Mauryan King Ashoka followed Buddhism whole-heartedly and built one of his pillars in Vaishali to commemorate the final sermon of Lord Buddha that took place at this holy site. Like all the pillars of Ashoka, this pillar also has a majestically carved figure of a lion placed at the top facing the northern direction. This direction holds significance as it is believed to be Lord Buddha’s last voyage’s direction. The lion pillar is constructed of a single piece of red sandstone and rises to a height of 18.3 m. Beside the pillar, there is a Buddhist stupa named Ananda Stupa, made of bricks, and a small pond or water tank, known as Ramkund, which is considered to be very sacred by the Buddhists.
One of the significant events in Lord Buddha’s life was when he was offered honey by the monkey chief at the site, where the Ananda Stupa had been constructed. The stupa was erected during the reign of the Mauryan Dynasty and was further developed during the Kushana Period.
For the followers of Buddhism, Vaishali is a very sacred place and was the site of the second Buddhist Council. The ancient city of Vaishali is the place, where Lord Buddha announced his approaching nirvana.
The famous and scared, around 250 years old fully healthy, Bodhi Tree that belongs to the Ficus religiosa species, is located in Gaya, the holy town of Bihar, around 100 km away from the capital city Patna. This large and historic tree also known as “BO”, “Peepal Tree” and “Arasa Maram”, is situated nearby the Mahabodhi Temple Complex. In the eastern side of the tree, is the most important attraction for the Buddhist pilgrims among the four main Buddhist pilgrimage sites – the Mahabodhi Temple.
The temple is designed in Dravidian and Nagara styles and constructed by red stones. The “Bodhi Tree”, it is believed that under which Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the religious instructor, gained spiritual enlightenment and became the great Lord Buddha. The Bodhi tree is also popular as Sri Maha Bodhi locally, where the Buddha seated for 49 days in meditation without moving from the seat (according to the Buddhist Holy books). The Bodhi Day celebration is also a popular tourist attraction of this place, which is celebrated on 8th December every year. The Bodhi Tree and the Mahabodhi Temple are declared as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Golghar or Gol Ghar, locally known as the “Round House”, is located in Patna, Bihar. The construction of this round shaped house was started in 1784, by a Captain of East India Company, Mr. John Garstin and was completed on 20th July 1786. Later, in 2002, the local Government made some development and renovation work. The history behind this structure is, in 1770, around 10 million people were killed by the devastating natural food crisis. Then the British Governor General, Mr. Warren Hastings ordered to start the construction of this large granary to store food grains for the British soldiers but, not for the suffering Indians.
The structure has no pillar, its height is 29 meters and width is around 125 meters. The storage capacity of this granary is around 140,000-ton grains. There are 145 stairs to reach the top of the building and from there, you can see the beautiful flow of the river Ganga. Today, the structure serves as a picnic spot and tourist attraction.
A renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the four major holy shrines devoted to Buddhism, the Mahabodhi Temple is also known as Bodhimanda Vihara (Great Awakening Temple) as it is located in the site, where Lord Buddha, who is believed to be the 9th avatar of Lord Vishnu, had attained spiritual enlightenment, as per the legends. Originally, the temple was built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC when he started following Buddhism. Later on, the temple was rebuilt in the 5th or 6th century BC using only bricks, and the present temple complex extends to an area of around 4.8 hectares and its height reaches to 55 m (180 feet). The huge statue of Lord Buddha sitting in the Bhumisparsa Mudra Asana (Earth Touching Posture), painted in gold, was built by the Pala Kings of Bengal using black stone and can be found in the sanctum of the temple. Situated on the left side of the temple, the Bodhi Tree is a major attraction here.
The Munger Fort is located in Munger, on the south bank of river Ganga, in the state of Bihar. Though it is not clearly mentioned in history when this magnificent fort was built, yet it is said that it was built in the period of the Slave Era in India. In around 1325 – 1351 AD, the fort was under the rule of Muhammad Bin Tughluq. In different periods, different Muslim emperors ruled over this fortress, like Khaljis, Tughlaqs, Lodis, Mughals, Nawabs of Bengal, and finally, the British till 1947. The Fort complex spreads over around 222 acres of rocky area and there are two hills nearby, named Karnachaura and Karanchaura.
The thickness of the inner and outer wall of this fort is - 4 feet and 12 feet respectively. At the entrance of this castle, there is a large main gate called “Lal Darwaza”. You will find a number of historical and religious structures inside the fort complex like the Tomb of Pir Shah Nufa, Palace of Shah Shuja, Kashtaharini Ghat on the Ganga, Chandisthana, Tomb of Mulla Muhammed Said, a rectangular shaped Mound, etc.
Considered to be one of the oldest universities on this planet, Nalanda University, also known as Nalanda Mahavihara, was established in the 5th century CE in the ancient Magadha Kingdom. This residential learning center was the place, where scholars and students from different parts of the world (Tibet, China, Korea, Central Asia, Greece, Persia, etc.) came to gain knowledge and spread the same. Today, the once glorious university is in ruins and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an archaeological site.
The ruins of this scholastic institution comprise the shrines, stupas, viharas, stone carvings and inscriptions, and various rich artworks of the ancient period. This university had been the witness of the development and spread of Buddhism as a prominent religion and tradition. Some of the buildings of this university campus were built by the great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka and the rulers of the Gupta Dynasty. The entire complex is made up of red bricks and the ruins spread over an area of 14 hectares. The Mughals and Turkish Muslim invaders like Bakhtiyar Khalji invaded Nalanda a number of times and robbed it of its glories.
Naulakha Palace is located in the Rajnagar Town, beside the Kamala River, in Madhubani District. This historic palace is also known as “Navlakha Palace” and “Rajnagar palace” locally, which was built by Maharaja Rameshwar Singh, the ruler of Darbhanga area, in the early 19th century. The palace was affected by the heavy earthquake in 1934 and after that incident some modification and development work took place.
There is very little information available about this Hindu palace in history. Mr. Umanath Jha has written a book named “Bital Din Aa Bisral Log”, where he mentioned some records from his childhood memories about this palace and its rulers. In the palace, there is a large hall called “Gasauni Ghar”, where all the paintings and photographs of that period are stored. Here you can view the oldest surviving paintings of Madhubani, painted in the year 1919, during the marriage ceremony of Shrimati Lakshmi Daiji, daughter of Maharaja Rameshwar Singh. There is a seven storied tower in the middle of the castle with two white color houses named Bari Maharani and Chhoti Maharani Palace. Also, the main palace complex has two temples, Durga Temple, situated at the entrance of the palace, and another is Tripura Sundari Temple.
One of the most popular tourist attractions of Patna city is Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, locally known as Patna Zoo, which is considered as one of the largest zoos in the country. It was built in 1972 and opened for public in 1973. The Zoo area covers around 153 acres. The main purposes of constructing this Zoological Park were the conservation of different rare species of animals of the Gangetic Plain, preservation of bio-diversity, exchange and re-habitation of animals, breeding of different widespread species, etc.
At present, the Zoo has nearly about 300 species of trees, herbs, etc. and over 800 animals including Tiger, Leopard, Crocodile, Elephant, Himalayan Black Deer, White Peacock, and many more. Also, the park has a beautiful aquarium, which is another tourist attraction. It has about 35 species of colorful fishes and 5 species of snakes. Visitors can also enjoy the toy train ride, elephant ride, boating, etc. in the Zoo complex.
One of the very popular and famous Sikh religious places in eastern India, Takht Sri Patna Sahib is also known as Harmandir Sahib and is located in Patna, the capital of Bihar. This Gurudwara was the birthplace of the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, born on December 1666. The building was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh during his reign in 1780 to 1839, the first Maharaja of the Sikh Dynasty, followed by the Sikh architecture. Later, on 19th Novembers 1954, some renovation works were done by the Gurudwara authority.
It is said that other respected Sikh Gurus, like Guru Nanak, Guru Tegh Bahadur also visited here. In the main Gurudwara complex, there is a Sikh museum, which contains the sandals of the famous Sikh Gurus, swords, iron arrows of Guru Maharaj, Sikh paintings, swings, and many more. The Sikh holy book “Hukamnamas” of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Gobind Singh has also been conserved here.
The famous historical tourist attraction of eastern India is the Tomb of Sher Shah Suri, who was the founder of the independent Sur Afghan Dynasty. His magnificent tomb, located in Sasaram, is also called the second Taj Mahal of India, Bihar. This floating monument is situated in the middle of a square-shaped man-made lake. The construction of this building was started by Sher Shah Suri in between 1540 to 1545 and after three months of his death, was completed by his son Islam Shah. The architectural style of this construction is the proper example of Indo-Islamic architecture and was designed by Mir Muhammad Alawal Khan. This 122-feet high monument was made of red sandstone and red bricks.
It is considered as one of the largest domes in India and the main chamber is decorated with three arches of imposing heights (22 feet). These arches support the large dome structure very well. This tomb is one of the finest specimens of Afghan architecture in this country.