The lesser known Indian state of Bihar is often ignored by the general travelers who usually prefer to visit the other states of India such as Kerala, Rajasthan, Delhi, and Gujarat, etc., in the mistaken belief that Bihar has not really much to offer, and a visit to it would prove to be a sheer wastage of precious time and money. This is a completely wrong assumption built on facts which do not exist in the first place.
An important centre of power, learning and culture down the ages, Bihar is a great stateand an attractive tourist destination. The state has given many leading religions to the world such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and, to a certain extent, Sikhism.
Besides, the world famous books Arthshashtra and Kamasutra were written here which till date remain the best books in their categories. Many renowned writers and poets such as Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Phanishwar Nath Renu, Baba Nagarjun and Vidyapati are from Bihar. Among the modern writers of world fame, Upamanyu Chatterjee is from Bihar. Bihar is also the place where the biggest cattle fair of the world (Sonepur Fair) is held annually.
Tourist Spots of Bihar
This wonderful state has several attractive tourist hotspots also, with a great religious and historical connection, such as Patna, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Vaishaliand Rajgir which much inspire the spiritually inclined travelers.
The most well-known tourist spot of the state, Patna is not only the capital of Bihar and a leading educational and medical hub in the region; it is also one of the most ancient continuously inhabited cities of the world. Earlier called Pataliputra and Azimabad, Patna is located by the Ganges and is literally dotted with several attractive tourist spots that include--among the others--Patna Museum, Gol Ghar, and Patna Sahib Gurudwara.
Bodh Gaya is one of the four most important Buddhist places in the world (perhaps the most important) and a leading pilgrimage centre. Much famous for the 2500 years old Mahabodhi Temple--a UNESCO World Heritage Site--Bodh Gaya also has the famous Bodhi Tree under which Lord Buddha is believed to have got enlightenment that eventually shaped the destiny of the country, and, to a certain extent, the world. Bodh Gaya also has several beautiful Buddhist temples built by some foreign nations such as Sri Lanka, Japan, and Thailand which much attract the religiously inclined visitors.
Vaishali--yet another prominent tourist spot of Bihar--has the distinction of being one of the earliest republics in the world. It is also the place where the founder of Jainism, Lord Mahavira, was born. The place is much revered by the Buddhists also as Lord Buddha--the founder of Buddhism--had delivered his last sermon here.
Nalanda--yet another renowned tourist place of Bihar with a great past--was a world famous centre of Buddhist learning in the distant past. Presently, it has impressive ruins of the 5th century B.C. Nalanda University which in the distant past had attracted students from all over the world.
Rajgir, another key tourist spot of Bihar, was the ancient capital of the Magadha Empire. One of the famous pilgrimage centres of the state, Rajgir is equally revered by the Buddhists and the Jains as both Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira had given the place much importance during their life time. In fact, Lord Mahavira died near Rajgir, at a place called Pawapuri.
The historical and ancient city of Patna--formerly called Pataliputra, Kusumpur, and Azimabad--is the capital of Bihar and a well-known educational and medical hub. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world, Patna finds mention in the Mauryan Historian Megasthene's 'Indika', and also the famous Chinese traveler Fa-Hien's accounts. Patna was the capital of several great dynasties such as the Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas and even the Guptas.
The city has a rich religious past also. Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism thrived and prospered here. The founder of Buddhism Gautam Buddha passed through Patna during the last years of his life and predicted a great future for the city. However, he also predicted its ruin from flood and fire. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh was born here.
Patna was also once a renowned centre of trade and commerce. The French, Dutch, Danes and Portuguese fought fierce battles to control the trade of the city that dealt with silk, saltpeter and calico, apart from several other goods. Actually, Peter Mundy, a British historian, described Patna as "the greatest mart of the eastern region".
Attractions in Patna, Capital of Bihar
Patna is dotted with several attractions that include, among others, Gol Ghar, Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb, Kumhrar, Mahatama Gandhi Setu, and Patna Museum that beckon the visitors to visit the place time and again.
Gol Ghar is a huge granary made by the British. It offers stunning views of the city and the Ganges flowing by. Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb is a famous place of pilgrimage for the spiritually inclined people, especially the Sikhs. It was here that the tenth guru of the Sikhs Guru Gobind Singh was born. Kumhrar is a historical sight and has impressive ruins (600 BC to 600 AD). It has a small museum also with certain antique objects that showcase the glory of the Mauryan Dynasty.
Mahatama Gandhi Setu is one of the longest river bridges in the world. It connects Patna with North Bihar and offers panoramic views of the Ganges and the surroundings areas. Patna Museum-locally known as Jadu Garh--is a wonderful museum with more than 57000 articles of import. Much famous for its many stone/bronze sculptures, the Patna Museum also has several terracotta figures that throw much light on the historical and cultural background of the state. However, the pride of the museum is the Didarganj Yakshi that much attracts the visitors.