Places of Interest in Patna
Patna rests on the southern bank of the Ganges. The Mahatma Gandhi Seti, one of the longest bridges in the world at 7.5km, crosses the Ganges, 5 km to the west of the city. It is the capital city of Bihar, an important business centre in eastern India and more significantly, is the gateway to the Budhist and Jain pilgrim centres of Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Vaishali, Rajgir and Pawapuri.
Patna is airlinked with Calcutta, New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Lucknow. It is linked by rail with New Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Calcutta and many other major cities. All-weather motorable roads connect Patna with the rest of Bihar. There are also regular inter-state bus services.
Established in the year 1917 Patna archaeological museum has a large collection of sculptures of the Gandhara and the Mathura style art belonging to the Kushana period. The Gandhar style sculptures known as 'Greeco-Buddhist Art' are made of blue-schist and the collection includes figures of Buddha. Many historic artifacts found during the excavations in different parts of Bihar belong to the pre-historic era early centuries of first millennium are also exhibited in the museum. This excellent museum contains metal and stone sculptures dating back to the Maurya and Gupta periods, terracotta figures and archaeological finds from sites such as Nalanda. It also houses the world's longest fossilised tree, 16 metres Tall and 200 million years old.
After the overwhelming famine of 1770, which killed nearly 10 million people this amazing building was completed in 1786 by Captain John Garstin at the instigation of the then Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings. This beehive shaped structure was built to store grains for the British Army. It has a storage capacity of 140000 tons. 125 meters at the foundation level and standing 29 meters tall with steps winding around the outside to the top, from where one gets a panoramic view of the city and the Ganges. At time of its construction, it was the tallest building in Patna.
The remains of Pataliputra as well as the ancient capital of Ajatasatru, Chandragupta and Ashoka have been uncovered here.
This is one of the holiest Sikh shrines in the state. Built entirely of white marble, it marks the place where Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and last of the Sikh gurus was born in 1660.
Built on the foundations of Sher Shah's fort, Qila House(Aka Jalan museum) contains an impressive private collection of anitques.
Khuda Baksh Oriental Library
Founded in 1900, this library has a renowned collection of very rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Mughal and Rajput paintings.
Mahavir Mandir is one of the leading Hanuman temples in the country. Thousands of devotees throng the temple to worship Hanuman. It is believed that this temple was established by Swami Balanand, an ascetic of Ramanandi sect in around 1730 A.D. Non Hindus are welcome to this modern temple dedicated to the popular god Hanuman. At night this place is lit up in garish pink and neon.
This heavy domed masjid, as built by the Afghan ruler Sher Shah in 1545, is the oldest mosque in Patna. Other mosques include the Pathar ki Masjid and the Riverbank Madrassa.
Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park
Established in 1969 as a Botanical Garden, this park has been developed as Biological Park since 1973. The park is classified as one of the 16 large zoos in the country. The park has more than 300 species of trees, herbs and shrubs. The zoo has more than 70 species of animals. There are more than 800 animals in the zoo. This park also has an Aquarium and a Snake House.
Other places of interest in Patna are: Bihar Institute of Handicrafts and Designs, Birla Mandir, Nawab Shahid-Ka-Maqbara, Pachim Darwaza and Padri-Ki-Haveli.
Places of Interest in Gaya
Gaya is one of the most important pilgrimage places for the Hindus in Bihar. It is believed that a Hindu will reach heaven if his last rites are offered under the celebrated 'Akshayabat' or immortal banyan tree, standing in the yard of Vishnupad temple. Believed to be built on the footsteps of Vishnu, the grand temple was renovated by Ahalyabai, queen of Indore.
The Barabar and Nagarjuni hills are situated 41 kms from Bodhgaya. these historical hills contain seven rock-cut caves, 4 of which are in the Barabar hills. These caves which bear details of the life of Buddha were carved out from solid rocks.
Gaya has a new airport to assist the tourists who are bound to Bodhgaya. Gaya is also an important railway junction. There are bus services from all important towns of Bihar.
Places of Interest in Bodhgaya
Bodhgaya is considered to be the holiest and most important Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. It is here that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree around 2540 years ago. This sacred place is situated on the banks of the river Niranjana, around 13 kms from Gaya town.
Gaya is the nearest airport. Gaya is also is the nearest railway junction. There are bus services from all important towns of Bihar.
Standing adjacent to a descendent of the original bodhi tree under which Buddha meditated on the excesses of life and formulated his philosophy of a balanced approach to it, this temple is a place of pilgrimage to all Buddhists. A sapling of the original Bodhi tree was carried to Srilanka by Sangamitra, daughter of the Emperor Ashoka. That tree flourishes there and in turn a cutting from it was carried back to Bodhgaya when the original tree died.
The Mahabodhi Temple stands on the site of a temple erected by Ashoka in the third century BC. Topped by a 50m pyramidal spire, the ornate structure houses a large gilded image of Buddha. The total height of the temple is 170 ft and on top of the temple are chatras which symbolise the sovereignty of religion. The entire courtyard is studded with a large number of stupas of great variety - votive, decorative, memorative.
Places of interest in Rajgir
This was the capital of the Magadha empire until Ajatasatru, son of King Bimbisara, moved it to pataliputra, now patna, in the 5th century BC. Today it is a minor holiday centre. In winters tourists are drawn by the hot springs and healthy climate. Rajgir is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since Buddha spent 12 years here, and the first Buddhist council after Buddha attained Nirvana was held here. It is also an important place for Jains, as mahavira spent some time in Rajgir and the hills with Digambara shrines.
The nearest airport is Gaya. Road links Rajgir to Gaya and Nalanda (19 Km). Nearest railhead is Gaya.
Site of the Royal physician Jivaka's dispensery, where the Buddha was once brought to have a wound dressed by him.
This was built by Ajatasatru, who was King of Magadha during Buddha's time, some time in the 6th century BC.
The Cyclopean Wall
Built of massive undressed stone, this wall was once 40 km long and encircles ancient Rajgir.The wall is one of the few pre-Mauryan structures ever to be found.
Also known as Vulture's peak, this was the place where the Buddha set in motion his second wheel of law. For three months every year during the rainy season, the Buddha preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples from this site.
Two cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers is believed to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; this 'doorway' is supposed to lead to king Bimbisara treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhalipi or shell script, etched into the wall and so far undeciphered, are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact. The second chamber bears a few traces of seated and standing guards etched into the outer wall.
Places of Interest in Nalanda
Founded in the 5th century BC, Nalanda was one of the world's great universities and an important Buddhist centre. When renowned chinese scholar and traveller Hieun Tsang visited Nalanda between 685BC and 762BC, 10,000 monks and students resided here. Nalanda was frequently visited by Lord mahavira and lord Buddha in the 6th century BC.
Patna, 90 km away is the nearest airport. Nalanda can be reached by rail and road from other major towns of Bihar.
Nalanda University Archaeological Complex
The entire excavation area stretches to around 14 hectares. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes north to south. On either side of this walkway one can find monasteries and temples. A small chapel retains a half broken statue of the Buddha.
The Nalanda Archaeological Museum
This place houses the Nalanda university seal, sculptures and other remains found at the site. It also contains a number of small Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and some undamaged statues of the Buddha.
Nava Nalanda Mahavira
This is a relactively new institute, which is devoted to the study of pali literature and buddhism. A number of foreign students come here to study.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall
One of the newest buildings here, it was built as a peace pagoda by the chinese. Hieun tsang spent 5 years here as student and teacher.
Places of Interest in Pawapuri
ALso known as Apapuri, the sinless town, this is the place where Mahavira, the final thirthankar and founder of Jainism passed away. He was cremated here around 500 BC. It is said that the demand for his ashes was so great that a large amount of soil was removed around the funeral pyre, creating a lotus filled tank. The Jalmandir, a large marble temple was later built in the middle of the tank and is now one of the major pilgrimage spots for jains.
Patna, 90 kilometres away is the nearest airport. The nearest rail heads are Rajgir and Gaya.
Places of Interest in Vaishali
As long ago as the 6th century BC, Vaishali was the capital of a republic. it is credited with being the world's first republic to have elected member of an assembly. Mahavira, the founder of jainism, was born here, and the Buddha preached his last sermon here. It also has a small musuem.
Regular bus services connect Vaishali to Patna (55 km). Nearest railheads are Hajipur (35 km) and Muzaffarpur (36 km). Nearest airport is Patna.
The Lion Pillar at Kolhua, was built by Emperor Ashoka. It is made of a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, surmounted by bell shaped capital, 18.3m. high. A life-size figure of a lion is placed on top of the pillar. The pillar is well-preserved and intact. There is a small tank here known as Ramkund. One can also find a few dilapidated stupas in Vaishali.
Places of Interest in Sasaram
Sasaram is situated on the grand Trunk Road, the famous Indian highway built by Sher Shah in the 16th centuary. The impressive mausoleum of Sher Shash who died in 1545 is the main attraction in Sasaram. Built with red sandstone in the middle of an artificial pond, the mausoleum stands 46m tall and has a dome of 22m span that is 4m wider than the Taj Mahal.