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Bihar - History

Bihar has a very ancient glorious and colorful history. Several of its cities are very ancient having mythological background and finds mention in the Vedas and Puranas. Bihar was the main scene of activities of Buddha and 24 Jain Tirthankaras. Great rulers of the State before the Christian era were Bimbisar Udayin who founded the city of Patliputra, Chandragupta Maurya and Emperor Ashoka under whom, Magadha and its capital Patliputra became famous all over the world. With the death 'of Ashoka, its fortunes declined. However, under the Gupta emperors, it regained its lost glories. During the medieval period the Muslim invaders made in-roads here. The first to conquer Bihar was Mohammed-bin-Bakhtiar Khaliji. The Khalijis were followed by the Thghluqs and then Mughals. Taking advantage of the disintegration of the Mughal Empire the British established their footholds in Bihar with the battle of Plassey in 1757. Through successive battles and annexations the British consolidated their position till 1911. Bihar formed part of the Bengal Presidency when on 12 December 1911; a separate province of Bihar and Orissa was created. In 1936 Bihar was made a separate province.

Patna

History and heritage of capital city of Patna goes back to more thanl two millennium years. Patna had been the regal seat of governance for successive kingdoms each ruler was ascended in power, gave his capital a new name-Kusumpur, Pushapapura, Patliputra, Azeemabad but now being called Patna. A continuous history ranging from 8-7 century BC to present times a record claimed by very few cities in the world. From 6th century BC to 6th century AD Ajatshatru, second in the line of Magadha kings, built a small fort at Pataligram at the confluence of the Ganga and Sone rivers. This later becomes the famous

Mauryan metropolis of Pataliputra and was ruled by Chandragupta Maurya and his grandson Ashoka who becomes immortal for the spread of Buddhism.Today, Patna is an important business center of eastern India and also the gateway to the Buddist and Jain Pilgrim centers of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya and Pawanpuri.

Places of Interest

(1) Kumrahar (2) Golgarh (3) Har Mandir Takht (4) Marty’s Memorial (5) Pathar Ki Masjid (6) Sher Shah Suri Masjid (7) Khuda Baksh Oriental Library (8) Sadaqat Ashram (9) Maner (10) Agam Kuan (11) Jalan Museum (12) Patna Museum.

Buddhist Circuit

Gaya

About 92 km from Patna, Gaya is one of the most important pilgrim centers for the Hindus since times immemorial. It is believed that a Hindu will reach heaven if his post – cremation rites are performed under the celebrated ‘Akshayobat’ or immortal banyan tree standing in the courtyard of Vishnupad temple. Believed to be built on the footsteps of Lord Vishnu the grand temple was removed by a Ahalyaba, queen of Indore.

Bodhgaya

Serene and quiet this tiny little village, holiest among the Buddhist religious centres is Bodhgaya.

It was here that the quest of Prince Siddharth was fulfilled after years of quest for the ultimate truth; the supreme enlightenment and he became 'THE BUDDHA’, the enlightened one. Thus, in a way, Buddhism was born under the Peepal Tree here. The tree still

appears to radiate an aura of abiding serenity, spiritual solitude and peace. It is believed that the original Bodhi tree sprang up on the day of Buddha’s birth. Lying in sylvan solitude this sacred place is situated on the banks of Niranjana river (modern Falgu). It is 13 km from Gaya.

Places of Interest

(1) The Bodhi Tree (2) Mahabodhnini Temple (3) Vajrasana (4) The Ancient Railing (5) Chankaramana (6) Animeshlochana (7) Ratnagar and (8) Lotus Tank.

Rajgir

Rajgir is located in a verdant valley surrounded by rocky hills. An aerial ropeway provides the link with a hill top sputum “Peace Pagoda" built by the Japanese. On one of the hills is the cave of Saptaparni where the first Buddhist Council was held. Hot water springs here have curative properties and are sacred to the Hndus.Rajgir is 10 km south of Nalanda, sacred to the memory of the founder of both Buddhism and Jainism as the Buddha lived here in the sixth century BC.Once a great city, Rajgir is just a village today but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain, like the cyclopean wall that encircles the town and the marks engraved in rock that local folklore ascribes to Lord Krishna’s chariot.

Places of Interest

(1) Amaravana or Jivaka’s Mango Garden (2) Venuvana (3) Ajatshatru’s Fort (4) Bimbisara’s Jail (5) Swarna Bhandar (6) The Cyclopean Wall (7) Griddakuta Or Vulture’s Peak (8) Jain Temples (9) Hot Springs and (10) Pippala Cave.

Nalanda

Nalanda has a very ancient history. Lord Vardhamana Mahavira and Lord Buddha had frequently visited it in 6 th century BC.It is also supposed to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of the chief disciples of Lord Buddha.

Hieum Tsang, the Chinese traveler of the seventh century, says, that according to tradition the place owned its name to a Naga saint of the same name who resided in a tank here. The University of Nalanda was founded in the 5 th century BC by the Gupta emperors and recorded as the world’s earliest university. There were thousands of students and teachers. It was a great center of learning and students from foreign countries were also attracted to this university. Nalanda acquired a celebrity spread all over the east as a center of Buddhist theology and education activities. The ruins extend over a large area and represent only a part of the extensive establishment.

Places of Interest

(1) The Nalanda University Archaeological Complex (2) The Nalanda Archaeological Museum.

Vaishali

Vaishali has a past that pre-dates recorded history. It is believed that the town derives its name from king Vishal whose heroic deeds are narrated in the Hindu epic Ramayana. However the history records that around the time Patliputra was the centre of political activity in the Gangetic plains, Vaishali became the centre of trade. Lying on the north bank of the Ganga it was the seat of the republic of Vajji. Vaihshali is credited with being India's first and the world's finest republic to have a duly elected assembly of representatives and efficient administration in those ancient days.

Lord Buddha had visited Vaishali and announced his approaching. Mahaparinirvana' (death). And a hundred years later the second Buddhist council was held here. According to one belief, the 24th Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira was born at Vaishali. The Chinese travellers Fa-Hien and Hieun Tsang had also visited Vaishali in the early 5th and 7th century BC respectively and had written about the city in their memoirs.

Places of Interest

(1) Ashoka Pillar (2) Bawan Pokhar Temple (3) Buddha Stupa I (4) Buddha Stupa II (5) Raja Vilas Ka Garh (6) Kundpur (7) Coronation Tank

 

   
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