When it comes to tour options in India, the beauty and cultural vastness of the state of Bihar is often underestimated. One of the reasons may be that the state is deemed as relatively undeveloped and “off the beat “. Nonetheless, the Bihar government has been taking significant steps into attracting visitors to the state. With a major focus on the historical and religious sites, the tourism department is all set to ensure the best travel experience to visitors.
Listed below are some of the best tourist attractions you must visit in Bihar:
- Nalanda University Ruins
These are the remains of Buddhist temples and tombs at the famous Nalanda University. This important attraction dates back to the 5th century. Hence, it is revered as one of the world’s oldest universities. Once a significant center for Buddhist learning, over 10,000 monks and students were estimated to study here. The center was believed to have survived until the 12th century. Later on, it was ransacked by Muslim invaders. The library was also set on fire. Over 9 million manuscripts were destroyed. Sariputra, the pyramid-shaped Stupa is the highlight of ruins. It is flanked by several steps and sculptures. Interestingly, as per the latest Bihar news, in 2016, the ruins were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall
This famous memorial hall was constructed in memory of Hieun Tsang, the famous Chinese scholar, and traveler. Rich in architecture, this is the site where Hieun Tsang spent over 12 years on his visit to India. He learned yoga under the guidance of Acharya Shil Bhadra, here. The hall comprises of various collections depicting traveler’s description of medieval India and Nalanda.
- Stupa at Rajgir
Lord Buddha has spent many years at Rajgir after attaining enlightened. It is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations for Jains, Buddhists, Hindus, and Rajgir. You can spend a few days exploring the beauty of the area. It is home to several historical sites, the ancient temple remains, shrines, and caves. Don’t forget to take the aerial ropeway/tramway uphill to the famous Vishwa Shanti Stupa. Afterwards, you may take a relaxing stroll back down the hill and visit the Vulture’s Peak. This is the site where Lord Buddha used to preach to his disciples. This site is renowned for its impressive view. Remnants of the ancient stone Cyclopean wall, built by Mauryan rulers are also a famous site.
Ashoka Pillar in Vaishali is a very popular tourist spot in Bihar. An important Jain and Buddhist pilgrim destination, Lord Buddha visited the city frequently. He preached his last sermon at Kolhua, the nearby place. During the 3rd Century BC, Emperor Ashoka constructed one of his famous lion pillars there to commemorate the occasion. It is believed that the 24th and last Jain teacher, Lord Mahavira, was born in Vaishali. Vishwa Shanti Stupa is another popular attraction here.
Don’t forget to stop at Sasaram when traveling from Bodhgaya to Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh. This mausoleum of Emperor Sher Shah Suri is worth watching. During the ancient times, Bihar served as the center of power before Mughal rulers shifted to Delhi. Sufi saints visited this region. Their humanistic preaches and mindsets attracted pilgrims. This is the reason Bihar has several sacred tombs of ancient age Muslim rulers. Sasaram mausoleum is the most beautifully and elaborately constructed. Settled in the middle of a huge artificial lake, the mausoleum is situated halfway between Bodhgaya and Varanasi.
- Jalmandir Temple
Located in the middle of a lake full of beautiful lotuses, Jalmandir Temple was constructed by King Nandivardhan, the elder brother of Lord Mahavira. Beautifully constructed in the shape of a Vimana (divine vehicle), this is the place where Lord Mahavira attained Samadhi. He was cremated here. A six hundred feet long bridge constructed of stone serves as a connection between the temple and banks of the pond.