Tourist Triangle of Bihar – Rajgir , Nalanda & Bodhgaya
Updated: Aug 1, 2022
VISHWA SHANTI STUPA, RAJGIR
Bihar’ the changed form of ‘Vihar’ meaning ‘Monastery’ is not only the land from where Buddhism and Jainism originated but the premier centre of learning ‘Nalanda’ and ‘Vikramshila’ also. ‘Vaishali’ , one of the Mahajanpada of ancient time also adorns it from where democratic form of Government evolved and spread to entire world. The’ 80 Pillars hall ‘ at Kumrahar in Patliputra ( present Patna city) made of polished stone pillars was an engineering marvel of Mauryan period (322 to 185 BC).
· Famous tri-city - Rajgir, Nalanda & Bodhgaya – have witnessed the development of Indian history as well as religious philosophy and congregation. It is our endeavour to highlight the essence of these heritage places through pictorial journey.
· ‘Rajgir’ also known as ‘Rajgriha’ or ancient name ‘Girivraja’ –the capital town of mighty Magadh Empire during Haryanka dynasty ( 544 to 444 BC) is the place from where we trace out our history. As it is surrounded by 07 hills all-round and being a safe place, it was best suited to be the seat of power. Besides the cyclopean wall encircling the town enhanced its strategic importance. It has been associated with famous king Bimbisar , King Ajatsatru and others.
· Rajgir is deemed to be the only place which is sacred for Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It is confluence of all the three religious streams. Gautam Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching here at ‘Gridhakuta hill’ . Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankar, spent about 14 years of his life at Rajgir , Nalanda and adjoining area. The 1st Buddhist Council was held at Rajgir after Lord Buddha’s Parinirvana.
· It is deemed that during Mahabharat period Rajgir was the capital of king ‘Jarasandh’ .
Places of attraction at Rajgir
· Kund kshetra (or Hot spring area) and Temple complex : Perennial flow of hot spring coming out at the foothill of Vibhara Hill is the main point of attraction. Seven nos. hot springs flowing through spout known as Saptdhara and Brahmkund at downstairs are considered having medicinal effect and can cure skin disease. The kund kshetra is surrounded by temples of various Hindu God and Goddess.
On the slope of hill an old stone structure called Pippala cave exists. We can have panoramic view of Kund kshetra from this point.
· Vishwa Shanti Stupa , Rope way & Gridhkuta hills : Atop Ratnagiri hill magnificent ‘Vishwa Shanti Stupa’ stands which was constructed under legendary Japanese monk Fuji Guruji in 1969. The magnificent structure is the replica of ancient Stupa at Sanchi which was built by Emperor Ashoka of Mauryan dynasty. Lord Buddha in different forms – birth, enlightenment, preaching and mahaparinirwan (death) – have been depicted in four directions. It is very peaceful and serene place and main point of attraction for all visiting Rajgir. A ropeway is also available here to take tourists from foothill to top. Adjoining Gridhkuta hills (or Vulture’s peak) was the adobe of Lord Buddha during his stay at Rajgir and considered very pious by the Buddhists.
· Jivaka Amravan Vihar : A monastery established by Jivaka, the royal physician of king Bimbisar. The place is significant since Jivaka provided medical treatment to Lord Buddha at this place .
· Sonbhandar caves : It is believed that a treasure of gold is hidden inside hill but no one knows clue about opening of entrance.
· Maniyar Math : One of the oldest brick structure , at centre exists a cylindrical shrine dedicated to the worship of the presiding deity of Rajgriha – Mani Nag.
· Jarasandh Ka Akhada : It is believed that a bout happened between Bheem (one of the Pandavas) and Jarasandh, king of Magadha during Mahabharata period.
· Venu Van : A beautiful garden with pond was built by King Bimbisar for residence of Lord Buddha.
· Cyclopean Wall : A thick stone masonry wall encircling the walled city of Rajgriha in ancient time, ruins of which can be seen even today.
· Naulakha Jain Temple : A famous Jain temple built in marvel and red sand stone, having very impressive architecture.
· Veerayatan: Located at foothill of Vaibhagiri, it is a Jain ashram having a rich museum/ art gallery and medical facilities to serve common people.
GLIMPSES OF RAJGIR
MAIN STUPA AT NALANDA
· ‘Nalanda Monastry‘ complex , a World Heritage Site , was constructed during Gupta period (500 to 600 AD). It is deemed to be the oldest seat of learning which flourished for about 700 years (from 500 to 120AD).
· One of the largest burnt brick structure , ruins of which indicate about its glorious past. It is believed that there were about 108 monasteries at Nalanda out of which 11 monasteries and 5 temples have been discovered and excavated. It was the 1st International University of the world. At its peak, it housed about 10,000 monks and 2000 teachers including students from foreign countries such as China, Korea, Tibet, Central Asia etc.
· Excavation at Nalanda has revealed many stupas, monasteries, study rooms, lecture halls, mediation halls, hostels, library, staircase, temples, Lord Buddha statues and many more structures which speak about the its splendor and grandeur .
· Grand architectural features include thick walls made of burnt bricks, proper drainage system with provision of covered drains, massive monasteries and stupas, decorated stone columns with beautiful carving, large staircase, water well inside courtyard of monasteries, proper bathrooms and many more.
· A system of entrance examination / screening existed at Nalanda University. It is believed that students have to give answer to a set of question before admission. Only few students were able to clear it and succeeded in getting admission. Hiuen Tsang (630 to 643 AD) and I-Tsing were famous Chinese travelers who studied at Nalanda University besides others.
· Vision ,conceptualization, construction and operation of a university of such big scale is unique and unparallel which could not be found elsewhere.
· Song sequence (O mere raja……) of a hit Hindi film “Johny Mera Naam” starring legendary Devanand and Hemamalini was shot in the ruins of Nalanda and on the ropeway to Vishwa Shanti Stupa at Rajgir in year 1970.
RUINS OF NALANDA
(III) BODH GAYA
STATUE OF LORD BUDDHA AT BODHGAYA
· A pious place where Lord Buddha attained ‘Nirvana’ or enlightenment under a Pipal tree on the bank of Niranjana river. It is the most sacred pilgrimage center for Buddhists spread across several countries.
· Mahabodhi Temple built under the Gupta period ( in 6th century AD).It is one of the earliest Buddhist temples built entirely with brick. Architecture of this temple is unique and grand due to which it is declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in year 2002. Lord Buddha’s statue inside temple is very attractive and impressive. A number of votive stupas can be seen inside temple complex. Famous Bodhi tree exists on the back of temple which is highly sacred point and worshiped by all visitors.
· The Great Buddha statue : A huge Lord Buddha’s statue (about 80 feet high) flanked by 10 Nos. main disciple including Anand, one of the close disciple , is the new point of attraction for visitors.
· Monasteries and temples constructed by neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Bhutan, Sri Lanka etc make Bodh Gaya a place of international importance.
GLIMPSES OF BODHGAYA
The architectural marvels, religious philosophy and ruins of Rajgir, Nalanda & Bodhgaya transcend time, history and geographical boundaries. We all should make endeavour to protect and preserve these heritages for the sake of humankind.