Bihar is a state in Eastern India, and it is the third-largest state by population and twelfth-largest by territory. Uttar Pradesh surrounds it to the West, Nepal to the North, West Bengal to the East and Jharkhand to the South.
Bihar is dominated by a vast stretch of fertile plains which is unequally divided by the river Ganges and the central part of Bihar has small hills like the Rajgir Hills.
A short distance to the north of Bihar you will find the foothills of the Himalayas, which majorly affect the landforms, climate and hydrology of the state.
The Ganges flows West-East along with its tributaries and usually flood parts of the Bihar plain.
The main northern tributaries are Gandak and Koshi, which originate in Nepal Himalayas and the Bagmati which originate in the Kathmandu Valley.
Other tributaries are Son, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Phalgu.
History of Bihar:
During the late Vedic period (c. 1100-500 BCE), the Videha kingdom or now Bihar became one of the major political and cultural centres of South Asia along with Kuru and Pañcāla.
The Videha Kingdom later became incorporated into the Vajji confederacy.
The Haryanka dynasty founded in 684 BC ruled the Magadha from the city Rajgriha ( modern Rajgir). The Haryanka dynasty was followed by Shishunaga dynasty. Later the Nanda dynasty ruled a vast stretch from Bengal to Punjab.
The Nanda dynasty was then replaced by the Maurya Empire, India’s first empire. The Maurya Empire and the religion of Buddhism arose in the region that now makes up modern Bihar.
After the fall of the Pala empire, the Chero dynasty ruled some parts of Bihar from the 12th century until Mughal rule in the 16th century.
Popular Languages of Bihar:
Hindu and Urdu are the official languages of the state whilst most of the population speaks one the Bihari languages- Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili or Angika.
Capital of Bihar:
Patna is the capital of Bihar.
Chief Minister of Bihar:
Nitish Kumar is the chief minister of Bihar.
Governor of Bihar:
Phagu Chauhan is the governor of Bihar.
High court of Bihar:
The high court of Bihar is located in Patna.
The culture and heritage of the state can be observed from a large number of monuments spread across it. About 24 million people from around the world visit the state every year.
In the earlier days, tourism in the state was purely based on educational tourism, as Bihar is home to some of the most prominent universities in the world that is the Nalanda and Vikramashila University.
Apart from this Bihar also has a rich culture and ethnic background. There are many caves and artefacts that are preserved all over the states that depict the way of the earlier civilizations that used to rule and preside over Bihar.
Tourism has been given a great priority over the past years by the state government in order to make the state visible to a lot more people and experience what it truly is.
Best Time To Visit Bihar:
The best time to visit this state is after the monsoon and before summer during the months of October to March.
30 Must-Visit Places in Bihar:
The most famous place for Hindu pilgrimage seekers, Gaya is a hub and a transit point for Buddhist pilgrimage centre of Bodhgaya.
It is believed that the Buddha attained enlightenment under a tree that is present in Gaya.
A perfect reminiscence to the time of flourishing Gupta and Pala period and probably the oldest universities in India, Nalanda is an important site to visit in Bihar.
It is believed that the last and most famous Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira spent 14 monsoon seasons here.
Known as the seat of Bihar school of Yoga, the history of Munger dates back to the Aryans, who called Munger the ‘Midland’ for their settlement.
Many yoga fanatics from all over the world visit this place every year.
An important archaeological site and also the capital city of Licchavi rulers, Vaishali earned its spot as a birthplace of Jain Tirthankar Lord Mahavira. The last sermon of Buddha in 483 BCE was also conducted here.
Better known as Patliputra and situated on the southern banks of the river Ganga, Patna is the largest city in Bihar.
It is also a place for Sikh devotees as it is believed to be the place of birth of the last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
Although in spite of rich history, Patna today is a modern city.
Mostly lying in ruins, this palace is situated in Rajnagar near Madhubani in Bihar.
This place is believed to be built by Maharaja Rameshwar Singh and has also suffered extensive destruction due to the earthquake in 1934.
7.Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall
As the name suggests, this palace or memorial was built as a memory for the famous Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang.
This place represents the artistic and academic grandeur of Nalanda University.
One of the most important pilgrimage sites, Jalmandir is situated in Pawapuri in Bihar.
It has been highly revered by Jain devotees as it is believed that this is the place where Lord Mahavira breathed his last in the 500 CE. A white marble temple has been created in his memory.
This range is located in Rajgir, Bihar and is also known as the Vulture Peak due to its shape and frequent visit of vultures.
It also plays an important role in history as it is believed that this is the place where Lord Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra in order to convert Mauryan King Bimbisara.
10.Vishwa Shanti Stupa
Known as the World Peace Pagoda, this place stands in the historic city of Rajgir. It is one of the 7 pagodas built in India and is a must-visit place in Bihar.
It was built in 1969 to spread the message of peace and non-violence.
11.Sher Shah Suri Tomb
Built-in the memory of the great Sher Shah Suri in the 1545 AD, this tomb portrays the best of Indo-Islamic architecture in India.
This sandstone tomb erected in the middle of an artificial lake is worth the visit.
This was built by the King Dharampala and is one of the two important Buddhist learning centres in Bihar.
It is believed that displeased with the depleting quality of Nalanda, the king decided to establish this centre for better learning. It is under development now.
Regarded as the birthplace of Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, this temple was built around 100 years ago in the city of Sitamarhi, Bihar.
There is also a pond known as the Janki Kund which is a place of interest for devotees and tourists.
14.Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary
Kanwar lake is the largest oxbow lake in India. Situated in Begusarai, this sanctuary holds about 60 different species of birds.
But unfortunately, this place is losing its importance due to negligence.
Known as the largest and the tallest stupa in India, Kesaria Stupa attracts a lot of visitors domestically as well as internationally.
The stupa is believed to have been built between 200 and 750 AD under the rule of Raja Chakravarti.
Dating all the way back to the Mauryan Empire, these caves are claimed to the oldest rock-cut caves in India and is a favourite tourist spot in Bihar.
Situated on twin hills – Barabar and Nagarjuni, the cave is well-polished and has articulate designs and inscriptions over its walls and ceilings.
Established in the year 1957 with the help of Thailand’s government and the Indian Buddhist Monks, this monastery is one of the gems from the marvellous state of Bihar.
This temple represents the culture and traditions of Thailand as it is made completely in Thai Architecture.
Evidence of the glorious past of Bihar, Buxar fort was constructed in 1045 AD by King Rudra Deo.
This fort is known for its architectural carvings and drawing on its wall.
19.Great Buddha Statue
Situated in the holy city of Bodhgaya and instated by XIV Dalai Lama in 1989, this statue of Lord Buddha is the tallest in India.
It shows Lord Buddha meditating on a giant lotus, constructed using specially carved sandstone and red granite.
Located next to the main temple in Bodhgaya, this lake is associated with mythological tale stating that Lord Buddha was protected from the storm by the Snake King Muchalinda. It is a popular tourist destination in Bodhgaya, Bihar.
One of the most popular places to be in Patna, Bihar is definitely the Gandhi ghat.
It is situated in the banks of the river Ganges and is popular as ashes of Mahatma Gandhi was immersed here.
The magnanimous Ganga aarti is the highlight of all. May tourists and devotees come to experience it.
Originally built as a storehouse and in the shape of a beehive, it was built-in 1786 and provides a panoramic view of the city of Patna along with river Ganga.
This museum is a recent addition to the list of attractions as its sole objectives were to create more space to house and exhibit artefacts since the century-old Patna Museum is running out of space.
It provides insights into the history of Bihar and inculcates a sense of respect and pride in the hearts of the current generation.
This museum in Patna is among the eleven such public museums across India that displays a visual biography of Gandhi’s life with the help of pictures of important milestones since childhood to death, documents, quotes, models and other memorabilia.
This is a 3-storied mausoleum located just 30 km in the outskirts of Patna. It is an architectural marvel and is a must-visit for explorers.
26.Japanese Peace Pagoda
This stupa was established by the Nipponzan Myohoji sect of Japan in Vaishali and is also known as the Vishwa Shanti Stupa.
This stupa comprises a part of Buddha’s relics found in Vaishali.
Known as the second-largest religious shrine in the whole of North-India, this temple in Patna is one of the leading temples which worship Lord Hanuman.
Thousands of devotees from different parts of the country gather here daily to offer prayer and seek the blessings of God.
A small town situated about 28km northwest from the town of Bettiah comes a place that is famous for its beautifully architectured Ashokan Pillar.
Lauriya gets its name from a pillar (Laur) of Mauryan emperor Ashoka, which is situated here.
Related to numerous myths and legends, Agam Kuan in Bihar is associated with the Mauryan King Ashoka.
The well is mentioned as the ¥hell on earth’ in many accounts, which was probably once a part of Ashoka’s infamous Hell chambers used for torture before embracing Buddhism.
Visitors and tourists now throw-in flowers and coins to get their well-wishes and prayers heard.
This temple in Patna is a new addition to the list and is yet to be fully opened to the devotees and visitors. But once upon completion, it would be the largest complex in the whole of the Bihar-Jharkhand area.
Famous National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries In Bihar:
1.Valmiki National Park
Located in the India-Nepal border in the West Champaran district of Bihar, it is the only national park in Bihar.
Total forest area comprises about 900 square kilometres (350 sq mi).
Bihar Government is turning 800 hectares of forest in VTR into Grassland making it India’s biggest grassland.
The Royal Bengal Tiger, Indian Rhinoceros, Black Bear, Monitor Lizard, Gharial, Three-toed quail, peasant flycatcher are some of the species of animals present in this park.
2.Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the southwest of Munger district in Bihar, the forests cover an area or 681.99 km² on the hills and undulating tract of Kharagpur Hills.
In the valley portions and at the foothills are several hot springs of which the finest are at Bhimbandh, Sita Kund and Rishi Kund.
Few animals like the crocodile, cobras, pythons, kraits, peafowl, quail, drongos, tigers, panthers are some species present here.
3.Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the Kaimur district of Bihar, near the town of Bhabhua, it is the largest sanctuary in the state.
Government has also planned to develop it into a tiger reserve.
In the valley portions, there are several waterfalls of which the finest Karkat waterfall and Telhar. There are also several lakes, including Anupam Lake.
Species of the Royal Bengal Tiger, black bear, boars, Imperial eagle, sloth bears and many species of ducks are some of the animals present here.
4.Gautam Buddha Wildlife Sanctuary
Located in the Gaya district of Bihar and Koderma district of Jharkhand, this sanctuary is shared by two states. Prior to becoming a wildlife refuge, the area was a private hunting reserve.
Species of tigers, bears, sloths, leopards are seen in this wildlife sanctuary.
5.Nagi Dam and Nakti Dam Bird Sanctuary
Located in the town of Jhagha in the Jamui district of Bihar, these bird sanctuaries are in close proximity so they can be taken as one.
These notified sanctuaries are surrounded by rocky hillocks, formed by the damming of streams.
Both these water bodies are quite deep, with a clear water-surface.
Many species of dryland birds like the Indian Courser, Indian Sandgrouse, Yellow-Wattled Lawping are some of the animals seen here.
6.Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary
This bird sanctuary is located in the Begusarai district of Bihar. It is home to Asia’s largest freshwater oxbow lake- the Kanwar Taal or Kabar Taal lake.
There are around 60 migratory birds that come all the way from Central Asia in winter and around 106 species of birds live here.
7.Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary
Located in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar and as the name suggests, this sanctuary is a safe haven for the infamous Gangetic River Dolphins.
These are an endangered species and only a few hundred remain out of which half are found here.
The Gangetic Dolphin is also declared as the national aquatic animal of India.
Other species of Otters, gharials freshwater turtles and 135 species of waterfowl are also found here.
8.Barela Jheel Salim Ali-Jubba Sahni Bird Sanctuary
This sanctuary is located in the Braila village under Patepur block in Bihar.
This lake is home to around 106 variety of local birds including Tea cormorants, white-breasted Kingfisher, eagle, pelicans, coots, Green parrot, gull and lalsar are to name a few.
It is also a lifeline to several biological creatures like Pragmitis, Tifa, Hydrilla, Utroculeria and other micro-organisms.
9.Kusheshwar Asthan Bird Sanctuary
This bird sanctuary is the perfect spot for wildlife enthusiasts in the Darbhanga district of Bihar.
One can find rare species of birds like Nakta, Lalshar, Mail, Dighouch, Gagan, Gairi, Chaha, Karan are present here.
Many migratory birds from all Asia come to this sanctuary during winters that is why it is also called the Winter capital of Birds.
Bihar Is Famous For:
Just like Rishikesh, Munger also has a fan following from International tourists. This place is famous all over Inda for its Yoga centres and education.
This is an eminent centre of the Bihar School of Yoga and there are many accommodations and centres that provide training in yoga that would definitely change your life into a whole new perspective.
The best way to explore a state is to experience is local food.
Bihar is a land of strong people who are often seen working on fields or on jobs of masonry or carpentry so the cuisine is also fixed in a way to offer immense strength and energy.
Some of the best items from the platter of Bihar can be Litti Chokha, Dal Pitha, Kheer Makhana, Thekhua/Khajuria, Dal puri, Parwal Ki Mithai, Chana Ghugni and Khaja.
3.Madhubani Arts and Paintings
Also known as Mithila Painting, Madhubani is an important culture of Bihar.
This age-old art is done by the use of fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens, and matchsticks, using natural dyes and pigments, and is characterized by eye-catching geometrical patterns.
These paintings are mostly made by women thus it holds its importance. If you visit Bihar, make sure to buy one of these paintings.
4.Handlooms and Handicrafts
Bihar is indeed a land of Art as it has a vast industry of handloom and handicrafts.
Producing cotton materials, fine silk, sand gamchas, fine tussar, mulberry and Matka silk, Bihar has some rich collection that is absolutely worth buying.
Bhagalpur city in Bihar is also known as the Silk City of India.
5.Chhau dance performance
So far we have spoken about the cuisines, handlooms, architecture of Bihar but the journey is incomplete if you don’t see the Chhau dance performance.
Chhau is a genre of dance that can be seen Odisha, West Bengal and Jharkhand along with Bihar.
Performed mainly during festivals and the use of masks is done, Chhau demands a lot of physical strength as the dance moves are difficult and require a lot of flipping and jumping.
Famous Fairs and Festivals of Bihar:
This the most famous festival of the state and probably when one hears Chatth Puja, Bihar comes to mind.
This is an actually an ancient Hindu festival which is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya, and take place 6 days after Diwali.
It is an expression of thanksgiving and seeking blessings from the Almighty for sustaining life on Earth. There are thousands of devotees praying along the river in true sense.
During the winter the birds migrate from the Himalayas to the plains then the festival of Sama Chakeva takes place. This festival is specially celebrated in the district of Mithila.
The girls make an idol of the birds and decorate them in their own traditional way. After this, the festivities take place with full splendour, and ends by a Vidaai of the Sama, with a wish that these birds return to the land the next year.
This festival is celebrated during the month of Shravan or the rainy season from July-August. It is an important month-long This festival draws thousands of people from all around the country every year.
The ritual is held along a 108 km long route linking towns of Deogarh and Sultanganj.
4.Sonepur Cattle Fair
This cattle fair is the largest cattle fair held in Asia which takes place in the Sonepur district of Bihar.
It is held on Kartik Purnima, the first full moon after the festival of Diwali.
In this fair, domestic cattle like an elephant, camel, sheep and birds are brought in from around the country and sold here.
5.Makar Sankranti Mela
Held every year in the Rajgir district of Bihar and in the month of January, the devotees make flower offerings to the deities in the temple and take a dip in the holy water.
Another site associated with this festival is the Mandar Hills in the Banka district.
The famous panchjanya – the shankh (conch shell) used in the Mahabharat war is believed to have been found here on the hills. This makes it a rather famous festival of the state.
Held in the month of September in the Gaya district of Bihar, people from all over the country come to worship their ancestors as a part of Shraddha ritual.
This is a mandatory Hindu ritual which is believed to bring salvation to the departed soul.
This tradition traces back to Buddha, who is believed to have performed the first pindan here.
Held sacred by both Jains and Buddhas, the ancient capital of Rajgir holds a colourful festival of dance and music.
A complete serene atmosphere is created here with the instrumental music, devotional songs, opera, folk dance, ballet and other dance and art forms.
It is held in the month of October and people from all over the world visit.
Held mainly in the Bhagalpur district of Bihar, This festival is rather famous in the Eastern Bihar and has various myths associated with it.
This festival is held during the month of August each year. The festival celebrates the brilliant Manjusha Art, which is as magnificent as other art forms found in Bihar.
Celebrated in the month of May during the Baisakh Purnima (full moon day), It is believed that Buddha was born, enlightened and passed away on the same full moon day.
Thus, the festival Buddha Jayanti came to be celebrated. This festival is specially celebrated in the town of Bodhgaya and Rajgir.
The Mahabodhi temple marks the days through prayers and celebrations.
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