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Bihar Tourism And Travel Guide
11° C / 51.8° F
November to March
3 to 5 Days
Jay Prakash Narayan Airport Patna
Bihar’s history is definitely among the richest of all the states in India. The earliest date goes back to the days of the epic Ramayana in which Sita was born in Mithila in Bihar. More recently both Buddha and Mahavira preached in this state during the period around 400BC. While Buddha created Buddhism which spread globally, Mahavira did the same for Jainism.
It is in Bihar that we hear of great republics such as Videha and Vaishali or Magadha. Again it was Bihar that saw the birth of great empires such as that during Chandragupta Maurya and Ashok with his Magadha kingdom which had Pataliputra as the capital. The first President of India, Dr Rajendra Prasad was from Bihar and so was Jayprakash Narain, the great socialist leader. Tourism in Bihar is hence rich and should be richer still with some improvements. The travel guide for Bihar is discussed in the following paragraphs.
How to Reach
Bihar is a state in the eastern part of India that borders Nepal. It has a land area of 99,200 sq km and a population of 9.9 cr. The capital of Bihar is Patna. The state is well connected with highways that are maintained well and roads that enable access to various cities that lie in between. There are five domestic and one international airport in Bihar. The rail service inside the state connects very well with the rest of the country. Travel inside Bihar for visitors will therefore be reasonably efficient.
Bihar had a total length of 4838km National Highways as per 2017 data. There are many State Highways too besides other roads between towns and villages. The NH31 passes through Danapur and Patna and its branches go to Nawada and Barauni. South and North Bihar are interconnected with an excellent road link. Patna has good links with Rajgir and Bodhgaya while also connecting Ranchi and Siliguri.
There are 250 rail stations inside Bihar. Patna for instance has an excellent railway network with Mumbai and Delhi besides main cities that include Guwahati and Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore as well as Varanasi among many others. Travel within Bihar by rail is also easy with the important cities such as Gaya and Patna, Nalanda and Samastipur all well covered.
Bihar has an International airport in Gaya with five other domestic airports that include Raxaul, Munger, Patna, Jogbani and Muzzaparpur. There are yet other airports that are available for use by the defence sector. Visitors will therefore not be constrained for flights within the state of Bihar.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
The climate of Bihar is more or less the same as that of the other nearby states such as UP and MP. Summer is not suited for visitors because of extremely high temperatures. Monsoon brings plenty of rain and although you get relief from the heat of the summer the streets get flooded and it may not be pleasant for visitors to move around. The best time to visit Bihar is in winter that is between November and March. During the winter the night temperature plummets to 0°C in certain areas while the day temperature remains at a pleasant 10-20°C.
Summer in Bihar fluctuates between moderate and hot. The summer begins in March and thereafter it continues till the state generally gets its first showers in the month of June. The hottest month is generally in May when temperatures may climb to as much as 50°C. The days then are invariably dusty and it is very dry and scorching hot. Life is quite unbearable. Visitors should avoid summer for a visit to Bihar.
Monsoon follows summer in Bihar just like it does in all the parts of the subcontinent. Rains cool down the state and bring respite from the heat. These months last from July till September and Bihar is generally very wet all over the state. Bihar receives large amounts of rainfall mainly because of its proximity to the Himalayas. At some places in the state a flood-like situation may also arise during the monsoon period. This period should generally be avoided for a visit to Bihar.
Winter (November –March):
Winters are great in Bihar. The season begins in November and lasts till March. The peak of winter may bring night temperatures as low as 0°C at places in the state while the day temperatures may hover around a pleasant 10-20°C. The night temperatures are fairly cold and with cold winds blowing the temperature drops rapidly. During the peak of winter one might even see ground frost on cold mornings. Winter is the perfect time to visit Bihar as long as you are well clothed with woollens.
Things to Do
Bihar is a state with a very impressive past and this past has been influenced by mainly Buddhism and Jainism. Therefore, visitors must be prepared to see several monasteries, temples and ruins that go back two thousand years and more.
Visit Bodhgaya and the Mahabodhi Temple:
The Mahabodhi Temple Complex is among the four most important of the holy sites that are related to the life of Buddha. The present day complex is one that has been rebuilt many times over but the first of the temples was the one built by Ashoka in 3rd Century BC. This complex is one of the most prized sites in the country and must be visited by all.
Admire the Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Rajgir:
The Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir was built in 1969, the purpose of the construction was for promotion of global peace. This pagoda has four statues of Buddha and these reflect the four phases that were of great importance in the life of Buddha. The pagoda is a fine example of Japanese architecture in this country.
Visit Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall, Kundalpur:
Kundalpur is a village in West Champaran district of Bihar. It is here that a memorial has been built for the famous traveller from China, Hiuen Tsang, who had visited Nalanda in 5th century AD. Hiuen Tsang stayed on for twelve years in Nalanda so impressed was he with the famous university there. The memorial is maintained well and is informative too. There is a large statue of Hiuen Tsang in the courtyard. The meditation hall details all that Hiuen Tsang had achieved and also about his travels while in India.
Study Art in Barabar Caves, Sultanpur:
It is understood that the Barabar Caves at Sultanpur are the oldest among all the caves cut out of rocks. These caves go back to the times of the Mauryan Empire. They are situated on top of two hills known as Nagarjuni and Barabar and these have several touches of art that belong to the Buddhist and Jain religions. There are four caves on Barabar Hills while Nagarjuni Hills have three caves. The caves are all polished well and there are inscriptions and designs all over the ceilings and walls.
Go Birding at Kanwar Lake, Begusarai:
The Kanwar Lake is located in Begusarai, Bihar. It is India’s largest freshwater Oxbow Lake. The Bird Sanctuary at this lake is a haven for some sixty species of migratory as well as domestic birds. However, it is possible that it is becoming difficult to maintain this sanctuary efficiently. It is now being attempted to implement certain radical changes in the sanctuary so that the deficiencies are corrected. The monsoon season is of course the best period for you to be there since there will be greenery all around and birds will be in plenty rummaging for aquatic insects and crustaceans.
Visit the Ruins of Nalanda University:
Visitors must visit the ruins of the 5th Century Nalanda University on their trip to Bihar. Among the oldest universities in the world, Nalanda was the principal centre of learning for Buddhists who came in thousands as students and monks to study. Till the 12th century Nalanda was an active university but then Muslim invaders attacked the place and set it on fire. Today these ruins, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage, can be visited from Rajgir, located nearby.
Bihar is a state which has numerous kinds of foods that people are fond of. Some of these foods are recipes from the states nearby including Nepal and Bengal. Among the special delicacies from Bihar are:
- Litti Chokha
- Laung Latika
- Chuda and Chana Gugni
- Mutton Kebab
- Sattu and
- Dal Bhari Puri among many others.
Some of the popular restaurants in Patna include 17 Degrees, Bansi Vihar and The Frying Pan. If you are in Bodhgaya, you could try Nirvana, which is a Vegetarian Café, Be Happy Café for pizzas and Tibet Om Café for their noodles and momos. In Maya Heritage Restaurant you could try international foods as well as some of the local delicacies.
Bihar is a great place for shopping. Visitors should mainly buy products from the Government Emporia and from the large number of private shops one will find in Patna as well as other cities. Products that one could go for include handicraft and local products. Several shops stock these items in large quantities and varieties. Special purchases would include Madhubani paintings that illustrate images of Hindu gods, goddesses and local deities. One can pick up jewellery using stones and beads besides miniatures and wall hangings that are hand painted. One can also find good quality products in leather, cane and bamboo as well as fabric applique work. Ladies will be impressed with the high quality of workmanship in Bihar’s cotton and silk fabrics.