Passing along the Ganges in the area that is now Bihar, the Buddha prophesied that a great city would arise here. Over 250 years later, in the 3rd Century BC, the mighty Ashoka was ruling from Patliputra, now Patna. The name 'Bihar' is derived from 'Vihara' means monastery. Bihar was a great religious center for Jains, Hindus and most important for Buddhists. Few travelers spend much time here, most just passing through Patna on their way to Calcutta or Kathmandu. However, Bodhgaya is an excellent place to study Buddhism, and Rajgir, Nalanda and Sasaram are interesting places that are not on the tourist trail.
Places to See
Bodhgaya is one of the most sacred place for Buddhists and Hindus. It has a number of Buddhist temples. It was here, that the Lord Buddha sat under the bannyan tree and attained enlightment, and a descendant of that original tree still flourishes there today. Bodhgaya is small and quiet and one day is sufficient to see everything if you don't have much time. The best time to visit Bodhgaya is when the Tibetan pilgrims come down from Dharamsala, during the winter.
Just as nearby Bodhgaya is a mojor center for Bhuddhist pilgrims, Gaya is a centre for Hindu pilgrims. Lord Vishnu is said to have given Gaya the power to absolve sinners. Pilgrims offer pindas (funeral cakes) at the ghats along the river here. Visit Mahabodhi Temple, Niranjana river, Museum and the Thai Temple..
Huen Tsiang, the famous Chinese traveller has left glowing account his great activities seed of learning for 700 years. It attracted students from all over India South-East Asia and China. The ruins of Nalanda lie 60 miles south-east of Patna. There is an array of monasteries and a row of temples and a museum with collection of antiquities recovered from the site.
The Rajgir Hills are known for a large number of Buddhist and Jain monuments.The Buddha preached at Rajgir and so did Mahavira. There are hot springs and pools at Rajgir which add to the charm of the holy place. Among places of interest is the Pipla Cave where Buddhist sages meditated. At the Saptaparni Cave, the first Buddhist Council was held six months after the death of the Buddha.