperous ancient Indian kingdoms and today it suffers listlessness when it comes to heritage tourism in India. We agree, we may have a good amount of foreign tourists swarming Bihar but said unsaid they have all restricted themselves to fewer destinations in this historically affluent state. If we see, the history of Bihar is believed to have roots back to the breaking dawn of civilizations in India and then the state prospered as the seat of majestic empires like Magadh. It is also the state that gave two important religions – Buddhism and Jainism to the world. Bihar in course of years developed to a rich historic site with diverse culture and tradition. Today, what we witness is the flavoursome extracts of the legacy of different empires. And if we make ourselves a little more adjustable and open to travelling, we may be able to explore an important gem from the Indian treasure chest.
Patna Sahib Gurudwara
The capital city of Patna is regarded as very sacred by the Sikhs in India. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh was born here. The Patna Sahib Gurudwara is considered to be one of the holiest of the five “Takths” or seat of authority of the Sikhs. The first guru of the Sikhs, Guru Nanak is also said to have visited this place. Sri Patna Sahib Gurudwara is situated in one of the old quarters of Patna. The place is named as Harminder Takth though the Sikhs respectfully call it Patna Sahib.
There is an interesting story behind the Patna Sahib. According to legends, an ardent devotee of Guru Nanak, Salis Rai Johri was highly inspired by the teachings of the Sikh gurus. He transformed his lavish mansion into a Dharamshala (lodge) where Guru Tegh Bahadur is also said to have stayed. The Gurudwara was reconstructed in the year 1839 after a fire destroyed the construction. Again in the year 1934, some portion of Patna Sahib was destroyed when a powerful earthquake jolted the state of Bihar. It was reconstructed in the year 1954.
The Gurudwara has a small museum in its premises which houses some relics belonging to the Sikh Gurus. These include hand written orders known as “Hukumnamas” of Guru Gobind Singh and Guru Tegh Bahadur that are preserved in a book. Other artifacts include a sacred sword, a pair of sandals made of ivory, four iron arrows and a cradle with gold plated stands. The holy shrine is visited by many devotees and is beautifully preserved till date.
The Mahabodhi temple, also called the “Great Awakening Temple”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Bodhgaya, Bihar. It is a Buddhist temple that marks the location where the Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. Lord Buddha holds a very significant place in the religious history of India as he is believed to be the 9th and the most recent incarnation of Lord Vishnu to have walked the earth. The temple spreads over an area of a whopping 4.8 hectares and is 55 meters tall. The Bodhi Tree is situated to the left of the temple and is believed to be the direct descendant of the actual tree under which Lord Gautam Buddha meditated and attained enlightenment and laid down his philosophy for life. The original temple was built by Emperor Ashoka after he turned to Buddhism in order to seek peace and solitude from war and conquests.
The great Emperor Ashoka visited Bodh Gaya in around 260 BC. During his visit, he constructed a small temple by a tree, which was the Bodhi tree- the tree under which Gautam Buddha was sitting when he attained enlightenment. An inscription dated back to between 1st century and 2nd century read that the temple built by Emperor Ashoka was replaced by a new one. Many monks and devotees can be seen performing countless prostrations to the tree. It’s a purificatory ritual, and some monks are known to do up to 1,00,000 prostrations at one time. The architecture of the temple and its overall silence and peace will surely enchant you as you visit it.
Vishnupada Temple, Gaya
Vishnupad Temple is another famous piece of architecture in Gaya that is of prime religious significance for Hindus. As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is marked by his footprint, which is also known as Dharmasila. Located on the banks of the Falgu River, the temple’s construction time is unknown but legend has it that Lord Rama visited here once with his wife Goddess Sita. The structure that we see now was restored by Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar, ruler of Indore, in 1787.
Inside the temple, one can see the 40 cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu imprinted on solid rock. According to Hindu mythology, this footprint marks the act of Vishnu demolishing the realm of a demon called Gayasur by placing his foot on demon’s head. Those interested in admiring the breathtaking top view of the temple can mount 1000 stone steps leading to the top of the Brahmajuni Hill, just a kilometre southwest of the temple. From atop the hill, visitors can enjoy some magnificent views of the Vishnupad Temple.
How to Reach?
Gaya is well-connected by air, rail and road from major cities of India. The best way would be to take a flight or a train
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.
- Nalanda Archaeological Museum
- Xuanzang Memorial Hall
- Nalanda Multimedia Museum
- Surajpur Baragaon
- Rajgir Dance Festival ( in October)
How to Reach?
The best way to reach here would be to board a flight/train to Gaya (95kms from Nalanda) and then book a cab/taxi.
Munger city is located in Bihar and is perhaps one of the most alluring cities of Bihar. Munger tourism is one of the best choices a tourist can have. It is a real treat in terms of the tourist attractions it has to offer. The city made its presence felt all through historical times and served as the capital of Bengal under the rule of Kasim Ali Khan in 1762. The city of Munger has many distinctions to its name. It is interesting to note that during the First World War, it was the city of Munger that produced cartridge guns. Even during the Indo China War the Munger Gun Factory played a crucial role in 1962.
The major spectacles of Munger tourism are Munger Fort, Bihar School of Yoga, Sita Kund, Kharagpur Lake, Pir Shah Nafa Shrine, Bhimband Wildlife Sanctuary, Shri Krishna Vatika, Shah Mustafa Sufi’s Grave and Dilwarpur. Munger is blessed with immense wealth of historical and religious sites that are simply a treat to experience. Munger tourism is the hub of many enthusiastic tourists because of major highlights such as the grandeur of architecture of the Munger Fort which is built on a mound and has been there since medieval era. The Bihar School of Yoga is also a crowd puller and is famous all around the world for yoga instructions. The motto of the school is to enhance a human being’s personality through yoga. The places of religious significance include Sita Kund, Kharagpur lake, Pir Shah Nafa Shrine, Rameshwar Kund, etc. Munger is known for the work expertise in iron; articles cast in iron are a special craft. The festivities that embellish Munger tourism are Chatt Puja, Durga Puja, Raksha Bandhan and Christmas. Best Time To Visit Munger Munger gets really hot and dry in summers and bitterly cold in winters. Monsoons are fair here and so the best time to plan a trip is from September to March.
Vaishali is situated in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, around 55 km off Patna, the capital of the state. Vaishali extends from latitude 25° in the North to longitude 85° in the East. The town, an important place for both the Buddhists and Jains, is well connected to other important cities in Bihar by road.
Believed to be the first republic in the world, Vaishali has taken its name from King Vishal of the Mahabharat age. He is said to have constructed a great fort here, which is now in ruins. Vaishali is a great Buddhist pilgrimage and also the birthplace of Lord Mahavira. It is said that the Buddha visited this place thrice and spent quite a long time here. The Buddha also delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and announced his Nirvana here. After his death, Vaishali also held the second Buddhist Council.
The great Lichchavi clan ruled Vaishali in the sixth century BC, and the empire extended up to the hills of Nepal. The Lichchavi state is considered to be the first republican state of Asia. According to the Jataka stories, (Buddhist story books giving the account of different births of the Buddha), Vaishali was ruled by some 7707 kings of the Lichchavi clan. Ajatshatru, the great Magadh King, annexed Vaishali in the fifth century BC and after that Vaishali gradually lost its glory and power.
Mahavira, the last Tirthankar of Jainism, was born in Kundupur near Vaishali. The father of Mahavira was King Siddartha and his mother Trishala was the sister of King Chetaka of Vaishali. Since the wealth of his father’s kingdom had increased during the pregnancy, the child was called Vardhaman. He was named Mahavira because he showed great courage in a very young age. After the death of his parents at the age of 30, he renounced the world after fasting for two days under an Ashoka tree in Vaishali.
Navlakha Palace, Rajnagar
Situated in Rajnagar on the eastern bank of River Kamla, near Madhubani district of Bihar, Navlakha Palace, also known as Rajnagar Palace, is an ancient royal palace which is a popular heritage building in the region. Built by Maharaja Rameshwar Singh, the palace formerly boasted of well paved gardens, tinkering ponds, temple complexes and the like. However, it suffered major loss and extensive damage in 1934 when an earthquake hit it. It has never been repaired and currently lies in ruins. However, even then, it boasts of old world charm and brilliant architecture and still visited by tourists and locals frequently
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall, Kundalpur
Extremely informative and well maintained memorial dedicated to Hiuen Tsang, this memorial gives a vivid description of the Chinese traveller’s whole life.Be fascinated by the huge brass column studded gates of this building built in memory of Hiuen Tsang.
A palatial structure with a large courtyard and a fantastic doorway with exquisite craftsmanship, this memorial houses a large statue of Hiuen Tsang in the centre of the courtyard and a large meditation hall inside as well. The hall is adorned with an excellent description of what Tsang did in his time and about his travel from India to China. It is a delight for history lovers.
There is a huge bell located near the Hiuen Tsang statue. Don’t forget to ring for good fortune.