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Bihar: Land of Buddha

Land of Buddha
Travel Map of Bihar

Bihar, the land of Buddha, derives its name from the word Vihara, meaning monastery. Located in the central and lower Gangetic plateau in the North-eastern Sector of India, Bihar is bound by Nepal on the North, West Bengal on the east, Uttar Pradesh on the west and Jharkhand, bifurcated from Bihar in 2000, on the south.


Statistics

Area 94163 sq.km
Population 103,804,637 (2011 Census)
Languages Hindi and Urdu
Climate Tropical
Summer - Mar. to May. (40 + degree C)
Winter - Dec. to Feb. (5 degree C)
Mansoon - Jun. to Oct.
Best Time to Visit October through April
Capital City Patna
Airports Patna, Gaya
Major Cities Patna, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Motihari, Munger, Gopalganj, Gaya

History

Mahabodhi Temple, BodhGaya

Bihar has a very ancient and glorious history to boast with. The early history of Bihar is mostly lost as the major events and happenings were not documented. The earliest documented history of Bihar is provided by the Jain and Buddhist texts, which shed light to the sixteen Mahajanapadas those flourished during the 6th century BC. Vaishali, Anga, Rajgriha, Pataliputra, Nalanda, and Mithila are just a few of the places those knit the history of ancient India.

Vaishali in northern Bihar, the centre of the Lichchavis kingdom is rated as the most ancient and credited as the world's first republic. By the 5th century BC, the focus of history shifted to Magadha with its capital at Rajgriha and later Pataliputra. Rajgriha witnessed the first Buddhist Council and the conversion of the Mauryan king Bimbisara to Buddhism. During the reign of Ashoka the Great, Magadha and its fabled capital Pataliputra became renowned all over the world. After the death of Ashoka, Magadha lost its glory. During the reign of the Guptas, Magadha regained its importance. The Gupta Empire in 4th century AD is considered as the golden age of Indian history.

Jain Temple, Rajgir

Under the Sultans of Delhi and the Mughals, Bihar was reduced to the status of a province. When Sher Shah defeated Humayun and took over Delhi, Bihar came into limelight again. Sher Shah who hailed from Bihar founded Patna, the present state capital on the site of the ancient capital Pataliputra and gave the country an efficient administration. After Sher Shah, Bihar became part of the Mughul Empire and was peaceful and prosperous under Akbar and other Mughul Emperors.

With the decline of Mughals, Bihar fell into the hands of the Nawabs of Bengal. Under British, Bihar was part of the Bengal Presidency. In 1911, Bihar and Orissa were separated from Bengal Presidency. In 1936 they became separate states. After independence, the state of Bihar was formed with Patna as the capital. On 14th Nov. 2000, the southern Bihar consisting of 18 districts were bifurcated to create a new state named Jharkhand modifying the bounderies of the state of Bihar