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Bihar: Home to numerous unexplored gems

While stereotypes of states and cities are often attributed to India’s cultural diversity, for the longest time many of us have been unkind with our perception of Bihar.

SNS | New Delhi |

While stereotypes of states and cities are often attributed to India’s cultural diversity, for the longest time many of us have been unkind with our perception of Bihar. 

Granted, most of it comes from a place of ignorance and poor taste owing to the state’s politicized history. However, we have come at the cost of ignoring the beauty and the spectacle it beholds.

Bihar has remained an underrated tourist destination in India. Ironically, Bihar was once the seat of one of the most prosperous ancient Indian kingdoms and today it suffers listlessness when it comes to heritage tourism in India. We agree we may have a good amount of foreign tourists swarming Bihar but said unsaid they have all restricted themselves to fewer destinations in this historically affluent state.

If we see, the history of Bihar is believed to have roots back in the breaking dawn of civilizations in India and then the state prospered as the seat of majestic empires like Magadh. It is also the state that gave two important religions – Buddhism and Jainism to the world.

Bihar in years developed into a rich historic site with diverse culture and traditions. Today, what we witness is the flavorsome extracts of the legacy of different empires. And if we make ourselves a little more adjustable and open to traveling, we may be able to explore an important gem from the Indian treasure chest.

Here is Bihar from the eye of an avid traveler and for the sake of convenience the list has been split into three sections so that you do not leave any stone unturned. Without any further ado, let us begin our journey into the historic land of Bihar:

  1.  Gaya

Among the most famous places in Bihar is Gaya, which is a Hindu pilgrimage hub and a transit point for the Buddhist pilgrimage center of Bodhgaya. It is believed that it was here under the tree that Buddha attained enlightenment. Gaya is a busy city situated on the bank of River Phalgu and it is replete with many temples and historic sites dating back to different eras that stand as the evidence of the successful rule of the Maurya and the Gupta dynasty here. The glory of Gaya was extended so much so that even Hiuen Tsang could not resist mentioning it in his travelogues.

  1. Nalanda
Probably the oldest university in India, Nalanda is an important site to visit in Bihar. A perfect reminisce to the time of flourishing Gupta and Pala period, Nalanda is an acclaimed tourist attraction in Bihar. It is believed that the last and most famous Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira spent 14 monsoon seasons here. Even, Buddha is said to have delivered lectures near the mango grove in Nalanda. The fame of this education center was to an extent that Hieun Tsang, the famous Chinese traveler visited here and stayed for at least two years here. Even, I-tsing another famous Chinese voyager stayed at Nalanda for about 10 years, AND such was the glory of this place. Today most parts of Nalanda lie in ruins but the place is surely worth exploring!
  1. Munger

Dubbed as the seat of Bihar School of Yoga, Munger is yet another place that is popular among tourists in Bihar. The history of Munger dates back to Aryans, who called Munger the ‘Midland’ for their settlement. For yoga buffs, Munger is not an unknown name, thus we can expect a large foreign crowd thronging this place. The present-day Munger is a twin city, which comprises Munger and Jamalpur. Reckoned to be one of the oldest cities of Bihar, Munger was once the capital of Mir Kasim before it fell into the hands of the British. The place has several historic relics that further add to the charm here.

  1. Griddhakuta Peak, Rajgir

Also known as Vulture Peak, Griddhakuta Peak is situated in Rajgir, Bihar. This peak is the most famous place to visit in Rajgir and it sits at an elevation of 400m. It is called a Vulture Peak due to its shape and frequent visit vultures. The place holds an important position in history as it is reckoned to be the spot where Lord Buddha preached the Lotus Sutra to convert Mauryan King Bimbisara. It is also believed that Buddha started the second wheel of law and delivered several sermons here. The peak has a Peace Pagoda said to have been built by Buddhists of Japan. There are a couple of caves here as well that further enhance the thrill of reaching here by a chairlift.

  1. Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary, Begusarai

Kanwar Lake is India’s largest freshwater Oxbow lake. Situated in Begusarai, Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary is reckoned to be the haven for 60 species of migratory birds. Unfortunately, this place is losing its importance due to negligence, in a Wetland Governance in South Asia, held in Delhi in 2014, the condition of this wetland ecosystem was discussed. We hope that some careful steps are taken for this bird sanctuary that has been home to many birds both domestic and migratory.