you will ask someone about the northern state of Bihar and its tourist
attractions, most probably he will explain the state more as a pilgrimage
destination rather than as a common tourist destination. Of course,
religious centres of Bihar attract pilgrims from all over the world, but the
state also houses several other attractions in form of historical and
cultural sites. These draw holidayers from far and wide. Apart from these,
the folk art of the state is also renowned all over the country.
Spreading over an area of 94,164 sq. kms, the state has a population of
82,878,796 and 37 districts. Bihar is bordered by the Kingdom of Nepal to
the north and Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the west, West Bengal to the
east and Jharkhand to the south. Geographically, Bihar is a vast stretch of
fertile plains and rivers like Ganga, Kosi, Son, Bagmati, Budhi Gandak,
Falgu flow through the state. Culturally, the state of Bihar is a part of
the Hindi heartland of India and most of the people speak Hindi. Urdu,
Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi and Maithali are other languages spoken by the
people of Bihar.
Take a trip to Bihar this vacation. Although that state doesn't offer
much in the form of adventure, wildlife and many other tourism aspects, but
its monasteries, temples and ancient monuments are quite enough to make your
vacation a memorable experience. Beside, the friendly people of Bihar will
surely impress you with their lively nature and warm hospitality.
Bihar - History
The state of Bihar boasts of a rich history, broadly it can be divided into
Ancient, Medieval and Modern period.
Ancient Period :
During the ancient times, Bihar was
called Magadha. Pataliputra, now Patna, was the centre of the Mauryan
Dynasty. Mauryans dominated the Indian subcontinent from 325 B.C to 185 B.C
and Emperor Ashoka was their prominent ruler. For next one thousand years,
Bihar remained an important centre of power, culture and education. The
Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities, were among the best centres of
education in ancient India but they were destroyed in the wars of medieval
period. From 185 B.C to 80 A.D, Bihar was ruled by Sunga Dynasty, from 80
A.D to 240 A.D by regional king, from 240 A.D to 640 A.D by Gupta Dynasty,
from 600 A.D to 650 A.D by Harsha Vardhana and 750 A.D to 1200 A.D by Pala
Medieval Period :
In the 12th century, Muhammed Bin
Bakhtiyar Khilji a pashtun and a General of Muhammed Ghori captured Bihar.
From here, the decline of the intellectual and spiritual legacy of Bihar
started and many of the Viharas along with Nalanda and Vikramshila
Universities were demolished in this period. Next, Bihar saw a short period
of glory for six years, during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who was a pasthun
from Sasaram. Sher Shah Suri constructed the Grand Trunk Road, the longest
road of the Indian subcontinent, which begins from Sonargaon in Bangladesh
and ends at Peshawar in Pakistan. During 1557-1576, the Mughal emperor,
Akbar, annexed the regions Bihar and Bengal to his empire. Further, with the
decline of Mughal Dynasty, Bihar came under the control of the Nawabs of
Modern Period :
After the famous Battle of Buxar in 1765,
the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights for Bihar, Bengal
and Orissa. From here onwards, Bihar remained a part of the Bengal
Presidency of the British until 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a
separate province. In the year 1935, some portions of Bihar were once again
reorganized into the separate province of Orissa. In 2000, 18 administrative
districts of Bihar state were separated to form the new state of Jharkhand.
Bihar has occupied a mentionable place in the tourist map of India and it
houses a number of tourist destinations which attract both tourists as well
as pilgrims. State capital, Patna itself is a popular tourist destination,
besides, it is also an ideal base for visiting almost all the destinations
of Bihar. Tourist Destinations in Bihar have been broadly divided into three
distinct circuits namely - Tirthankar Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and
Nirvana Circuit. Tirthankar Circuit includes the capital city Patna and
important destinations such as Vaishali, Rajgir, Pawapuri and Deoghar.
Buddhist Circuit consists of Patna
Nirvana Circuit comprises Patna, Rajgir, Kushinagar, Bodhgaya, Muzaffarpur,
Vaishali and Nalanda.
Bihar - Temples
Apart from having an extremely rich cultural background, Bihar also boasts
of a glorious religious heritage. In ancient past, Bihar was the seat of
Buddhist learning, evidences are still present in the form of temples and
monasteries at Gaya and nearby areas. In addition to Buddhist temples, Bihar
also has a number of Hindu and Jain temples.
Some of the noted temples that you should visit during your visit to the
state of Bihar are Bodhi Temple (Gaya), Maha Bodhi Temple (Gaya), Bodhgaya
Temple (Gaya), Parasnath Temple, Bari Patan Devi Temple (Patna), Aranya Devi
Temple (Patna), Chaubishi Jain Mandir (Patna), Jalamandir (Patna),
Ajgaivinath Temple (Deoghar), Chutia Temple (Chota Nagpur), Durga Temple,
Mandar Hill Temple, Kurkihar Temple, Hariharnath Temple, Mundesvari Temple,
Vaishali Temple and Masarah Temple.
Bihar - People & Culture
of Bihar are lively and friendly in nature, they heartily welcome the guests
visiting the state. Bihar is inhabited by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs
and people of the several other religions. Although the religious boundaries
virtually separate the people of Bihar, but their way of living is quite
common. Besides, the cultural links also connect the people of the state
From cultural aspect, Bihar consists of four main regions such as Bhojpur,
Mithila, Magadha and Chotanagpur. Bihar has an age-old tradition of folk
songs and dance forms that are presented during important occasions such as
marriage ceremony, birth ceremony, fairs and festivals etc. During the Holi
festival, people of the state sing lively Holi songs known as 'Phaguna
songs', which are full of fun and enjoyment. Amongst the folk dance
forms, some of the popular forms are Dhobi Nach, Gond Nach, Jhumar Nach,
Manjhi Nach, Jitiya Nach, More Morni Nach, Gond Nach and Natua Nach.
Bihar is also known all over the world for its unique art forms like
Manjusha Kala or Angika Art of Anga region, Madhubani Art of Mithila region
and Patna Kalam of Magadh region. Theatre is another medium, through which
the people of Bihar express their culture. Some noted forms of theatre
include Bahura-Gorin, Bihula-Bisahari, Dom Kach, Raja Salhesh,
Reshma-Chuharmal and Sama Chakeva.
Bihar - Cuisine
Most of the people in Bihar are vegetarian, however, a significant
population of the state are traditional meat eaters too. Rice, dal
(lentils), roti (wheat-bread), vegetables and achar (pickles) are staple
food of Bihar. Apart from these, mutton, chicken and other types birds and
fowls are also liked by the people of Bihar.
Some of the specialties of Bihar include Khichdi (a broth of rice and
lentils seasoned with spices), Chitba, Pitthow, Tilba, Chuda, Litti, Makhana
Bihar is also home to a big Muslim population, so you will find the touch
of 'Islamic culture and food' in the state. Famous Muslim
delicacies are Bihari Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kofta, Shabdeg, Mutton
Biryani, Yakhnee Biryani etc. In addition to these, you can also savour a
wide variety of sweet delicacies in Bihar, such as Kala Jamun, Khaja,
Khurma, Khubi ka Lai, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kesaria Peda, Anarasa, Belgrami,
Chena Murki, Murabba, Tilkut, Pua and Mal Pua.
Bihar - Fairs and Festivals
People of Bihar celebrate several fairs and festival all through the year.
Most of the fairs and festivals of the state have their link with a
particular religion or region. Chhath, also called the Kartik Chhath- is a
major festival in Bihar, celebrated every year around a week after
Deepawali. Chhath is celebrated to worship the Sun God during which the
ritual bathing take place twice, once in the evening and once in the
morning, usually on the banks of rivers or a large water body.
Deepawali is another major festival of Bihar, which is celebrated to
commemorate the return of Lord Rama after the battle with the demon king
Ravana. Durga Puja or Dussehra is celebrated by the Hindus of Bihar. Holi,
Teej and Chitragupta are other important festivals celebrated with pomp and
gaiety by the people of Bihar. Bihula-Bishari Puja of Anga region is another
popular festival. Apart from these, several other festival are also
celebrated in Bihar such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Eid-ul-Fitr,
Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram, Ram Navami, Raksha Bandhan, Maha Shivratari,
Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima etc.
Amongst the fairs, the Sonepur cattle fair is most popular fair of Bihar
and is considered the biggest cattle fair in Asia. The Sonepur fair is one
month long event, held every year approximately one month after Deepawali on
the banks of the Sone river in Sonepur town. Another important fair is
Sharvani Mela held along a 108 km route linking the towns of Sultangang and
An annual affair, Sharvani Mela is organized in the Hindu month of Shravan
that is the lunar month of July - August. During the mela, pilgrims
(kanwarias) wear saffron colour clothes and collect water from a sacred
river bank (Ghat) at Sultanganj. Thereafter, they walk barefooted to Deoghar
to bathe a sacred Shiva Linga.
Bihar - Shopping
is an important part of your trip to Bihar because the state offers a
variety of items which you can take along as souvenir. If you are a
discerning shopper and aware about what to buy and where, then shopping in
Bihar can be a delightful experience for you. In state capital, Patna, there
are a number of Government Emporia and private shops which offer local
handicrafts, handloom products and other daily-usage products. Maurya Lok
Complex, Hathua Market and Patna Market are some of the famous shopping
centres in Patna. Along with the fixed shops, street-side vendors also offer
excellent items at reasonable prices.
Bihar is known all over the world for Madhubani School of painting which is
extremely beautiful handicraft. A school of folk painting, Madhubani School
is carried over by women from generation and generation. Madhubani paintings
usually illustrate various mythological themes, bases on the images of local
deities and Hindu gods and goddesses.
Other items which you can try in Bihar include Stone and bead-jewellery,
Hand-painted wall hangings, Miniatures in paper and leaves, Appliqué
work on fabric, Stone pottery, Bamboo and cane work, Wooden stools, Leather
goods and a special kind of sweet called 'Tilkut'.
The climate of Bihar is somehow tropical in nature, the summers are hot and
humid while the winters are cold. November to January are winter months,
when the weather remains mildly cold and temperature drops to a minimum of
5oC and 10oC. April to June are hot months and the temperature soars to a
maximum of 45oC. Monsoon reaches the state in late June and remains till
Best Time to Visit
October to March is the best time to visit Bihar.
Bihar - Transportation
Bihar has three airports namely - Lok
Nayak Jayaprakash Airport (Patna), Bhagalpur Airport and Gaya Airport. Patna
airport is the main airport of the state, which is connected to Delhi,
Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow and Ranchi. Patna airport has been categorized as a
restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive
international chartered flights. Gaya airport is a small international
airport and it has flights from Colombo and Bangkok.
Most of the towns in Bihar are well-connected
by railway lines with rest of the country. Patna, Bhagalpur, Barauni, Gaya
and Katihar are major railway stations of the state. These stations are
connected by several mail and express trains with Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata,
Chennai and important places of the country.
A vast network of National and State Highways
interlink various places of Bihar and also connect the state with
neighbouring states and rest of the country. The state capital, Patna has
buses for almost all towns of Bihar. If you are coming to Bihar for Buddhist
pilgrimage, the best option for you is to reach Patna first by air or train
and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali.