'The abode of Brahma.' That's what people once called this Eastern state of around 83 million in India. Surrounded by other Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal and a neighbouring country Nepal, it is one of the most populous and constantly inhabited places in the country.
In his book The Wonder That Was India, A L Basham calls Bihar a place full of “intellectual” ferment. He further writes of Bihar as a region which has “not only produced philosophers and ascetics, but also merchant princes and men of action.” The capital of Bihar, Patna, is an old city. It was from this city, then known as Patliputra, that the most powerful Indian king ever, Ashoka the Great, ruled almost all of South Asia during third and fourth centuries BC. Bihar is also the birthplace of one of the most influential religions in the world today – Buddhism. Along with its neighbouring state of West Bengal, Bihar was subjected to the longest and most brutal English occupation during the 18th and 19thcenturies. Despite of that, Bihar was still the richest state in India when the country got independence from Britain in 1947.
Today, services and agriculture are two main sectors of the economy of the state.
There is industry too but currently it plays only a minor role in the overall economy. According to a report in The Times of India, Bihar was the second fastest growing Indian state during 2004-2009; the economic growth rate was more than 11 per cent in this period. The growth figures don't tell the whole story as the state is still found at the bottom the list when it comes to per capita income or the number of people living below the poverty line. Corruption is a major cause of the deprived state of living of most people.
Hindi and Urdu are the two official languages of the state. Other languages and major dialects include Maithali, Magahi and Bhojpuri. Majority of the people in the state adhere to Hinduism and with 16 per cent Muslims, Islam is the second most popular religion. Chhath is the most popular festival in the state and a major tourist attraction. The festival is devoted to the Hindu god Surya (Sun) and Hindus believe that worshipping the god on the occasion of Chhath will bring them prosperity.
The Mahabodhi Temple in the state is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Buddhists believe it to be the place where Gautama Buddhahad received enlightenment. According to an estimate, around six million people come to see this temple and other wonders of the state. It is one of the few places on Earth that housed ancient temples of wisdom, in Bihar's case the temples were – Nalanda University and Vikramasila University. These universities are also called the Harvard and Oxford of olden times. With the plans of the government to revive the learning tradition by re-establishing Nalanda, with over half the population under 25, with increasing prosperity, Bihar is a state with a glorious past and a promising future.
Capital of Bihar Patna – it is one of those few places on this planet that have been continuously inhabited for more than three millennia. Located on the southern bank of river Ganges, the city of around 1.6 million is not only the richest city in the state but it is also the birthplace of the some of the most influential figures in the world history – the last Sikh Guru Gobind Singh and the famous mathematician Aryabhata. Fa Hien, a Chinese traveller provides us with a vivid description of the city in the 5thcentury AD in his travelogues.
The city was earlier called Patliputra. Legend has it that in the times before time a demigod named Putraka created the city for his wife Patli with his magic wand. Thus the city came to be known as Patliputra; putra is a Sanskrit word for 'son.' Therefore the literal meaning of Patliputra would be 'the son of Patali.'
As far as the historical records go, the city has always been an important urban centre. Ashoka the Great made it the capital of his empire during the Golden Age of India. Different dynasties came and perished but Patna remained an important cultural and strategic hub. After 1000 AD, the native kingdoms fell to the invading armies of Muslims. The Muslim kings, beginning with Sher Shah Suri, did a lot to beautify the city. A number of buildings and parks were built under the policy of harmonious coexistence.
A new kind of architecture began to take shape after the arrival, and subsequent conquest, of the British. The English left their mark on the city. It was under the British that prestigious institutes including the Prince of Wales Medical College, Patna Science College and Patna College were established in the city. Not only that, some of the most powerful anti-colonisation movements also originated here. The most well-known of them is perhaps the Quit India moment in the 1940s by Mahatma Gandhi.
Patna was made the capital of Bihar administrative region by the British and it has been the capital since then. The city houses all the important administrative buildings in the states and the state assembly. The metropolitan area of Patnacomprises of 13 towns and over 1400 villages.
Talking of the tourist attractions in the city, most of them have religious importance for one religion or another but there are a few secular sites too. One of them in the Agan Kuan. It's also known as 'a hell for prisoners'. It is a well that was used in during the reign of Ashoka to punish offenders. Another secular site is Patna Cemetery which was built by the English to commemorate the killings of 47 Englishmen. As far as the religious monuments are concerned, the most popular of them perhaps are the Mahabodhi Temple and the Patna Akal Takhat. The Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Takhat in Patna is one of the five most sacred places for Sikhs. Read more about Patna.
Have you decided to visit Bihar and are now searching to jolt down the must-see destinations? If your answer is in the affirmative keep on reading and you will discover eight destinations you cannot miss while on a trip to Bihar.
You may not hear or read about Biharand its tourist destinations very often but that doesn't mean there is nothing to see in the state. If that were the case, Bihar wouldn't be getting more tourists then Goa. Thanks to the efforts of current government to increase security and the infrastructure in Bihar, more and more tourists are visiting Bihar.
There are government organised tours starting with single day to 7 day organised trips. Tourists are able to book various package tours including Buddhists, Jain and Sikh circuits inclusive of accommodation and dinners in government owned hotels. Circuits include; Bodh-Gaya, Rajgir, Muzaffarpur, Lumbini, Kushi Nagar, Sarnath, Akbarpur, Nawada, Pawapuri, Champa Nagar, Lachhuar, Parasnath, Madhuban, Kesaria, Vaishali and Patna.
The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (A Govt. of Bihar Undertaking) is situated at Kautalya Vihar hotel, Beerchand Patel path, Patna-1. Phone: 91-0612-2225411, 2506219
These are the top tourist destinations of Bihar:
Read more on Patna - history of Bihar - Capital of Bihar - Bihari Languages - History of Patna - The legend of Patna - Sonepur mela - Historical facts on Bihar - Bihar History - Ashoka - Meaning of the word Vihara - History of - Ancient Magadha - Bihar at the time of Buddha - Nalanda University - Bodh Gaya - Historical Mahavira of Magadha