State of Bihar – Places of interest and tourist attractions

I am happy to talk about my own state of Bihar. The more I learn about this state, the more I fall in love with it. The history of this great state to Bihar is essentially the history of ancient India. Its capital, Patna (ancient Patliputra) built by Ajatashatru in 490 B.C. as a small fort later became the capital of Magadha that stretched from Eastern India to Afghanistan. It was from here that the mighty Indian empires such as the Nandas, Mauryans, Sungas, Guptas and Palas used Patliputra as their capital. During the reign of famous Indian king called “Ashoka the Great”, the city became one of the biggest cities of the world. It was the Afghan king, Sher Shah Suri who made Patliputra the capital of his empire and changed its name to what is called “Patna” today.

Bihar is well known as the land of monasteries, which is well evident from its name itself, which is derivation of the word “Vihara”. The serendipity of the state offers a pleasant escape from the humdrum monotony of city life. The temples, monasteries, mosques, and mausoleums of Bihar boast of a great historic past, which are related to the all major religions of India like Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism Sikhism and Islam. The holy river Ganga flows wide and deep through the enriched plains of Bihar, and passes through the middle of the state from west to east. The other important rivers of the state are Kosi and Gandak which flow from the north, and river Sone which flows from the south join the Ganga.

Nalanda University Ruins

Nalanda University Ruins

The crowning glory of the state is its cherished linkage to the ‘Light of Asia’ Lord Buddha. The state boasts of special tourist attraction known as the Buddhist circuit, which is linked to the trail of the pilgrimage undertaken by Lord Buddha. The special circuit begins at Patna, the capital city, where you can view the exclusive Buddhist sculptures and the terracotta urns that contains ashes of Lord Lord Buddha at Patna museum. The trail then passes through Vaishali, Nalanda, Rajgir, Hills of Gridhrakuta and finally Bodh Gaya. All these places have special connection to the life of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira.

Places of historical and religious significance in Bihar

Vaishali

Vaishali hosts the ruins of the location where the second Buddhist council took place. It used to be the capital of Licchavis, the world’s first republics. It is here that Mahavira was born and brought up hence making it an important pilgrimage site for the followers of Jainism. Buddha too visited Vaishali where he stayed and preached. Some of the places to visit in Vaishali include Relic stupa, Kutagarasala Vihara (monastery where Buddha stayed), World Peace Pagoda (a Japanese stupa) and a museum operated by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Nalanda

Asoka pillar Vaishali Bihar

Capital of the Asokan pillar at Vaishali

Nalanda boasts of the splendor of the world’s first university. This is the special place where Lord Buddha himself had imparted his teaching. The famous Chinese traveler and Buddhist pilgrim, Hieun Tsang was enrolled as a student in this university. During its height its popularity, this place of learning attracted scholars and students from as far away as Tibet, China, Greece, and Persia. It was in 1193 when Turkish invader “Bakhtiyar Khilji” ransacked and burnt this university, burnt the surrounding monasteries and killed its scholars. It is said the library was so vast that it continued to burn for 3 months. One of my favorites places in Bihar and highly recommended. The ruins of the university is a popular tourist attraction.

Rajgir

Rajgir Stupa Bihar

Rajgir Stupa

Rajgir is the place where Lord Buddha spent his first 5 years after attaining enlightenment or nirvana. According to the scriptures, the first of the 6 Buddhist councils was held in Rajgir soon after the nirvana of Lord Buddha. Some of the places to visit in Rajgir include Vulture’s Peak here Buddha happened to sit, Pipphali Cava, Venuvana Monastery, Bimbisara’s jail (Bimbisara was the first king to convert to Buddhism) and Jarasandha’s Akhara. One just cannot miss Rajgir when visiting Bihar.

The hills of Grdhrakuta in Rajgir is esteemed place where Lord Buddha delivered many of his sermons. Buddhists from all over the world visit these hills.

Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya Temple

Bodh Gaya Temple

Bodh Gaya is host to the Mahabodi Temple which marks the exact location where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. A visit to Bihar will not be complete without a visit to Bodh Gaya. It is here in Bodh Gaya where Buddha achieved Nirvana (enlightment). The famous Mahabodhi Temple is the spot where Buddha used to medicate. There is a tree called the “Bodhi tree” that marks the exact spot where he attained englightment. This scared fig tree where Buddha used to sit under, many believe is the direct descendant planted in 288 B.C.

Situated close to Bodh Gaya is the “city of Gaya” situated on the Falgu River that happens to be a popular pilgrimage site for Hindus. It is thought that Lord Vishnu killed the demon Gayasur. Many Hindus perform the Shraddha or the final rites of the dead to remove the sins of their ancestors. Popular place to visit in Gaya would be the Vishnupad Mandir. Legend has it that Lord Vishnu placed his right foot on Gayasura the demon’s head and he was pushed in the ground. The temple stands on the exact spot.

Bodh Gaya can be reached by train from Patna and Varanasi. The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides tours to this site.

Kesariya

Kesariya is the site of a stupa built by the King Ashoka. It is the highest Stupa found in the country with a height of about 104 feet from the base.

Pawapuri

Jal Mandir Pawapuri Bihar

Jal Mandir Pawapuri Bihar

Another major attraction of the state is Pawapuri, also known as Apapuri, situated 101 kilometers from Patna. The final Tirthankar and founder of Jainism, Mahavira, who breathed his last in the place, have been cremated here. The Jalmandir is built in middle of a water tank, which was created by removal of Mahavira ashes from the spot. Samosharan is another famous Jain Temple situated in the city.

The state also boasts of Ramayan Trial, Sufi Trial in addition to the above mentioned most sought after Buddhist trail.

Patna

Anyone who plans on visiting Bihar, normally, will start from Patna. Patna is not only the capital city of Bihar, but also a place of great tourist attraction, which is visited by nearly 3 million people every year. Patna is one of those few places on this planet that have been continuously inhabited for more than three millennia.

If you are in Patna, then don’t miss visiting the Hanuman Mandir, Agan Kuan, Akal Takhat, ruins of Kumhrar, Didarganj Yakshi temple, Padri Ki Haveli, Patna Museum, Planetarium and the Golghar. For tourists interested in history and books, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, situated on the banks of Ganga in Patna, offers a unique repository of about 21000 Oriental manuscripts and 250,000 printed books of immense historical and intellectual value.

Patna Museum Bihar

Patna Museum

Four cities on the banks of the holy river you should visit

Apart from the religious and political attraction, Bihar has great eco trails to its credit

Kakolat waterfall in Gobindpur, 30 km from Nawada, is a place of panoramic scenic beauty, surrounded by green forests and nature at its best. The falls, which is nearly 160 feet high from ground level, cascades into a natural reservoir situated below it. The best time to visit this place would be when the fair is held here on the occasion of Bishua.

Bhimbandh wildlife sanctuary is another important place to visit when you are in Bihar. Situated at a distance of 56 km from Munger, 20 km from Jamui Railway Station and 200 km from Patna Airport, these forests cover an area of nearly 700 km on the rising and falling tract of Kharagpur Hills.

Bordered by the River Ganga, amazingly, this forest area is surrounded by densely populated towns and villages. A host of animals such as Tiger, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Nilgai, Sambhar, Barking deer, Wild Bear, or a four horned Antelope can be seen by a lucky tourist in this wildlife sanctuary.

Another attraction of the place is the hot springs, which surprisingly maintain a constant temperature (52° C to 65° C) all year around.

Places to look around nearby the sanctuary are Rishikund, HaHa Punch Kumari, Rameshwar Kund, Kharagpur Lake and Sringrishi. Staying there is not a big deal as there are tourist lodges and forest rest houses that offer accommodation facilities to tourists in the middle of the forest.

Bihar also hosts the largest cattle fair in Asia known as the Sonepur Mela is held in the month of October/November. The central draw of the fair is cattle trade. All species of birds, poultry, bovines and beasts of burden including elephants, are marketed here.

Bihar is a state that welcomes all tourists, no matter what they are looking for, for in its bosom it holds all the diverse attractions a tourist desires for.

You can learn more about the state of Bihar from my own forum on Bihar or on this site dedicated to Bihar. Anyone interested in history of India cannot miss Bihar in their travels to India. Similarly any Buddhist or a student of Buddhism must visit Bihar.

Bihar forum

Contacts:

Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (A Government of Bihar Undertaking) that provides tours to many of the holy sites in Bihar.

Phone: +91-612-2225411, Fax: +91-612-2506218.

Web Site: http://bstdc.bih.nic.in

Email: bihartourism.bstdc@gmail.com

Bir Chand Patel Path, Patna. PIN-800 001. Bihar, India

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36 Responses to “State of Bihar – Places of interest and tourist attractions”

  1. Nishant says:

    Great to see an article on my home state. We certainly have lots of potential for developing it as a tourist destination
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  2. Yes, Bihar is an amazing place…nice narration!!

    love to visit the place some day!!!

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  3. Michael Belk says:

    I can imagine the importance Bihar to the country of India. It seems like a great tourist with good reason.

    It is a religious heaven and a tourist playground. The state has fascinating places for all.

  4. Okto says:

    Hi Shalu,

    A lot of interesting places to visit If I were there. Thanks for share it. It will become one of my recommendation for holidays in India

  5. Wow. Looks and sounds amazing. Came across your blog ans post via TBUnite. Have not been to your part of the world yet, and looks like I need to get it on my to visit list! Look forward to following your travels now that have discovered your site. Hope you also get chance to take a look at mine when you get a chance. tipsfortravellers.com Happy travels, Gary

  6. Shamis says:

    Beautiful photo of Nalanda University Ruins. My parents were lucky enough to visit all these places during their 3-month tour in India. Sadly I couldn’t join them but maybe next time.
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  7. Bhushan says:

    Hello There,

    changes,changes and just many good changes.

    I have seen movie movies about Bihar and think that there are something bad feeling about Bihar but I don’t think so and also have feeling that it will prove itself in sometime.
    Here are some extreme attention about this place.

  8. Hello Shalu,
    The State of Bihar has a very cultural rich Past the University of Nalanda of ancient times is famous worldwide. So it seems that entire state has a lot to offer in terms of Tourism, Great post!
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  9. erda says:

    Please suggest an itinerary covering important places in Bihar for about 10 days. My interest is History and Archaeological sites.I definitely want to visit this state .

    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Hello Erda,

      If you are interested in historical sites than you must visit
      1. Patna, has many places such as Kumhrar, Gol Ghar. More about Patna here http://www.youbihar.com/page/patna
      2. Body Gaya and stay there for a couple of days
      3. Go to Rajgir and stay and discover the place. You will find many places of historical places such as stupas, caves
      4. Then finally go to Pawapuri where Lord Mahavira died
      5. Then go to Nalanda where you can visit the ruins and a museum.
      6. Vaishali is a place where you can find Ashoka Pillars
      Some more information on Bihar here http://www.youbihar.com/page/introduction-to-bihar

      Finally go back to Patna and take it from there. The address in the post is of the Bihari Tourism Board and they can help you book the itinerary.

      Hope this helps.
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  10. Hi Shalu,

    I don’t know if I’d ever go to those places, but it seems beautiful and very interesting as well.

    Thank you for sharing this :)

  11. Lana says:

    Looks very interesting to come and enjoy the environments there.

    Thanks for it Shalu

  12. samyyyr says:

    The Incredible Story of Bihar..! A detailed analysis of the tourist destination in the state. Great Work!

  13. Monica says:

    Hi Shalu,

    Your post is great! I love the pictures. Especially “Nalanda University Ruins”. I must enclose the places you have written about to my destinations list.

  14. Well Bihar is what I call the hidden gem of Indian Tourism industry… I am planning the Buddhist circuit in some time.

    Q.. any wild life area that can be clubbed… thanks..
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  15. Marisol says:

    Hi Shalu, I was introduced to Bihar from reading the books of yoga of Swami Satyananda. I have been fascinated since then but your post made me realized that it is much more fascinating than I thought. There is so much culture, history and spirituality. I hope to make it to Bihar next time I visit India.

  16. Saurabh Rai says:

    i belongs to Bihar, but I never know that these places are also over there..

    Its very kind of your Shalu ma,am and a great effort by you. As you are sharing all this without any financial need..

    Thanks for it :) :)

  17. It was really nice to know about the historical importance of teh state of bihar. I was really unaware of the fact that bihar had such a rich cultural heritage and the state that is looked down by people was sometime a global hub for education. reading this blog, it really brings enthusiasm in me to plan my next trip to bihar and personally experience being in the spiritualistic and holy land of budhdha.

  18. Cudjoe says:

    What a lovely scene from India! The country is truly beautiful .
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  19. Felicia says:

    Hi Shalu,
    Yet another post about great places in India! This is the first time I’ve ever known Bihar. And I must say that the names of the historical areas there (Vaishali, Nalanda, etc) sounds really exotic. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Joy says:

    I’ve never been to India but you have successfully encouraged me to pay your country a visit soon :) This is great Shalu, Bihar sure looks captivating!

  21. Kristine says:

    Hi Shalu! Thanks for this in-depth look at Bihar, I’m sure that you’re very proud of the great attractions your state has to offer :)

  22. Veronica says:

    This article showed me a lot of things to look forward to in Bihar. Never thought the state could impact me that much but now, I am very excited!

  23. Stacey says:

    I am really not familiar with the state of Bihar. However, this post interests me to get to know this place better!

  24. Nadeem Khan says:

    The Asokan pillar in Bihar looks more of Egyptian origin than Indian origin !
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  25. Marc Helman says:

    Thinking about traveling to India soon and this really seems like an interesting region for me to check out. Thanks for all the info and for what you do with this blog!

  26. Aayna says:

    People always associate Bihar with poverty and misery, many are not even aware about the beautiful places which are present in the state of Bihar. You have highlighted that particular side through this post, which was always left in abeyance. Thanks for sharing the glory of Bihar.

  27. Sandra says:

    Wow, such an epic scene of Bihar! I would love to come visit there in the future.

  28. Calra says:

    Wow, the Bihar state looks wonderful in these pictures! Thanks for posting about this interesting place.

  29. abhishek says:

    Hey Shalu

    I have never been to Bihar and honestly I wasn’t aware of many of these places. Would surely like to make a visit. Thanks for this informative share. Always good to know about India.

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