Over 6 million tourists visit Bihar every year to experience its ancient monuments, natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. The state of Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited sites of the world with a history that can be traced back over three thousand years. The state used to be home to some of the most prominent universities of ancient times like the Nalanda University. Another aspect that stands out about Bihar is that prominent sacred places of many religious like Hinduism, Islam, Jainism and Buddhism peacefully coexist in Bihar. Here is a glimpse of what the vibrant state has to offer to a tourist.
Being the place where Gautam Buddha is said to have attained his enlightenment, Bihar has transformed into a religious hub that is thronged by Buddhists from across the world. The Mahabodhi Temple, which translates into the ‘Temple of Awakening’, marks the location where Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and went on to become Lord Buddha. When you are there, you can also spend time under the cool shade of the Bodhi Tree which is said to be a direct descendant of the Bodhi Tree under which he got enlightenment.
The Mahabodhi Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and stands tall as a fine example of ancient Indian architecture and brickwork. Situated about 100 kms from the state capital, the Mahabodhi Temple is a must visit when you are in Bihar.
Located in the middle of a lake and surrounded by lotuses is the Jalmandir or the 'temple in the midst of water'. The temple is of great importance to Jains since it is the site where Lord Mahavira, the last Jain teacher attained Nirvana. The temple is exquisitely carved out of marble and is an oasis of calmness and peace in Bihar, accessible by a bridge from across the lake.
Established in the 5th century AD, Nalanda University is considered to be the first residential university of the world. The remains of this 1500 year old university bear testimony to the rich educational heritage of India.
Spread over 14 hectares, numerous temples, hallways and passages can be seen in the excavated portions of the Nalanda University. Tourists can admire the centuries old monument as well as get a glimpse of all the history associated with the university at the museum maintained on its premises.
Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary
Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary
Perhaps one of the least known facts about Bihar is that one can find the endangered Gangetic dolphins in the state. The Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is a 50 km stretch with over a few hundred dolphins and rich diversity. All you need to do is to take a boat ride in this stretch to catch a glimpse of the dolphins splashing about in the cool waters. The probability of sighting the dolphins is highest from October to June.
Rajgir Hot Springs
Just as with the Gangetic dolphins, not many know that Bihar has hot springs – another natural wonder that is extremely rare to find in India. The town of Rajgir, which used to be the capital of the Magadh Empire, houses the natural hot springs. You can make a quick stop here to take a dip in the pool whose water is believed to have healing powers.
Bihar is a state that is blessed with bountiful natural resources and a rich historical past. The relics from the past continue to stand tall in the state reflecting the advancement in architectural sciences in India over centuries ago. While planning your itinerary, be sure to cover the glorious historical monuments so that you get to experience the architectural marvels from eras gone by. The best time to visit the state is between October and March when the weather is pleasant.
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