Things To Do In Rajgir
Rajgir is among the most ancient cities in India. It is located in Bihar and has hills all around. Rajgir is well known for its many holy sites. There are remains of a wall which was created during the times of the Mauryan Empire. Known as the Cyclopean Wall today you will find only the ruins. Here you will find a monastery that was created for Buddha who preached at a nearby hill for several years. There are hot springs too in Rajgir and these have good healing properties. There are several things to do in Rajgir and these are discussed below.
Visit Bimbisara’s Jail
Bimbisara was the King of Magadha between 543 and 492 BC. It was his efforts to expand his kingdom that ultimately led to the later expansion of the Maurya Empire once he annexed the kingdom of Anga. People were just as cruel then as they are now perhaps. Bimbisara’s jail is the place where the son of King Bimbisara (558 – 491 BC), Ajatshatru, confined his father. The saving grace was that from the jail one can see the Japanese Stupa which is located on top of the same hill. The view is very impressive indeed.
See the Sonbhandar Caves
The Sonabhandar Caves are two rock cut caves that are located (3rd-4th Century AD) on the Vaibhava Hills. The caves have statues in black of the Tirthankaras and Lord Buddha. It is believed by the local people that this is where King Bimbisara had his treasury. Some of the inscriptions that one can see on the walls of the caves are said to be the key which will open the doorway. Although no treasures have so far been found, it is believed that the British fired a cannon ball on the front of the cave without yielding any fruitful result. It is also believed that Buddha gave his sermons here to Bimbisara, the reigning monarch of the Magadha Empire.
Visit Saptaparni Caves
The Saptaoarni Caves are also located on the Vaibhava Hills and it is here that the very first Buddhist Council was held with an attendance of more than 500 monks to decide the direction Buddhism would take six months after the death of Buddha. To reach this place one has to take an uphill hike that lasts 40 minutes behind the Lakshmi Narayan Temple, past several Hindu and Jain temples. It is here that Buddha might have meditated as well.
Pawapuri the Holy Site for Jains
Pawapuri is one of the holiest sites for the Jains. This was made famous by Lord Mahavira who stayed in a Rajikshala of King Ajatshatru and later on he was cremated at this place in 500BC. It is said that the rush to collect his ashes was so great that earth was scooped out from the location of his funeral pyre and this big pit became a pond at the centre of which a temple known as Jalmandir was built. There are several other places that are worth visiting nearby such as Gaon Mandir and Samosaran Temple. The Rajgir Dance Festival and Chhath Puja are held here as well.
Visit a Monastery for Snake Worship
The Maniyar Math is located in the centre of the Rajgir valley close to the main road. The structure of the Math is shaped like a stupa which has been provided a shelter through the corrugated shade made of iron and shaped like a cone. The Math has been so named because of the discovery of a shrine during the course of an excavation. The monastery probably was linked to the worship of snakes at some time since there are several statues of what appear to be snake goddesses. It may be of interest to know that Rajgir was referred to in Mahabharata as the home of Mani Naga. One will also find photos of Buddha on the outer walls.
Kundalpur, the Birth Place of Mahavira
Kundalpur which is located just outside the famous Nalanda is said to be the place of birth of Lord Mahavira who was the last of the Jain Tirthankaras. Kundalpur is also the birthplace of Gautam Swamiji, Lord Mahavira’s first disciple. This is an impressive temple that has very beautiful spires and an idol of Bhagwan Mahavira that is 4.5’ tall. The complex also has 72 idols of the Tirthankaras and these idols are supposed to represent 24 idols for each of the ages, past, present and future.
Tapodharma and its Springs
Tapodharma once had an ancient Buddhist Monastery in place, on which a Lakshmi Narayan Mandir has been built. One can find quite a few hot springs at this place and these hot springs are supposed to have properties of healing. Of these springs, the Brahmakund is quite popular and its temperature rises to fairly high levels. In the earlier times, Rajgir was well known for its hot springs that cured people of many medical complaints. Today too there are tourists who are attracted to Tapodharma because of its hot springs.
Take a Ride on the Trolley to the Japanese Stupa
Touted as the oldest ropeway in India, the Rajgir Ropeway was a gift in the 1960s from the Japanese spiritual leader, Fuji Guruji. Visitors will enjoy the amazing experience of riding over the surrounding area below till a height of more than 1000 ft. The ropeway is a boon for those who cannot walk up to the famous Peace Pagoda which is also called the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. The experience takes you to the top of the Ratnagiri Hill, a ride that is thrilling and very memorable.
Visit the Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The Vishwa Shanti Stupa is a monument built as a symbol of world peace by the Japanese in 1969. This is one among the total eighty such peace pagodas that have been built in the world all for the purpose to spread the message of non-violence and peace. This is the oldest peace pagoda in this country and through four statues of Buddha it depicts the different stages in Buddha’s life; birth, enlightenment, preaching and death.
Take a Walk in Holy Venuvana
The story of Venuvana will take you to the days of Buddha, more than 2000 years ago when King Bimbisara is said to have donated this beautiful garden to Buddha during his stay here. You will find a pleasant garden and a pond within with many trees which serve to provide the much needed shade from the heat. There is a Buddha Temple nearby and you will find the park perfect for not only walking around but also for meditating even as you remember the great soul that had walked this area.