Bihar state of India is the land where the messengers of peace Gautam Budha and Vardhman Mahavira enlightened and started spreading message of love and peace. There are some cities in Bihar that attract pilgrims from all over the world as these are the places where both these great souls spent most of the time of their lives. I am listing those sacred cities of the state that constantly reminds us of these incarnations of God who taught us lesson of love, kindness, service, sympathy and non-violence.
Vaishali: Starting from Vaishali which is one of the oldest republics in the world. Vaishali is a place of great importance for the ones who follow Baudh religion. Buddha preached his last sermon here only. Vaishali is a sacred place for the followers of Jains religion too as it is the birthplace of Lord Mahavira too. The story of nagarvadhu Amrapali (a famous royal courtesan in republic of Vaishali, contemporary of Buddha who later became an arahant) is still famous in the city and many shops, community centers and commercial houses are named after her.
Patna: Patna is the capital of Bihar and the most populated city in the state, also it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. During ancient times Patna was known as Patliputra and was the capital of the Magadha Empire. City has seen many dynasties namely Haryanka, Nanda, Mayuryan, Sunga, Gupta, Pala and Suri. There are many temples in the city of religious importance for the Hindus while followers of Sikh religion too consider it a sacred place as the last Sikh Guru ‘Guru Govind Singh Ji’, was born here.
Rajgir: Rajgir was the capital of Magadha Empire during ancient times and was known as Rajgraha. Lord Buddha spent significant time of his life in Rajgir meditating and preaching the principles of Baudha religion. Lord Mahavira too spent many years of his life in Rajgir so this city is an attraction for followers of Jain religion too. Laxman Jhoola, Vishwa Shanti stupa and other Buddhist monasteries and temples are major attraction of this place.
Pawapuri: One who visits Rajgir thinks of exploring Pawapuri too as it is close city just 40 kms away from Rajgir and a place of utmost importance for followers of Jain religion. Lord Mahavira, the last tirthankar and founder of Jainism, took his last breathe at this place only. The sight of beautiful Jalmandir is mesmerizing and captivating. It is a temple surrounded by a pond full of lotus flowers. There are many other beautiful temples in the city too. The city is famous for very good quality khaja(an Indian sweet) too.
Bodhgaya: Gaya is regarded as a holy city by all Indians as Buddha attained enlightenment in Gaya and so the city is called Bodhgaya. The tree under which Buddha found shelter is famously known as the Bodhi tree. Apart from Bodhi tree and monasteries, city is visited for other attractions too. About 8 km in North-West direction from Gaya the 873 feet high Pretshila Hills is situated which literally means the Hill of ghosts and a place of Yam(the Hindu god of death). Pretshila hill is considered a sacred place of pilgrimage. On the top of the hill a small temple is situated which is dedicated to Yam (The God of death). There are a number of monasteries situated in BodhGaya among which some has been established by Buddhists of China, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and other countries where Baudh religion is a major religion of country.
Nalanda: Nalanda has been a prime center of higher learning in ancient times. The city is 90 kms in south east from state capital Patna and it came into prominence around the 5th century BC. By the support and patronage from the Hindu Gupta dynasty and the later Buddhist emperors the city flourished and it was famous for a grand university(Nalanda University) with over ten thousand scholars and an extensive library. As this university was demolished in year 1193 by an army of Bakhtiyar Khilji now tourists visit this place to see the ruins of old university.
Kesaria: Kesaria is town in the district of East Champaran in Bihar. This place is visited by pilgrims for a sight of the famous Buddhist Stupa which is known to be either the tallest or one of the tallest and the largest Buddha stupa in world. This stupa was discovered in 1998 during an excavation by the ‘Archaeological Survey of India’. The stupa dates back from AD 200 to AD 750 and believed to be associated to 4th century ruler Raja Chakravarti. Kesaria stupa is believed to be built upon the ruins of a much older and larger Stupa which was 150 feet tall. The current height of the stupa is around 120 feet.