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bihar

Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the third-largest state by population and twelfth-largest by area. It is the state where Gautam Buddha who founded Buddhism, is said to have attained enlightenment.

Almost 58% of the population in Bihar is below the age of 25, which makes Bihar the state with the highest number of young people in the country.

History

During the time of British rule in India (from 19th century to mid-20th century), the country was divided into Provinces and princely states. The region of today’s Bihar was a part of one such Provinces (the Bengal Province) of British India until 1912, after which “Bihar and Orissa” was separated from Bengal Province and declared a separate province. Again, in March 1912, through The Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and Assam Laws Act, 1912, Bihar was carved out of this province and made a separate province in British India.

Bihar was a larger state with Patna as its official capital, until 2000, when its southern part of carved out and declared a separate state named “Jharkhand”. Patna remains Bihar’s capital to this day while Ranchi, another city in the separated state was made Jharkhand’s capital.

Cities

Bihar state has about 139 statutory towns (officially notified, with their own municipality and boards), 60 smaller census towns and 14 urban cities, all divided into 38 districts.

Some cities and towns in Bihar include: Patna (the capital), Gaya, Darbhanga, Munger, Buxar, Nalanda, Kishanganj, Chapra, Hajipur, Rajgir, Saharsa.

People

The state of Bihar has a population of about 12.85 Crore (as of 2020). The religious people here mostly follow either Hinduism and Islam, which are major religions in the state. Bihar has more than 82% of Hindus and around 17% of the population are Muslims.

Apart from these, a small portion of people follow Christianity, Sikhism or Jainism. People of Bihar are known as “Biharis”, and these people group themselves into three main Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic groups - Bhojpuris, Maithils and Magadhis. These are further divided into other ethnic groups and castes.

Culture

Bihar has a rich cultural heritage and ancient history. Hinduism is predominant here since centuries, and to this day. This is followed by Buddhism, which is also practiced by a large percentage of the population.

Bihar also has an impressive art scene. Drama, theatrics, dance, music, art and literature are prevalent in Bihar and the state is filled with art lovers.

Some of the state’s famous kinds of paintings include: Maithili paintings (more popularly known as Madhubani art), Manjusha painting, and Tikuli Paintings (which is done on a canvas made by melting glass, blowing it into a thin sheet and adding traced drawing patterns on it using natural colours, after which it is sometimes embellished with gold foils or jewels).

Indian classical music is largely loved, appreciated and practised in Bihar, and the state has produced many famous classical musicians. A dance festival in Rajgir is held regularly where Bihari traditional dances are performed and enjoyed.

Most festivals celebrated in Bihar are Hindu festivals such as:

  • Chhath puja (The main festival of Bihari Hindus)
  • Makar Sankranti (A harvest festival, celebrated in January)
  • Buddha Jayanthi
  • Sonepur Cattle fair
  • Pitrapaksha Mela (Fair)
  • Rajgir Mahotsav (The Grand fair/festival of Rajgir)

Language

Bhojpuri, Hindi are the most-widely spoken languages across Bihar. Besides these, many other regional languages and dialects are spoken in the state such as: Maithili, Angika, Magahi, Bajjika, Kudmali, Khortha.

Tourist Places

Birthplace of Buddhism and witness to a lot of historical and prosperous civilizations, Bihar is endowed with a lush green flora and diverse fauna along with a significant number of historical as well as religious places. Still not known by many travelers and tourists, Bihar has several places of tourist attractions that are worth visiting. Discover the culture, beauty, and history of the place and here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Bihar.

  • Gaya: Cuddled on the banks of the Phalgu River, Gaya is the place of Lord Buddha and one of the best places of tourist attractions which charms the visitors with its religious essence. Home to several Hindu temples, Buddhist sites, and historical structures from the Mauryan dynasty, Gaya is a popular place amongst the visitors for its greenery and centuries old edifies, along with the notion that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment here. The main attractions in Gaya, Bihar include Bodhgaya, Bodhi Tree, Barabar Caves, MaglaGauri Shrine, Bhutan Monastery, etc.
  • Nalanda: Attracting an influx of tourists in Bihar, bask in the glory of the oldest university of India, Nalandaattracts Jains and Buddhists as this is the place where Mahavir, Tirthankara of Jains resided for 14 monsoons and Buddha delivered his lectures to the devotees. The main tourist attractions here are Silao, Nalanda Multimedia Museum, SurahpurBaragaon, etc.
  • Vaishali: Famous for being the birthplace of last Jainism TirthankaraLord Mahavir and the place where Lord Buddha gave his last sermon, the city of Vaishali is famous amongst Jains and Buddhists and other tourists as well. The popular Ashokan Pillar also adds to the mystical charm of the place.
  • Munger: A city with a rich and glorious history, Munger is one of the top yoga destinations in India and is swarmed with tourists from across the globe not only to explore the site and relics, but to have a relaxing experience in the yoga city. Some must visit places here are Shri KrishanVatika, SitaKund, Manpatthar, Ucheswarnath, etc.
  • Navlakha Palace of Rajnagar: A stunning historical edifice built by Maharaja Rameshwar Singh, Navlakha Palace is one of the major highlights of the city attracting visitors. Despite facing a massive earthquake in 1934, the marvelous palace did not lose its brilliance and stands tall as being one of the major tourist attractions of the place.
  • Rajgir’s World Peace Pagoda: Also known as Vishwa Shanti Stupa, the pristine white edifice has four pillars representing birth, teachings, enlightenment, and death of Lord Buddha while traveling across the globe spreading non-violence and peace message. Another highlight of the structure is its Japanese style architecture.
  • Madhubani: An ancient city, it is popular for preserving the rich culture and art through the iconic Madhubani paintings and has got immense popularity amongst the art lovers. Apart from the paintings, there are several beautiful old temples which are worth your visit.
  • Vulture Peak: Popularly known as Griddhakuta Peak, the place got its name because of its shape and the height it is located in. Situated in Rajgir, this is the place where Lord Buddha gave sermons which converted MauryanKing Bimbisara to Buddhism. Offering magnificent view of the surroundings, this is a must-visit place for some peaceful time and to feel the mystic aura surrounding the peak.
  • Some other places to visit in Bihar are Thai Monastery, Sher Shah Suri Tomb, Barabar Caves, Kesaria Stupa, and Jalmandir.

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

Some great places in Bihar for a weekend getaway or short vacation are –

  • Bodh Gaya
  • Motihari (pilgrim and heritage spot – peaceful destination, away from city buzz)
  • Griddhakuta Peak
  • Bhagalpur
  • Darbhanga
  • Gaya (historic temples, monuments and caves – a great city to explore)

HISTORICAL PLACES

Bihar has a deep history and rich heritage which is manifested through the incredible monuments and artefacts of historical significance and natural/architectural beauty in the state, such as –

  • Bodhi Tree – An ancient banyan tree under which Gautam Buddha used to meditate.
  • Munger – An ancient city lying on the holy River Ganges, having a glorious history. A must-visit for history enthusiasts.
  • Nalanda University – This is said to be one of the oldest residential universities ever established in the world. It was built in 5th century AD. It is said that Gautam Buddha himself was a teacher here. The building has a beautiful architecture with an ancient but well-maintained look.
  • Golghar – Located in Patna; It is a building built in 1786 by Captain John Garstin (an engineer from the British East India Company) for the purpose of using as a storehouse. Has a pretty round shape to it, through which it got its name, literally translating to “round house”.

Food

Bihari cuisine includes many vegetarian delicacies mostly along with some non-vegetarian dishes. The staple grains are rice, Bengal gram, chickpeas, and different kinds of pulses and flatbreads (roti).

Some regular dishes in Bihari cuisine are:

  • Litti – Powdered gram pulses mixed with spices, lemon juice, and coriander leaves, and baked or fried; and usually served with Chokha – a soupy preparation with mashed dal (pulses).
  • Ghugni – A curry/dish made with soaked black grams (in water), sautéed in mustard oil in a wok, mixed with spices and Chana (chickpea) paste and water to make it gravy-like.
  • Pittha – A steamed rice-flour dumpling filled with a cooked chana dal (Bengal gram) mix that can be sweet (with jaggery, cardamom) or savoury (with chillies and other spices).
  • Sattu ka Paratha – A stuffed flatbread (with vegetables or pulses) made with baby chickpea flour (high in protein).
  • Dhuska – A deep-fried flattened mixture of powdered rice and ghee, and salt.

Travel/Transportation

Trains, Planes and Buses are major modes of inter-city transportation within Bihar. For travel within cities, there are many other modes such as taxi/cabs, buses, and private vehicles like 2-wheelers and cars, or even walking and cycling.

Airports – Bihar has 6 domestic airports connecting to other states and cities in the country, and 2 International airports connecting to cities within the state as well as other parts of the country.

  • Jay Prakash Narayan Airport, Patna
  • Gaya Airport, Gaya
  • Bhagalpur Airport, Bhagalpur
  • Forbesganj Airport, Jogbani
  • Munger Airport, Munger
  • Darbhanga Airport, Darbhanga
  • Raxaul Airport, Raxaul
  • Muzaffarpur Airport, Saharsa

Railway Stations – Bihar has a total of 688 train terminals/railway stations (at least one for each city/town, and more than 1 in some cities) that connect to other cities and towns within the state as well as those in other states in the country. Some of the major train terminals and junctions in the state are:

  • Patna Junction, Patna city
  • Patliputra Junction, Patliputra
  • Bhagalpur Railway Station, Bhagalpur
  • Gaya Junction, Gaya
  • Katihar Junction, Katihar
  • Muzaffarpur Junction, Muzaffarpur
  • Buxar Railway Station, Buxar

Bus Terminals – Bihar has its own line of state-run BSRTC (Bihar State Road Transport Corporation) buses which provide the connection between all the cities and towns within the state and also neighbouring states. These buses can be boarded at BSRTC stops/terminals that are available in every division and town in the state. The prominent town/city bus terminals in the state are located in almost every city and town in Bihar - they can be easily found and are conveniently accessible.

Bihar

Home to several religious places and ancient civilizations, the state of Buddhists and Jains, Bihar is a rich blend of culture, history, art, and architecture that will lure you with its beauty and charm and will sooth your body, soul, and mind.

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