Bihar Tourism Information
About 55 km. north of Patna by road across the Ganga, lays this place, the site of the oldest republic of the world, the Lichchvis. Vaishali is the birth place of Lord Mahavira, the most prominent Jam Tirthankar. He was born here in 527 B.C. Lord Buddha preached his last sermon here and Emperor Ashoka erected a Lion Column to commemorate the occasion.
About 30 km. west of Patna lies Maner, famous for its two Muslim shrines. The Sufi Saint, Hazrat Makhdoom Yahiya Maneri is buried here in Badi Dargah. This is the most secred Muslim shrine in Bihar. The other one is Choti Dargah or Daulat Shah’s Tomb which is one of the finest mausoleums of the Eastern India. It is a magnificent domed structure with four twelve-sided minarets in its flanks.
Sonepur: The Harihar Kshetra
On the confluence of Ganga and Gandak, about 65 km. from Patna. Sonepur is famous as a Hindu pilgrimage centre and for the big cattle fair held - here annually in the month of Kartika (end of Oct.). The area is also known Harihara Kshetra, symbolizing the unity of the two prime sects of the Hindu The Vaishnava and the Shaiva. The. unity is consecrated in the Hariharna: Temple where the idols of Hari (Vishn. and Hara (Shiv) are installed here.
About 92 km. south of Patna lay Gaya, a great centre of Hindu Pilgrimage. It is second only to Varana in sanctity. For the funeral rites of the Hindus this is the ultimate place. The centre of pilgrimage is the Vishnupad Temple, believed to have been built over the foot prints of Lord Vishnu.
About 105 km. from Patna and 15 km. south of Ganga is Bodh Gaya. It wis here that Gautam the Buddha attained enlightenment sitting under die Bodhi tree (a peepal tree). The Bodhi tree which is still there is said to be the direct descendant of the original tree. This is one of the four greatest places of Buddhist pilgrimage to which the devout Buddhists from all over the world congregate. The Mahabodhi Temple is the prime place of importance here.
Once a great sea of learning, Nalanda the world’s earliest university came in to prominence in the 5th centurs and remained so until a thousand years ago when the Muslim invaders sacked it. Hiuen Tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim traveler visited this great temple of learning in the 7th century and spent about 12 years both as a student and a teacher. The ruins of Nalanda lie 90 km. south of Patna. The sprawling remains carefully excavated include the Great Stupa with a large stair-way and terraces, huge assembly halls, decorated panels, dormitories, image of Buddha and many other votive stupas. An international Centre for Buddhist Studies was set up in 1951. The New Nalanda Mahavihar has a number of rare Buddhist manuscripts.
About 15 km. south of Nalanda and 102 km. south east of Patna, lies Rajgir known as Rajgriha or Girivraja in the ancient Sanskrit texts. Lord Buddha preached here and so did Lord Mahavira, The first Buddhist Council following the Mahaparinirvana of Buddha, was held here at Satparni Cave. Rajgiri is also noted for its hot springs at the foot of Vaibhara Hill. The mineral water of these springs is highly prized owing to its curative properties. The magnificent Vishwa Shanti Stupa, built by the Japanese Buddha Sangh atop Ratangiri Hill, is linked with an aerial ropeway chair lift. The chair lift carries the visitors from the foot of the hill to the top. Other places of interest include Maniyar-Math, Jarasandh-ka-Akhara, Griddhakuta and ruins of an ancient fort and the massive cyclopian walls.
Eighty km. east of Patna on Patna Ranchi highway and 38 km. from Rajgiri is Pawapuri, a great Jam pilgrimage centre. It was here that Vardhman Mahavir, the great Jain Tirthankar breathed his last here after spending his last days. Here by delivered his last sermon. Pawapuri is also called Apapuri or “the sinless town”. At the death of the Great Master hundreds of thousands of his devotees came to Pawapari, took the ashes and the dust as blessings of the Master. The result was the creation of a beautiful tank. In the centre of this Lotus Tank, a beautiful, white marble shrine was constructed to consecrate the Nirvana of Mahavira. The shrine is also known as Jalmandir. The Samosharan Temple marks the sacred spot where Mahavira had delivered his last sermon.
The 1,366 meter high sacred hill of Parasnath is about 80 km. north east of Hazaribagh and 20 km. from Dumrion Grand Trunk Road. The 23rd Jam Tirthankar, Sri Parasvanath attained nirvan here. It is also known as Samet Shikhar. It is sacred both to the Digambar and the Swetamber followers of the Jain Temple.
About 100 km. from Patna, on the main Grand Trunk Road, lies Sasararn, the seat of the Afghan Ruler Sher Shah Sun who also lies buried here. He died in 1545. This tomb, a five-tiered edifice in the centre of the lake, is the best Muslim structure in Bihar. The Tomb of Sher Shah’s father and son are also there.
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