5 Amazing Tourist Destinations of Bihar

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There’s no denying the fact that the still relatively undeveloped Bihar is making significant strides in developing its places of tourist attractions, thanks to proactive steps being taken by the government. As a result, the state has become more successful in drawing more visitors to it, each passing year. The main thrust has been towards the promotion of Bihar’s many religious sites, the most prominent ones having to do with Buddhism. The following is a list of 5 most important tourist attractions and places to visit in Bihar.

1. Bodhgaya and the Mahabodhi Temple 

Bihar is where the Buddha gained enlightenment and it’s also exactly where it’s possible for you to follow in his sacred footsteps. Bodhgaya is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage place in the world because this is where the Buddha became enlightened while he was meditating underneath a bodhi tree.

Mahabodhi Temple

The Mahabodhi Temple, a magnificent structure, which is also a World Heritage Site as declared by UNESCO, marks the spot. You will be struck by the serenity of this place and would like to spend some time here. Bodhgaya also has many Buddhist monasteries and temples, with different architectural styles. If you have a real interest in Buddhism, you’ll find plenty of courses and retreats here. Bodhgaya is located 110 kilometres south of Patna.

2. Gaya

The main attraction of Gaya is the Vishnupad Temple, which has a huge footprint of Lord Vishnu imprinted on the rock. Pilgrims come to Gaya for performing the holy “Pinda Dan” ritual for their deceased elders, which Lord Ram and his wife Sita also are believed to have carried out there. People perform this ritual to liberate the souls of the deceased, and also to provide salvation and release from rebirth. Gaya is located 98 kilometres south of Patna.

3. Ruins of the Nalanda University

This place is an important attraction on Bihar’s Buddhist Circuit. The ruins of Nalanda University date back to the 5th century, thus it can be safely argued that it’s one of the world’s oldest universities. Nalanda was a great centre for Buddhist learning with an estimated 10,000 students and monks. In the 12th century, it was ransacked by Muslim invaders and its library was set on fire, in which more than 9 million manuscripts are believed to have been destroyed. 

Nalanda University

The chief highlight of these ruins is the pyramid-shaped Stupa of Sariputra, surrounded by steps and sculptures. The ruins were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2016, making it the second one in Bihar. Nalanda ruins are located 80 kilometres southeast of Patna.

4. Rajgir

Rajgir is where Lord Buddha spent several years after becoming enlightened. There’s a lot to see here, as this place has many historical sites, shrines, temples, and caves. 

Rajgir

There’s an aerial tramway/ropeway uphill to the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. You can walk back down the hill and get to visit Vulture’s Peak, where Buddha preached his disciples. Other places of interest are the remnants of the ancient stone Cyclopean wall, constructed by Mauryan rulers, that used to surround Rajgir. There are several hot springs with medicinal properties, which also attract many visitors. Towards the end of December, an annual Rajgir Mahotsav classical music and dance festival takes place. Rajgir is best reached from Bodhgaya and Patna.

5. Vaishali

Vaishali is yet another Buddhist and Jain pilgrim destination of importance. Lord Buddha frequented this city, which was, at his time, large and prosperous. He also preached his last sermon at the nearby Kolhua. Ashoka, the famous emperor, built a famous lion pillar there, one of his many, in the 3rd century BC, to commemorate the occasion. It is also widely believed by many that Lord Mahavira, the 24th, and the last Jain teacher, was born in the vicinity of Vaishali, although this is debated.

Vaishali, Bihar

Among the attractions here are another Vishwa Shanti Stupa (six of these world peace pagodas have been constructed in India, plus a small archaeological museum. Vaishali is located 60 kilometres north of Patna and you can do a round trip in a day.