is a state in the north of India. The word Bihar originates from the term “Vihar” or “Vihara”. Vihara has Sanskrit and Pali origins meaning a Buddhist monastery, where one is able to walk alone. During the first century, Buddha preached his sermons and commanded a vast following in the region of Eastern India especially what is now called Bihar. However it was in the second century that his followers built seclusions that emerged all over Magadha (original name of Bihar) for Buddhist monks to practice asceticism and to practice the newly founded order. As the monks had no fixed place of worship and live; they founded the Vihara’s, a place of solace that became popular especially in the monsoon seasons.
These places here mainly made of wood and clay surrounded by a large garden. The early Viharas where temporary homes made of clay thatched with bamboo and dug in the ground in a round shape with roofing. These were located either close to villages or settlements where the monks could beg for alms. However, in the second century, these places became centre of attraction for large number of monks joining the social order especially the Mahayana Buddhist order. These homes became larger in construction where stones were used for permanency often built by rich merchants impressed by the preaching monks. These structures become more like homes and prayer halls surrounded by smaller rooms with entrance containing a statue of Buddha. The rooms were individual cellars for visiting monks with wooden beds and other sleeping arrangements.
As the transformation from temporary dwellings paved way for more established and thought out structures, the name Vihara continued to remain and is still used in India. The word Vihara in Chinese and Thai language also denotes a place of prayer or a shine of Buddha. Interestingly, the city of “Bukhara” in Uzbekistan is also thought to have been derived from the world Vihara. In later centuries, the phenomena led to building of Buddhist universities such as the famous Nalanda in Bihar.