Travel in Rajasthan, India
A Rajasthani Kid is playing "Ek Tara"
Thar Desert Jaisalmer in Background, Rajasthan, India

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Bihar the land of Buddha, derives its name from the word Vihara, meaning monastery. Located in the central and lower Gangetic plateau in the North-eastern Sector of India, Bihar is bound by Nepal on the North, West Bengal on the east, Uttar Pradesh on the west and Jharkhand, bifurcated from Bihar in 2000, on the south.

Fast Facts of Bihar : -


173,877 sq. km.
Population 86.3 Million
Capital Patna
Climate in Summer March to June - [Warm]
Climate in Monsoon July to August - [Warm]
Clothing in Summer Cotton
Clothing in Winter Light Woolens or Cotton
Languages Spoken Hindi
Best Time to Visit October to March

History of Bihar
Bihar has a very ancient and glorious history to boast with. The early history of Bihar is mostly lost as the major events and happenings were not documented. The earliest documented history of Bihar is provided by the Jain and Buddhist texts, which shed light to the sixteen Mahajanapadas those flourished during the 6th century BC. Vaishali, Anga, Rajgriha, Pataliputra, Nalanda, and Mithila are just a few of the places those knit the history of ancient India.

Vaishali in northern Bihar, the centre of the Lichchavis kingdom is rated as the most ancient and credited as the world's first republic. By the 5th century BC, the focus of history shifted to Magadha with its capital at Rajgriha and later Pataliputra. Rajgriha witnessed the first Buddhist Council and the conversion of the Mauryan king Bimbisara to Buddhism. During the reign of Ashoka the Great, Magadha and its fabled capital Pataliputra became renowned all over the world. After the death of Ashoka, Magadha lost its glory. During the reign of the Guptas, Magadha regained its importance. The Gupta Empire in 4th century AD is considered as the golden age of Indian history.

 Under the Sultans of Delhi and the Mughals, Bihar was reduced to the status of a province. When Sher Shah defeated Humayun and took over Delhi, Bihar came into limelight again. Sher Shah who hailed from Bihar founded Patna, the present state capital on the site of the ancient capital Pataliputra and gave the country an efficient administration. After Sher Shah, Bihar became part of the Mughul Empire and was peaceful and prosperous under Akbar and other Mughul Emperors.

With the decline of Mughals, Bihar fell into the hands of the Nawabs of Bengal. Under British, Bihar was part of the Bengal Presidency. In 1911, Bihar and Orissa were separated from Bengal Presidency. In 1936 they became separate states. After independence, the state of Bihar was formed with Patna as the capital. On 14th Nov. 2000, the southern Bihar consisting of 18 districts were bifurcated to create a new state named Jharkhand modifying the bounderies of the state of Bihar.

Bihar has a rich cultural heritage. The predominant themes are from the myths and legends of Hinduism. The Hindu deities, Lord Rama and His consort, Seeta, and Lord Shiva and His consort, Parvati, form the main theme of folk paintings. Bihar, a land of many Buddhist Monasteries is also known as 'The Land of Buddha'.

The beautiful stories of the ancient times are depicted in the exquisite handicrafts of Bihar.

Madhubani Painting

 One of the art forms of Bihar, the Madhubani School of Painting, has lately received much attention and poularity. Madhubani, in the heart of the Mithila region, had a rich tradition of wall paintings done by the village women with vegetable dyes. An artist encouraged them to try their wall paintings on paper and since then Mithila paintings gained ground. These line paintings in primary colors normally depict village scenes, human and animal forms, gods and goddesses.

Patna Qalam
Patna Qalam is a very popular School of Painting of Bihar. This offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. With the decline of the Mughals, the Delhi artists migrated to Murshidabad. Some of them came to Patna and practiced their craft following a style that gradually came to be known as the Patna Qalam. The style is famous for its soft colors and the use of hand made paper or mica sheets. Most of these paintings depict the life of the people of Bihar.

Folk Arts
Chhau Dance

The simple tribal people of Bihar express their creative joy through the Chhau dance, which was originally a war dance, preformed in order to perfect fighting techniques. It has, over the years, evolved into a narrative ballet.

Jat-Jatin Dance

Jat-Jatin Dance of the Mithila region is performed by the Harijans where one person performs the role of Jat (the husband) and Jatin (the wife) wearing masks and goes through the story of their life.


Bidesia is another form of dance drama that is extremely popular in the Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar.

Vidyapati Songs

The region of Mithilanchal is famous for the songs of Vidyapati (famous poet of early medieval age) those can be heard even now in the evenings from several homes in the region. Bhojpuri folksongs are popular in Bihar and second to none when it comes to beats and rhythm.


Villages around Bodhgaya create fascinating handicrafts. Fantastic bamboo articles, leather works, statues made up of white metal, wooden toys and baskets made from cane and bamboo are available in plenty.

Bhagalpur is famous for its silk industry and is considered to be one of the best silk producing centres in India, in manufacturing silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products. This silk is of a distinct and special type. It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.

Other crafts of Bihar include Sujni embroidery, lac bangle making, and creation of decorative and utility items of Seenki (a local dried grass).

Bihar is also famous for the cotton dhurries and curtains produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Bihar-Sharif areas

Though Bihar celebrates almost all the North India festivals and National festivals, it has a few festivals of its own, unique to the state.

Pataliputra Mahotsava

Every year, in the month of March, Patna celebrates Pataliputra Mahotsava. During this festival, Patna comes alive with colourful Parades, sports, dance and musical events.

Chhath Festival

Chhath is an important festival of the state and is celebrated six days after Diwali. People from all castes will stand together in the river and worship the sun god. There are several folktales, songs, and special sweets that make this festival a unique experience.


The Pind-daan Performed by the Gayawals in Gaya, it is considered to be an obligation of all devout Hindus to visit this place after the death of their parents, a mandatory rite believed to bring salvation to the departed souls. Though the pind-daan can be performed almost any time of the year, people prefer to do it during Pitrapaksha, which is the period just before Navratri and generally falls in September.

Saurath Sabha

In the summer month of June, the people of Mithila in the village of Saurath organize a unique marriage mart in a mango grove. It is a unique gathering of Mithila Brahmins from all over India. During this fair, parents of marriagable children come here and negotiate and settle a record number of marriages for their offsprings.

Sonepur Cattle Fair

Sonepur is the venue of a two week long grand cattle fair held in the month of October/November. The fair is ranked, perhaps, as the largest cattle fair in Asia. Even elephants are changed hands. In addition to animal trade numerous shows and performances are also conducted. Visitors also pay homage at the nearby temple of Hariharnath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Places of interest in Patna

Patna rests on the southern bank of the Ganges. The Mahatma Gandhi Seti, one of the longest bridges in the world at 7.5km, crosses the Ganges, 5 km to the west of the city. It is the capital city of Bihar, an important business centre in eastern India and more significantly, is the gateway to the Budhist and Jain pilgrim centres of Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Vaishali, Rajgir and Pawapuri.

Patna is airlinked with Calcutta, New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. It is linked by rail with New Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Calcutta and many other major cities. All-weather motorable roads connect Patna with the rest of Bihar. There are also regular inter-state bus services.

Patna Museum

This excellent museum contains metal and stone sculptures dating back to the Maurya and Gupta periods, terracotta figures and archaeological finds from sites such as Nalanda. It also houses the world's longest fossilised tree, 16 metres Tall and 200 million years old.


This amazing beehive shaped building was built in 1786 by Captain John Garstin at the instigation of the British administrator Warren Hastings. Standing at about 25 metres, with steps winding around the outside to the top, from where one gets a good view of the city and the Ganges.

Kumrahar Excavations

The remains of Pataliputra as well as the ancient capital of Ajatasatru, Chandragupta and Ashoka have been uncovered here.

Har Mandir

This is one of the holiest Sikh shrines in the state. Built entirely of white marble, it marks the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and last of the Sikh gurus was born in 1660.

Qila House

Built on the foundations of Sher Shah's fort, Qila House(Aka Jalan museum) contains an impressive private collection of anitques.

Khuda Baksh Oriental Library

Founded in 1900, this library has a renowned collection of very rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Mughal and Rajput paintings.

Mahaveer Mandir

Non Hindus are welcome to this modern temple dedicated to the popular god Hanuman. At night this place lits up in garish pink and neon.

Sher Shahi

This heavy domed masjid as built by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah in 1545 and is the oldest mosque in Patna. Other mosques include the Pathar ki Masjid and the Riverbank Madrassa.

Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park

Established in 1969 as a Botanical Garden, this park has been developed as Biological Park since 1973. The park is classified as one of the 16 large zoos in the country. The park has more than 300 species of trees, herbs and shrubs. The zoo has more than 70 species of animals. There are more than 800 animals in the zoo. This park also has an Aquarium and a Snake House.

Other places of interest in Patna are: Bihar Institute of Handicrafts and Designs, Birla Mandir, Nawab Shahid-Ka-Maqbara, Pachim Darwaza and Padri-Ki-Haveli.

Places of Interest in Gaya

Gaya is one of the most important pilgrimage places for the Hindus in Bihar. It is believed that a Hindu will reach heaven if his last rites are offered under the celebrated 'Akshayabat' or immortal banyan tree, standing in the yard of Vishnupad temple. Believed to be built on the footsteps of Vishnu, the grand temple was renovated by Ahalyabai, queen of Indore.

Barabar Caves

The Barabar and Nagarjuni hills are situated 41 kms from Bodhgaya. these historical hills contain seven rock-cut caves, 4 of which are in the Barabar hills. These caves which bear details of the life of Buddha were carved out from solid rocks.
Gaya has a new airport to assist the tourists who are bound to Bodhgaya. Gaya is also an important railway junction. There are bus services from all important towns of Bihar.

Places of Interest in Bodhgaya

 Bodhgaya is considered to be the holiest and most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. It is here that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree around 2540 years ago. This sacred place is situated on the banks of the river Niranjana, around 13 kms from Gaya town.

Gaya is the nearest airport. Gaya is also is the nearest railway junction. There are bus services from all important towns of Bihar.

Mahabodhi Temple

Standing adjacent to a descendent of the original bodhi tree under which Buddha meditated on the excesses of life and formulated his philosophy of a balanced approach to it, this temple is a place of pilgrimage to all Buddhists. A sapling of the original Bodhi tree was carried to Srilanka by Sangamitra, daughter of the Emperor Ashoka. That tree flourishes there and in turn a cutting from it was carried back to Bodhgaya when the original tree died.

The Mahabodhi Temple stands on the site of a temple erected by Ashoka in the third century BC. Topped by a 50m pyramidal spire, the ornate structure houses a large gilded image of Buddha. The total height of the temple is 170 ft and on top of the temple are chatras which symbolise the sovereignty of religion. The entire courtyard is studded with a large number of stupas of great variety - votive, decorative, memorative.

Places of interest in Rajgir

This was the capital of the Magadha empire until Ajatasatru, son of King Bimbisara, moved it to pataliputra, now patna, in the 5th century BC. Today it is a minor holiday centre. In winters tourists are drawn by the hot springs and healthy climate. Rajgir is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since Buddha spent 12 years here, and the first Buddhist council after Buddha attained Nirvana was held here. It is also an important place for Jains, as mahavira spent some time in Rajgir and the hills with Digambara shrines.

The nearest airport is Gaya. Road links Rajgir to Gaya and Nalanda (19 Km). Nearest railhead is Gaya.


Site of the Royal physician Jivaka's dispensery, where the Buddha was once brought to have a wound dressed by him.

Ajatasatru's Fort

This was built by Ajatasatru, who was King of Magadha during Buddha's time, some time in the 6th century BC.

The Cyclopean Wall

Built of massive undressed stone, this wall was once 40 km long and encircles ancient Rajgir.The wall is one of the few pre-Mauryan structures ever to be found.


Also known as Vulture's peak, this was the place where the Buddha set in motion his second wheel of law. For three months every year during the rainy season, the Buddha preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples from this site.

Swarna Bhandar

 Two cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers is believed to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; this 'doorway' is supposed to lead to king Bimbisara treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhalipi or shell script, etched into the 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 chamber bears a few traces of seated and standing guards etched into the outer wall.

Places of Interest in Nalanda

Founded in the 5th century BC, Nalanda was one of the world's great universities and an important Buddhist centre. When renowned chinese scholar and traveller Hieun Tsang visited Nalanda between 685BC and 762BC, 10,000 monks and students resided here. Nalanda was frequently visited by Lord mahavira and lord Buddha in the 6th century BC.

Patna, 90 km away is the nearest airport. Nalanda can be reached by rail and road from other major towns of Bihar.

Nalanda university archaeological complex

The entire excavation area stretches to around 14 hectares. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes north to south. On either side of this walkway one can find monasteries and temples. A small chapel retains a half broken statue of the Buddha.

The Nalanda archaeological museum

This place houses the Nalanda university seal, sculptures and other remains found at the site. It also contains a number of small Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and some undamaged statues of the Buddha.

Nava Nalanda Mahavira

This is a relactively new institute, which is devoted to the study of pali literature and buddhism. A number of foreign students come here to study.

Hieun Tsang memorial hall

One of the newest buildings here, it was built as a peace pagoda by the chinese. Hieun tsang spent 5 years here as student and teacher.

Places of Interest in Pawapuri

ALso known as Apapuri, the sinless town, this is the place where Mahavira, the final thirthankar and founder of Jainism passed away. He was cremated here around 500 BC. It is said that the demand for his ashes was so great that a large amount of soil was removed around the funeral pyre, creating a lotus filled tank. The Jalmandir, a large marble temple was later built in the middle of the tank and is now one of the major pilgrimage spots for jains. Patna, 90 kilometres away is the nearest airport. The nearest rail heads are Rajgir and Gaya.

Places of Interest in Vaishali

As long ago as the 6th century BC, Vaishali was the capital of a republic. it is credited with being the world's first republic to have elected member of an assembly. Mahavira, the founder of jainism, was born here, and the Buddha preached his last sermon here. It also has a small musuem.

Regular bus services connect Vaishali to Patna (55 km). Nearest railheads are Hajipur (35 km) and Muzaffarpur (36 km). Nearest airport is Patna.

Ashokan Pillar

 The Lion Pillar at Kolhua, was built by Emperor Ashoka. It is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, surmounted by bell shaped capital, 18.3m. high. A life-size figure of a lion is placed on top of the pillar. The pillar is well-preserved and intact. There is a small tank here known as Ramkund. One can also find a few dilapidated stupas in Vaishali.

Places of Interest in Sasaram

Sasaram is situated on the grand Trunk Road, the famous Indian highway built by Sher Shah in the 16th centuary. The impressive mausoleum of Sher Shash who died in 1545 is the main attraction in Sasaram. Built with red sandstone in the middle of an artificial pond, the mausoleum stands 46m tall and has a dome of 22m span that is 4m wider than the Taj Mahal.

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