Things To Do In Bihar
Bihar is in reality a state with a great past. A land that is fertile, Bihar has the richest history that goes back to the times of Ashoka and the Maurya Dynasty. It is a land that has given the world two great philosophers, Buddha and Mahavira, the founders of Buddhism and Jainism. Here you will find Universities such as Nalanda and Vikramasila that flourished during the reign of Ashoka. During the freedom movement Bihar gave us Khudiram Bose, Chandrashekhar Azad and Prafulla Chaki and post- independence it gave us our first President Dr Rajendra Prasad and the great socialist leader Jai Prakash Narain. There are places to see and many things to do in Bihar. Some of these will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
Admire the Lion Pillar at Vaishali
Vaishali is an important destination for both Buddhists and Jains. In the days of Buddha, Vaishali was prosperous and large. Buddha would quite frequently visit Vaishali in those days and as a matter of fact he delivered his last sermon at Kolhua which is very near Vaishali. Emperor Ashoka built many lion pillars all over the country in 3rd century BC. One of these pillars created to commemorate Buddha’s last sermon is still available in Vaishali.
Explore the Mausoleum of Emperor Sher Shah Suri
Sher Shah Suri’s mausoleum is located at Sasaram, between Bodhgaya and Varanasi. There was a time when Bihar and not Kolkata or Delhi, was the seat of power in India. Several Sufi saints would come to this region and these attracted pilgrims in large numbers. You will therefore find many sacred tombs in Bihar. This mausoleum is that of the Emperor Sher Shah Suri which is at the centre of a big artificial lake and it is attractive since it has been constructed elaborately.
Go Birding at the Beautiful Kanwar Lake
Lovers of birdlife will surely enjoy the trip to India’s largest freshwater oxbow lake, Kanwar Lake, which is located in Begusarai. This Bird Sanctuary is the stopping area for more than sixty different species of migratory birds. You will see the largest number of birds during October till March end. However, from June till September end, the monsoon season, is also a good season since this is when you will find the green plants in full form.
Visit the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya
It is in Bihar that Buddha commenced his journey that ultimately led him to enlightenment. The most important among all the pilgrimages associated with Buddhism is that of Bodhgaya, the place where Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree and attained enlightenment. The exquisite Mahabodhi Temple, the place where Buddha is said to have meditated, is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a beautiful and serene place for visitors to spend some time. There are several Buddhist temples and monasteries in Bodhgaya and you will find this visit very calming.
Contemplate Over the Ruins of Nalanda University
A visit to the ruins of Nalanda University is an essential part of the visitor’s trip to Bihar. Dating back to the 5th century, Nalanda University is among the world’s oldest universities. In its prime Nalanda was a centre of learning for Buddhists who studied here in numbers as large as 10,000 students and monks. The university flourished till the 12th century when Muslim marauders ransacked and set fire to the library. It is understood that more than nine million manuscripts were destroyed in this fire. These ruins are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and one can quite easily visit the site from Rajgir which is nearby.
Appreciate Art in Barabar Caves
The Barabar Caves are located in the hills to the north of Gaya about 24km away. The oldest rock-cut caves in India, the Barabar Caves as well as the artefacts contained therein, date back to the glorious days of the Mauryan Empire, between 322 and 185 BC. You will find the evidence of Jain and Buddhist art in the caves which have inscriptions and designs on the ceilings and walls.
Experience the Chhath Festival
The Chhath Festival that is celebrated in a huge manner in Bihar is a festival that takes place during October/November period over six days when the Sun and his sister are both worshipped and celebrated lavishly. During this period there will be prayers chanted, and processions to the Ganges followed by a Bath in the river. An ancient Vedic festival for the Hindus, Chhath is celebrated primarily in the eastern states of India as well as by the people of Nepal. Huge numbers of people come from various parts of the world just to participate in these festivities that are very colourful and lively.
Take a Ride on the Aerial Tram to the Stupa in Rajgir
Rajgir is one of the places where Buddha spent a few years after his enlightenment. It is one of the popular destinations for pilgrimage for Jains, Hindus and Buddhists. Rajgir has several caves and shrines as well as the remains of old temples. The Vishwa Shanti Stupa is one of the many attractions for visitors to Rajgir. You can take the aerial tram to stupa and then walk down the hill to the Vulture’s Peak, a place where Buddha would preach to his many disciples. You will enjoy the cable car ride which takes about 20min one way. You can also use the stairs which will take about 30min.