The state of Bihar lies along the eastern Gangetic Plains in North India, A land that has been the passing of many dynasties of ancient India, Bihar has also been the birth place of two treat theologies -Buddhism and Jainism. As a place of pilgrimage for centuries, even the name Bihar is desired from 'Vihar' as a Buddhist monasteries,
Reflecting its ancient history, Bihar has some of the finest monuments of Hindu and Mughal architecture. And through the state flows the majestic river Ganga a saga of events of centuries old civilization.
The scenery and climate of the State range from the foot hills of Himalayas, over the vast and fertile plains of the Ganga to the hills, forests and wide plateau. The land and people, fairs and festivals, arts and crafts, flora and fauna of Bihar, are all epitomes of diversity, which enchant and thrill tourists.
Bihar offers to tourists a variegated wealth of Indian Civilization, history and culture compled with enqeuisite scenic beauties and wild life within its precinet are located, places like Rajgir and Patliputra, ancient capital of mighty magadhan empire, Vaishali-the first republican state the world; Bodhgaya where lord Buddha attained the suprime enlightenment, Nalanda-the great seat of international learning and Patna Saheb-the birth place of Guru Govind Singh, the last Guru of the Sikh.
It has basked in the glory of Magadh Empire in the period of Mauryans, Guptas and Pal, Vikramshila University, whose ruins speak of best as this glorious deat of learning was constructed during Pal dynasty.
The land of the Buddha and Mahavira offers you multiplicity of history, architecture, eco-tourism, tribes, wild life, mines, minerals, fairs and festivals, art and crafts and an offbeat cuisine.
B ihar's antiquity is evident from its name, which is derived from "VIHARA" (monastery). It is indeed a land of monasteries. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh shrines abound in this ancient land where India's first major empires rose and fell. Where the ruins of the worlds' earliest university slumbers in the void of time, while modern day giant steel complexes spew fire all the year round. Forty percent of India's mineral wealth lies buried in its boosom. The passage of Ganga, flowing wide and deep enrich the plains of Bihar before distributing in Bengal's deltoid zone.
Among all Indian states, Bihar is the one most intimately linked to the Buddha’s life, resulting in a trail of pilgrimages which have come to be known as the Buddhist circuit. The Buddhist trail begins at the capital city, Patna, where a noteworthy museum contains a collection of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures.
The Khuda Baksh Oriental Library has rare Muslim manuscripts including some from the University of Cordoba in Spain. 40 km away, Vaishali, was the site for the second Buddhist Council is the presence of ruins testify. 90 km south of Patna is Nalanda which translates as the place that confers the lotus’ (of spiritual knowledge). A monastic university flourished here from the 5th to the 11th century. It is said to have contained nine million books, with 2,000 teachers to impart knowledge to 10,000 students who came from all over the Buddhist world.
Lord Buddha himself taught here and Hieun Tsang, the 7th century Chinese traveler, was a student. Ongoing excavations have uncovered temples, monasteries and lecture halls. Rajgir, ‘the royal palace’, 12 km south, was the venue for the first Buddhist Council.
The Buddha spent five years at Rajgir after having attained enlightenment, and many of the remains at Rajgir commemorate various incidents, the hill of Gridhrakuta being perhaps the most important, as this is where the Buddha delivered most of his sermons. Bodhgaya is the spot where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, with the Mahabodhi Temple marking the precise location. Bihar’s Buddhist circuit has modest back-up facilities by way of accommodation, international dining and surface transport.
Magadh rose to glory again during the Guptas(4th and 5th centuries AD) followed by the Palas of Bangal, who ruled until 1197. Muslim rule, which lasted from the 12th to 17th century, has left an indelible mark on Bihar. The British acquired Bihar in 1764 in the Battle of Buxar and ruled until India's Independence 1947. In its early history, from the 6th century BC to 5th century AD, the region was repeatedly the coveted seat of major empires. Ajatshatru, second in the line of the Magadh kings, ruled from Rajgir. The 4th century BC saw the rise of the Maurya dynasty to which Ashoka belonged.
This landlocked state is surrounded by Nepal, Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and comprises four cultural regions-Bhojpur, Mithila, Magadha and Chotanagpur. Rivers Kosi and Gandak from the north and Sone from the south join the Ganga. River Damodar flows through the picturesque Chotanagpur plateau and its valley is the Rohr of India. In the fertile plains, rice, sugarcane, oilseeds, gram, maize, jute, barley and wheat are cultivated. Under the soil, Bihar has either ruins or minerals.
The Vajrasan or Diamond Throne- lying between the Bodhi Tree and the temple, the actual spot where Buddha sat in meditation and attained supreme knowledge- is spectacular. A gilded Buddha smiles upon you from a niche in the wall of the temple, and his footsteps that are carved in stone hold flower offerings from devotes. An atmosphere of serenity and peace pervades in the atmosphere, and it is most likely that the strains of 'Budham Sharanam Gachhami' will be echoing in your mind on your way back from the trip.
The sacred town of Bodh Gaya is unique, not only because Lord Buddha attained Nirvana enlightenment here, but because Bihar is also a land of great antiquity and glorious history.
Buddhism has somehow defined tourism in Bihar. Places like Nalanda, Rajgir, and Lauriya Areraj are closely linked with the times and life of Buddha and his followers. But, Bihar is also a great religious melting pot. The state was a birthplace of Mahavir - 23rd tirthankar of Jainism and the religion started here from Bihar only. Famous Hindu pilgrimage sites like Gaya and Areraj are as much famous as any other Hindu pilgrimage site in India.