Vaishali today is a small village surrounded by banana, mango groves and rice fields. But excavations in the area have brought to light an impressive historical past. The epic Ramayana tells the story of the heroic King Vishal who ruled here. Historians maintain that one of the world's first democratic republics with an elected assembly of representatives flourished here in the 6th century B.C. in the time of the Vajjis and the Lichchavis. And while Pataliputra, capital of the Mauryas and the Guptas, held political sway over the Gangetic plain, Vaishali was a rich center for trade and industry.
Vaishali mahotsava is held to celebrate the birth anniversary of the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir on the full moon day of the month of "Vaisakh" (mid-April).
35 km. Sonepur situated on the confluence of river Ganga and Gandak, hosts perhaps Asia's Biggest animal fair, from Kartik full moon day (Oct./Nov). The Fair lasts for almost a fortnight. Millions of visitors come to this typical fair.
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation offers Swedish Cottage with attached baths etc. in the temporarily erected Tourists Village.
Several villages around Vaishali make delightful home made toys.Sikki Work, the humble blade of grass is hand-woven into delightful baskets and mats. Lac bangles, these handmade lac bangles come from nearby city Muzaffarpur.
Emperor Ashoka built The Lion Pillar at Kolhua. It is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, surmounted by a bell shaped capital, 18.3 m high. A life-size figure of a lion is placed on top of the pillar. There is a small tank here known as Ramkund. This pillar beside a brick stupa at Kolhua commemorates Buddha's last sermon.
Bawan Pokhar Temple
An old temple built in the Pala period stands on the northern bank of Bawan Pokhar and enshrines beautiful images of several Hindu gods
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.
Excavation at this site in 1958 led to the discovery of another casket containing the ashes of the Lord Buddha.
Abhiskek Pushkarn (Coronation tank)
It contains water that was believed to be sacred in the old days. All of Vaishali's elected representative were anointed here before their swearing in. The Lichchavi stupa was located near here.
The stone casket of the sacred ashes of Lord Buddha were enshrined here in Vaishali.
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.
Raja Vishal ka Garh
A huge mound with a circumference about one Kilometer and walls nearly 2 m 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.
On the south bank of the coronation tank, built by Buddha Vihar Society.
Choumukhi Mahadeva, World Peace Pagoda and Vaishali Museum is also worth visiting.
The ancient city of Pataliputra, now known as Patna is the capital of Bihar. It is located on the southern side of Ganga river and stretches about 15 Kms. This historically famous city has been ruled by major kingdoms like Magadha, Maurya, Gupta, Pala and Mughal emperor and renamed several times by the rulers. Relics of this ancient city can be seen at Kumhrar, Bhikhnapahari, Agamkuan, Bulandi Bag etc. It is a very fertile arched stretch of land along the bank of the Ganga. Today it is an important business centre of eastern India.M
One of the most astonishing cattle fairs to be held in Asia in terms of its size and scale. The sleepy little town of Sonepur (22 km form Patna) is thrown into frenzy on Kartik Purnima , a fortnight after Diwali , as people from all over the world congragate to participate in this huge festival and is enjoyed by all.During the period Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides facilities in traditional huts.
The festivities accompanying the celebreation of freshly harvested paddy and its offerings made to the Sun God have to be seen to be believed. Joy and colour mark the Chhath festivities as thanks are offered to the lord of Crops and the creator of the seasons. Devotional songs to the Sun God and fasting all day long make the Chhath Festival a day of thanks giving. Devotees walk barefoot in the penance to the venue of the celebrations. Lighted earthen lamps are floated down the river at evening time.
Arts and Crafts
Madhubani paintings are indigenous to the state. The renditions by rural women, these village paintings have a large market in the urban areas as well as on the export front. Created strictly by the women of Mithila. they are etched in primary colours of natural origin on paper and cloth. Their subjects are mythology and religious events
This huge and impressive granary is situated between Maidan and the Ganga river. Captain John Garstin of the Bengal Engineers build it in 1786 to store grains for the British army following a terrible famine. This building has an extra ordinary 29 meter high ovoid dome and has a base of 125 meters and 3.6 meters thick walls. It was intended to hold 137000 tons of grains. However, it was never completed. It gives an excellent view of the city and the Ganga river from its top which can be reached by the winding stairway around it.
This is one of the holy sites of Sikhs, located in the chowk area at old Patna. This shrine was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in white marble with kiosks on the terrace in commemoration of Guru Gobind Singh, the10th guru of the Sikhs who was born in Patna in 1660. It is the second of the four great takhts or thrones in the Sikh world. There is a museum which exhibits the photos, holy scriptures and personal possessions of the Guru.
Saif Khan's Mosque
The mosque built by Parwaz Shah, son of Mughal emperor Jahangir located near Harmandir on the banks of river Ganga, is also known as Chimni Ghat, Sangi or pathar masjid. The mosque was built during Parwaz Shah's tenure as Governor of Bihar.
The museum is at Buddha Marg. Opens from 1030 to 1630.Entry - free. This museum contains a rare collection of coins, paintings, terracotta, bronze and stone sculptures of the Maurya and Gupta periods. The famous Mauryan Didarganji Yakshi (3rd century BC), Ashes of Buddha, a First World War cannon, Jain sculpture and archeological finds from Bodh Gaya, Nalanda and Kukrihar are included in the collection. It also has the Tibetan and Chinese sections and 15 meter long fossil tree. The mezzanine floor contains the Tibetan 'Thankas'.
This archeological site is located 5kms from Patna railway station on the Kanjarbagh Road. Excavations here have revealed relics of over a thousand years of four ruling periods from 600BC to 600AD. The remains found here is a huge Mauryan hall supported by 80 sandstone pillars dating back to 300BC.
The martyr's memorial is a sculpture near the Secretariat honouring the seven freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in the Quit India Movement of August 1942. They were shot dead when they attempted to hoist the national flag.
It is about 8 kms east of the Golghar near Kumrahar. This is an old opium godown (warehouse) of former East India Company. This warehouse, hall and ballroom are open to visitors.
The museum holds the private collection of jade, Chinese paintings and silver filigree work of the Mughal period. It is constructed at the site of Sher Shah's fort.
Khuda Baksh Oriental Library
One of the national libraries of India, Khuda Baksh Oriental library has a rare collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts, books from the University of Cordoba, Spain and Rajput and Mughal paintings.
The Ashram is the headquarters of Bihar Vidyapeeth, a national university. India's first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad lived here after his retirement and there is a small museum here showcasing his personal belongings.
Agam Kuan (Unfathomable well) is one of the most important early historic archeological remains in Patna. It is situated just close to Gulzarbagh railway Station, which is proposed to be associated with the Mauryan Emperor Ashok.
Asia's longest roadway bridge
Padri Ki Haveli
The Place were Mother Teresa got her training.
Also known as Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park
Indira Gandhi Science Complex, is one of the must visiting places in Patna. This is among few Planetarium's (Taramandal) in India.
30 km. Sacred to the memory of the 13th century Sufi Saint Maneri. Bari dargah, his cenotaph and the tomb of his disciple Shah Daulat are visited by streams of Muslim pilgrims. Area around the shrine is a picnic spot.
Just 15 kms from Nalanda is located the complex of temples and monasteries. The place is called Rajgir. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place. The small hill grit town is covered with lush green forest which add to the beauty of the place. Rajgir was the capital of the Magadh Mahajanpad (State) when Patliputra was not formed. In those days it was called Rajgrih. Rajgir or Rajgrih means the home of Royalty. This place has been associated with Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Buddha not only spent many years in Rajgir but also delivered sermons here and proselytized emperor Bimbisar at the Griddhakoota hill. Rajgir also has some very beautiful Hindu and Jain temples which attracts Hindus and Jains also to the place. Not only as a place for worship, Rajgir has come up as health and winter resort with its warm water ponds. These ponds are said to contain some medicinal properties which help in the cure of many skin diseases. The added attraction of Rajgir is the Ropeway which takes you uphill to the Shanti Stupa and Monasteries built by the Japanese Devotees on top of the Ratnagiri hills.
Bihar State tourism Department organizes every year, this colorful festival of classical and folk dances from October 4 to October 26.
Another festival specific to Rajgir is "Makar Sankaranti Mela", held on the last day of lunar calendar month "Paus", around middle January (14th January). Devotees make flower offering to the deities of the temples at the Hot Springs and bathe in the holy water.
Rajgir celebrates the Malamasa mela when a fair is held here every three years. The Indian calendar every three years has a thirteenth month which is considered auspicious.
Arts and Crafts
The places around Rajgir are famous for stone Sculptors and bowls.
This is the Ranbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh fought one of the Mahabharat battles.
Seat of the Royal Physician's dispensary where Lord Buddha was once brought to have wound dressed by Jivaka, the royal physician during the reign of Ajatshatru and Bimbisara.
Built by Ajatshatru (6th century B.C.), the king of Magadha during the Buddha's time. The 6.5 sq.meter Ajatshatru's Stupa is also believed to have been built by him.
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-Maurayan stone structures ever to have been found. Traces of wall still subsist, particularly at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya.
The Vishwa Shanti Stup is located on a 400 meter high hill. The stupa is built in marble and on the four corners of the stupa are four glimmering statues of Buddha. To reach the top of this hill one has to come through the "Ropeways". This place is also called the GriddhKoot.
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.
It is the tank in which Buddha used to bathe.
Two rather strange cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers I believed to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; the doorway is supposed to lead to king Bimbisara Treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhlipi or shell script, etched into wall and so far undeciphered, are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact. The second chambers bears a few traces of seated and standing etched into the outer wall.
His impatient son and heir, Ajatashatru, imprisoned King Bimbisara here. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration, for, from this spot he could see Lord Buddha climbing up to his mountain retreat atop the Griddhakuta hill. There is a clear view of the Japanese Pagoda. The stupa of peace was built on the top of the hill.
A Jain Temple and Museum
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.
Chariot Route Marks
The Chariot Route and hell inscriptions are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon, two parallel furrows cut deep into rock for about thirty 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 5th centuries AD, and engraved in the rock around the chariot marks.
At the foot of Vaibhava Hill, a staircase leads up to the various temples. Separate bathing places have been organized for men and women and the water comes through spouts from Saptdhara, the seven streams, believed to find their source behind the "Saptarni Caves", up in the hills. The hottest of the springs is the Brahmakund with a temperature of 45 degree Centigrade.
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. Since it later became the resort of pious hermits, it is also called Pippala Cave and popularly known as "Jarasandh ki Baithak" after the name of the King Jarasandh, a contemporary of Lord Krishna described in the epic Mahabharata
It is to be said that that it was a store of Gold of King Jarashandh. A unread story about the cave is that there is a lot of gold in this cave and a script is written on a stone is the code to unlock the door of this Swarn Bhandar.
This was the place where the lord Buddha set in a motion his second wheel of law an for three months even 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 (Peace Pagoda), at the top of the hill in commemoration. A bridle path leads to up to the hill but it is much more fun to take the Aerial Chair lift which operates every day except Thursday. One way ride takes 7.5 minutes and the view is splendid over the hills of Rajgir.
New Rajgir Walls, Bimbisar Road, Maniyar math, Saptarni Caves and Poppala Stone house are the sites of tourist interest.
18 km. The lake with its temple of Surya, the Sun God, is a pilgrim destination twice a year in "Vaisakha" (April-May) and in "Kartika" (October-November) during the Chhath Puja or Sun Worship.
The Digamber sect of Jains believe that Lord Mahavira was born at Kundalpur, 18 km from Rajgir. A Jain temple and two lotus lakes - The Dirga Pushkarni and Pandava Pushkarni mark the spot.
25 km away, this little town on the top of a craggy rock, attracts thousand of pilgrims of all religions who visit the tomb of Makhdum Shah Sharif-ud-din, a Muslim saint of 14th century. Bihar Sharif was once the capital of the Muslim Governors of Bihar between 13th and 16th centuries when the city was an active cultural center and an important seat of Muslim thought and learning.
Deoghar, (the House of the God), situated in the Santhal Parganas of Jharkhand, is a popular health resort and an important center of Hindu pilgrimage, having the ancient temple of Baba Baidyanath - one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India. For centuries, devotees of Lord Shiva, in the month of Shravan. undertake a rigorous 100-km pilgrimage on foot from Ajgaibinath (Sultanganj) to offer Holy Water to Baba Baidyanath. The pilgrimage is deemed complete with the homage paid at Basukinath, 43 km from Deoghar.
How to Reach
Nearest airport is Patna 281 km which is well connected with rest of the country.
The nearest railway station is Baidyanath Dham (Deoghar) which is a terminal station of a 7 kms branch line originating from Jasidih Rail Junction (15 km).
Deoghar is connected by road to Calcutta 373 km, Giridih 112 km, Patna 281 km, Dumka 67 km, Madhupur 57 km, Shimultala 53 km. Regular direct bus services are available from Bhagalpur, Hazaribagh, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Gaya Taxis, Scooters, Cycle Rickshaws are available for local transport.
Places of Interest
Baidyanath Temple, Nandan Hills, Naulakha Temple, Kundeshwari Temple, Nav Durga Temple, Satsang Ashram, Mahadeo Falls, Harila Joria (8 km), Tapovan(10 km), Trikut Hills(17 km) are major tourist attractions.
Other places of interest are Mandar Hills (69 km) which is believed to have been used by the Gods to churn Oceans and Sultanganj (100 km) which is situated between the two banks of the holy river Ganges.
PagalaBaba Temple (7kms), Ramkrishna Mission Ashram (4kms), Arogyaa Bhavan (5 kms).