Bihar has remained one of the underrated tourist destinations in India. It is ironic that Bihar was once the seat of one of the most prosperous ancient Indian kingdoms and today it suffers listlessness when it comes to heritage tourism in India. We agree, we may have a good amount of foreign tourists swarming Bihar but said unsaid they have all restricted themselves to fewer destinations in this historically affluent state. Here is Bihar from the eye of an avid traveller and for the sake of convenience the list has been split into three sections, so that you do not leave any stone unturned. Without any further ado, let us begin our journey into the historic land of Bihar.
The most popular Mahavihara of the ancient times, a significant Buddhist seat of academic excellence and a modest pilgrim center, all wrapped in a wisp of spirituality, Nalanda continues to be an equally enriching location in the present. It offers vibrant substance of spirituality, history, culture, architecture, and tourism. This city houses one of the world’s oldest and finest residential universities which itself was an architectural masterpiece. Although in ruins, the entire complex presents a pretty picture and is flocked by tourists day in and day out. It has “viharas” or monasteries to the east and “chaiyas” or temples to the west. In addition to this, the complex houses a charming little museum, which has a collection of several of the original Buddhist stupas, Hindu and Buddhist bronzes, coins, terracotta jars, a sample of burnt rice etc. The district is believed to be a cradle of religions. Apart from Buddhism, it is an important center for Jainism, Hinduism, and Sufism as well. Considering the rich heritage and the historical importance, it is a hot tourist destination.
Places to visit: Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall, Pawapuri, Nalanda University, The Great Stupa
One of the most important pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, Bodhgaya is a village in the state of Bihar. It was here under the Bodhi tree that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The place is bustling with pilgrims all through the year who come to pay their homage in the monasteries, shrines and temples. It also attracts tourists from India and abroad owing to its magnificent Buddha statue, the Mahabodhi Temple and the Bodhi tree. One can still find the remnants and descendants of the original Mahabodhi Tree. Bodh Gaya is the single biggest pilgrimage for all sects of Buddhists throughout the world. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a lot of foreign countries, including Japan and China have helped the Indian government in building facilities for the Buddhist pilgrims.
Places to visit: Mahabodhi Temple, Great Buddha Statue, Tibetan Refugee Market, Thai Monastery
Prospering along the southern banks of the river Ganges and set in the conglomerated backdrop of rich ancient heritage and a glorious historical past, Patna boasts of a dominating presence in history and enjoys the distinction of being one of the oldest cities in the world. Originally called as Pataliputra, Patna is currently a hot-bed for the culminating political fortunes. In addition to being one of the major and most popular tourist destinations in India- owing to its plethora of artefacts, monuments and grand architectural heritage which provide a peek in a bygone era, this capital city of Bihar also holds significant religious and spiritual importance. It is a gateway to pilgrimage sites for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists. Patna is also an important pilgrimage centre and it is close to nearby religious centres of Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and the Buddhists like Bodh Gaya, Vaishali, Nalanda and Pawapuri.
Places to visit: Bihar Museum, Golghar, Patna Sahib Gurudwara, Srikrishna Science Centre, Planetarium, Patna Museum
Tomb of Sher Shah Suri, Sasaram
Situated in the town Sasaram in the state of Bihar in India, Tomb of Sher Shah Suri is a stunning mausoleum which has been dedicated to the memory of Emperor Sher Shah Suri. Boasting of Indo- Islamic architecture, the tomb is one of the most popular tourist spots in town and is also known as the ‘Second Taj Mahal of India’ colloquially. Built in red sandstone, the monument is three storeys tall and stands in the centre of a picturesque lake, adding to the ambiance and beauty of it. The construction of the tomb started during the life of Sher Shah Suri itself but was completed 3 months after his death. You can also find remnants of the coloured glazed glass that was used to decorate the walls and pillars. The tomb houses a total of 25 graves.
An ancient city, Madhubani in Bihar is known for the richness in art and culture that the district strives for. Mentioned in the Ramayana, the city is known for the world popular Madhubani paintings whose origin lie here. Madhubani emerged from the Darbhanga district of Bihar in 1972 during the reshuffling of territorial boundaries. This small district is slowly growing as a popular tourist destination among art enthusiasts coming here for Madhubani paintings. With Nepal on the north, Darbhanga to the south, Sitamarhi and Supaul on either side, Madhubani is also an important commercial town in the Madhubani district. The town has multiple temples which are the main attraction points of the town for the locals. However, the town is not very tourist-friendly, and there isn’t much to do if you are thinking of a sightseeing tour.
Places to visit: Kapileshwar Sthan, Nagar Fort, Saurath, Uchaitha, Bhawanipur
Sitamarhi, a town and the district headquarters of the Sitamarhi District in Bihar is the birthplace of the wife of Lord Ram, Sita. Bordered by Nepal in the North, Muzaffarpur in the south, Champaran and Sheohar in the west and Darbhanga and Madhubani in the east, Sitamarhi is a town of great historical importance and has a large number of modern tourist attractions. Rivers like Baghmati, Aghwara, Lakhandei and Manusmara flow through the Sitamarhi District and the northern part of Sitamarhi District is located in the foothills of the Himalaya. The place has a moderate climate and is rich in alluvial soil. Sitamarhi is filled with spots of religious, historic and modern tourist attractions. It is well known for its lac bangles and the world-renowned Madhubani paintings are painted in many places of this district.
Rajgir is town where the air that surrounds its beautiful sceneries carries hints of spirituality and vibrant hues of history with links with both Buddhism and Jainism. Set in a green valley and surrounded by rocky hills, Rajgir is a spiritual town with natural serenity amongst the dense forests, mysterious caves and springs. Rajgir houses many religious destinations which are majorly dedicated to either Buddhism or Jainism. Both Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir have said to spent time here giving it huge spiritual and religious importance. One can visit various ruins, temples and sites here and also spend some time indulging in its refreshing calmness.
Places to visit: Venuvana, Bibbisara’s jail, Rajgir ropeway, Makhdum Kund, Vulture’s Peak at Griddhakuta, Japanese Stupa
This historically significant city of Bhagalpur lies on the southern banks of the river Ganges. Bhagalpur, also known as the silk city, it is the 3rd largest city of Bihar. Bhagalpur is well known for being a major educational centre, apart from being the commercial and political centre. The city nurtures the species of National Aquatic Animal of India, the Gangetic Dolphins with the help of the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary. The city’s history submerges in various Mythologies, and the line between them is blurred than any normal instance, making it a fascination to be explored. Bhagalpur City is located at a distance of about 250 km to the east of Patna, the state capital of Bihar. The most commonly spoken language in Bhagalpur is Angika and Hindi, which are also the official languages of the region. With a fast pace of developments, Bhagalpur is on the way to become a Smart City.
Places to visit: Vikramashila, Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, Mandar Parvat, Budhanath Temple, Ajgaivinath Temple,
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Happy holidays folks!