Celebrated every year on 22nd March, the day marks the formation of the state. It was on this day, in 1912, that the state was carved out of Bengal.
The landlocked state is located in East India amid West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. This position bestows the state with a rich culture that transitions from Bengal to Bihar and then to Uttar Pradesh. To the north of the state, lies Nepal, while Jharkhand lies to the south. The sacred river Ganga enriches the plains of the state. The river imparts a scenic background to several historical monuments of the state.
- The term ‘Bihar’ is derived from the ancient word ‘Vihar’ which means monastery. The earliest of ancient empires were formed in Bihar.
- The Mauryan dynasty is said to have emerged in parts of Bihar which was formerly called Magadh.
- The state is intimately linked to Buddha’s life and offers a trial of pilgrimages related to the same.
- It holds the ruins of Nalanda University and is home to fertile plains that are cultivated with rice, sugarcane, oilseeds, gram, wheat, jute and barley.
The state has a lot to offer when it comes to tourism—from the Buddhist pilgrimages to the ancient architectural remains—the city has it all.
Bodhi tree, Mahabodhi temple, and nearby attractions
Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment under a bodhi tree, the site is now replaced by the Mahabodhi temple which attracts a large number of tourists every year.
- The temple has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. It stands to the east of the Bodhi tree and has a height of 170 feet.
- The dome holds chatras while the insides are decorated with ancient stupas and a colossal image of Buddha that shows the posture in which he attained enlightenment.
- The Bodhi tree present in the temple premises is the fifth descendant of the original tree planted at this site.
- Vajrasana or the Diamond throne is believed to be the seat of Buddha, most probably the one on which he attained enlightenment. It is made of red sandstone and is mentioned in Fa-Hien’s works. It was built by emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C.E. As per the Buddhacharita, this is believed to be the navel of Buddha.
The great Buddha statue lies next to the temple. It was unveiled and consecrated in the presence of the Dalai Lama in 1989. The 25m statue is symbolic of the holy place of Bodhgaya.
Nearby attractions include:SujataGarh, Muchalinda Sarovar and the Meditation park. Barabar caves and Nagarjuni hills are located 41km from Gaya and are archaeologically significant. They are carved out of solid rocks and depict the life of Buddha.
Dungeshwari caves are located 12km away from Gaya and contain Buddhist shrines. It is said that before attaining enlightenment, Buddha underwent self-mortification at this place. Gaya gets its name from an ancient incident that revolves around the Vishnupad temple. The interesting story of Gayasur and Lord Vishnu is central to the temple that encloses a 40cm long footprint of Lord Vishnu.
Sita Kund is a nearby attraction of this temple. It is the place where Sita had performed pinda-dana for her father-in-law. She had blessed a garden called Akshay vat which is present around the temple. Mangala Gauri temple is one of the Shaktipeeths that dates back to the 15th century.
Vaishali, the greatest city of 5th century B.C
Vaishali is home to several stupas, the Ashokan pillar and the famous Bawan Pokhar temple. The Ashokan pillar was erected in the 3rd century B.C.E and is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, mounted by a bell-shaped capital. The 18.3m high pillar holds a lion as capital on the top. The Bawan pokhar temple dates back to the Pala period and enshrines the images of Hindu gods and goddesses.
Patna – the perfect spot for history lovers!
The capital city, Patna, is lined with several historical monuments like the Pathar ki masjid, Martyr’s memorial, Padri ki Haveli, Kumrahar–which features an eighty pillared hall,
Golghar–the tallest monument in the city that lacks pillars, Agam Kuan and Kesaria. The city comes alive with festivals like Makar Sankranti and chhath puja and is a flourishing trade center.
The ruins of Nalanda
The university once contained 9 million books and 2000 teachers and was a major learning hub. It is said that Lord Buddha himself was a teacher at the university and Hiuen-Tsang had been a student of the same. Temples and lecture halls have been excavated here. As per Hiuen-Tsang, the university attracted students from all parts of the world and had a huge faculty along with a huge library that was established in three buildings, one of which had nine storeys. The relics of Nalanda are well preserved in its archaeological museum.
Culture, crafts and a rich tradition
- The famous Madhubani painting has become synonymous in the state and is gaining worldwide fame with its distinct style. It provides livelihood to the artisans.
- Tikuli painting is another masterpiece of Bihar.
- Apart from this, several stone crafts, metal works and terracotta works rule the craft industry.
- The woodcraft of Gaya has a distinct style and holds spiritual significance for the Buddhist pilgrims.
Culinary delights and festive vibes!
Bihar is the land where the setting sun is worshiped along with the rising sun. The four-day-long Chhath Puja is celebrated with great zeal across the city. The river banks are decorated with flowers and banana trunks and are flooded with devotees during the arghya.
A special type of sweet, thekua is prepared and offered to the sun god while other offerings include: fruits, rice, and pudding. Anarsa, tilkut, laddoos, malpua, perugia, and balushahi are the other sweets savored in Bihar while litti, chokha remains the main course of Bihari cuisine!