The name of the state itself speaks for itself and it antiquity. Bihar comes from the word Vihara which means monastery that actually makes up for much of Bihar as a tourism spot. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, Sikh shrines abound in this ancient land where few of India’s major empires rose, ruled and fell.
The state is surrounded by Nepal, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Bihar is an amalgamation of three distinct regions: Magadh, Mithila, and Bhojpur.
Bihar is the most intimately linked to Buddha’s life, offering a series of pilgrimages popularly known as the Buddhist circuit which starts at Patna. The capital city exhibits a museum that has a collection of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures as well as the ashes of Lord Buddha preserved in a terracotta urn. The KhudaBaksh Oriental Library has rare Muslim manuscripts that include some from the University of Cordoba, Spain.
Around 40kms from Patna stands Vaishali which was the site for the second Buddhist Council and is a tourist’s delight for the stupas and architectural remains. Nalanda is situated around 90 kms from Patna that dates back as the oldest residential university in the world that flourished between 5th and 11th century. It proudly contained 9 million books with 2000 teachers and 10,000 students who travelled from all over the world. Lord Buddha preached here and the Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang was a scholar here. Excavations reveal that there were several uncovered temples, monasteries and lecture halls within the premise.
Few kms down south from Nalanda is Rajgir which was the venue for the first Buddhist Council. Buddha is said to have spent 5 years at Rajgir after attaining enlightenment. Many of the remains at Rajgir speak for various incidents of Buddha’s life. The Hill of Gridhrakuta is one of the most important ones as Buddha had delivered most of his sermons here.
Bodhgaya is another spot to be explored as it is where Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, which is marked by the Mahabodhi Temple on the precise location.
Bihar displays a culture and tradition which is mostly religious and high in art, especially the Madhubani art. The Sonepur Fair, RajgirMahotsav and Patna Film Festival are few of the festivals of different genres.
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