Rajgir - Bihar's Only Hill TownFact Facts About Rajgir
Location: Nalanda District of Bihar, 100 kms. from Patna
Major Attractions: Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Hot Springs, Griddhakuta or Vultures Peak, Ashoka Stupa Peak, Jivaka's Mango Garden, Swarna Bhandar & Jain Temples
Best Time to Visit: October to February. From mid-December to the end of January, temperature here ranges from 5 degree C to 15 degree C. May and June are hot and the mercury goes up to 46 degree C. It's monsoon time towards the end of June.
Clothing for Rajgir: Light cotton in summer and woolen in winter (especially during November to January).
Just 100 kms away from the state capital Patna, Rajgir is a famous tourist as well as pilgrimage spot for travelers visiting the state of Bihar. Bestowed with a rich historic past, Rajgir draws pilgrims, common tourists and adventure seekers from far and near. Rajgir is sacred place to the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Muslims. Lord Mahavir spent 14 rainy seasons in Rajgir and Nalanda between 527-497 BC. He gave his first sermon on Vipula Hill. Each hill of Rajgir is associated with various Tirthankars. Therefore, there are Jain temples on all the hills of Rajagriha.
There is a natural "kund" or pond on Vipula Hill, which is known as Makhdum Kund, named as it is after Muslim saint Makhdum Saheb, who spent 12 years in the jungles of Rajagriha in 13th century AD. Rajagriha was the favourite place of Lord Buddha, and became an important centre of Buddhism during the reign of King Bimbisara(543-491 BC) and Ajatashatru(491-459 AD). Lord Buddha delivered many important sermons here. His favourite places in Rajagriha were Griddhakuta Hill and VenuVana. These two sites are mandatory on the itinerary of the Baudh tourist pilgrims.
Visit Rajgir to closely observe the traces of Buddhism and Jainism, and also the Gondola (Cable Car) ride that is found only here in Bihar. In addition, you will be amazed by seeing the rich culture and tradition of locals and their weaving art.
Tourist Attractions of Rajgir
Rajgir is dotted with many places of tourist interest, most of them have historic and archaeological significances. Popular attractions of Rajgir include Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Hot Springs, Griddhakuta or Vultures Peak, Ashoka Stupa Peak, Jivaka's Mango Garden, Swarna Bhandar, The Cyclopean Wall, Jain Temples, Jarasandha's 'Baithak', Saptaparni Cave, Sonabhandara, Ranbhoomi or Jarasandha's Akhara, Maniyar Math, Bimbisara Jail, Jivaka Ambavana or Jivakarama Vihara, Mardakukshi, Shankhalipi Inscriptions, Venu Vana Kalandakanivapa, New Venu Vana Vihara, Ghora Katora Lake, Tapovana and Yesthivana or Jethiana
Vishwa Shanti Stupa: The massive stupa can be reached by a 2200-ft-longropeway,whichwas presented to the Bihar government by Fuji Guruji. India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had visited Rajgir in 1956, during the 2500th Buddha Nirvana Year, and called Buddhists from all over the world. He climbed the Griddhakuta Hill and requested Japanese saint FujiGuruji to build a stupa in true Buddhist tradition as a mark of respect to the holy seat of learning. The facing peak of Ratnagiri was chosen as the stupa site. Renowned artist Upendra Maharathi designed its architecture. The foundation stone of the 160-ft-tall stupa was laid by president S Radha krishnan in 1965 and it was inaugurated by President VV Giri in 1969.
Hot Springs: The hot springs are a major tourist attraction of Rajgir and believed to have medicinal property. The hot springs were earlier spread all over. Today few hot springs have left, and the most-visited hot spring is in the eastern slope of Vaibhava Hill. The hot water is supposed to come from the 'Saptaparni Caves', situated on top of the hill.
Brahma Kunda is the hottest spring with its water temperature being 45 degree C. There are separate bathing places for men and women have been constructed. Bathing in hot water is good for health, especially for those who are having joint pains. Entry is free. Washing clothes here is not allowed.
Griddhakuta or Vultures Peak: This peak was the favourite retreat of Lord Buddha. Dhaniya, a potter's son, is said to have made a beautiful hut at the foot of the hill for Lord Buddha. Buddha lived in a cave there for several years and preached the famous Saddharmapundarika sutra from the platform built by King Bimbisara on Griddhakuta. There are remains of some brick stupas also. Inside the cave there are several Buddha statues.
Ashoka Stupa Peak: There exist the remains of a brick stupa on a hill that many Buddhists believe was built by King Ashoka as a mark of honour to Griddhakuta.
Jivaka's Mango Garden: Jivaka, the royal physician during the times of Ajatshatru and Bimbisara, used to practise here. It is said once Lord Buddha was also brought here for treatment of a wound.
Swarna Bhandar: These are twin rock-cut caves, supposed to be the doorway to the treasury of King Bimbisara. One of the caves is said to be the guard room while the other is supposed to be the passage to king Bimbisara's treasury. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact.
The Cyclopean Wall: The 40-km-long wall encircles ancient Rajgir. Built with massive pieces of stones, it was constructed before the Mauryan rule.
Jain Temples: There are more than 25 Jain temples around Rajgir. Situated on the hills, they are visited by those who love trekking and also the ardent followers of Jainism.
Jarasandha's 'Baithak': The large rectangular structure looking like a huge platform is situated on the Vaibhava Hill and is popularly known as King Jarasandha's Baithak or the drawing room.
Saptaparni Cave: It is situated on the Vaibhava Hill.The First Buddhist Council was held here six months after the 'Mahaparinirvana' of Buddha. It was attended by 500 monks and headed by Buddha's chief disciple Maha Kashyapa. King Ajatashatru, the ruler of Magadh, had constructed a Sabha Mandap in front of the cave for the assembly.
Sonabhandara: In the southern scarp of Vaibhava Hill, there are two caves. They were originally double storied, on the walls of which are engraved the statues of Jain Tirthankars. In the western cave are found black stone statues of first four Tirthankars and statues of Buddha. Thiswestern cave is locally called Sonabhandara, the literal meaning of which is treasury of gold. It is believed that beyond the inner wall of the cave lay the treasury of gold.
Bimbisara Jail: In the southern side of Maniyar Math on the main road lie the remains of the stone walls of the prison, where Magadhan King Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son, King Ajatashatru.
Ghora Katora Lake: The Ghora Katora (the bowl of horse) Lake is a picturesque site. It is believed to be the place where Jarasandha's stable was situated.
Tapovana: This was the favourite abode of Buddha and is situated some 20 km away from Rajgir on the old Gaya-Rajgir route. The beautiful range of hills running along the road is dotted with many hot springs and is one of the most picturesque sites of the region.
Weavers of Basawanbigaha: A unique textile tradition is being practised by the weavers of Basawanbigaha in Biharshariff. Weavers here produce hand-woven curtains, bed covers, tablecloths etc with colourful Buddhist and Mauryan patterns and themes on them.
How to Reach Rajgir
By Air: The nearest airport is Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport in Patna, about 100 kms. away. The airport is served by domestic flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Ranchi and Mumbai. Some international flights also operate to and from Patna Airport especially during Haj period. After reaching to Patna Airport you can hire a taxi to reach Rajgir.
By Rail: Rajgir Railway Station is connected to Patna through local trains. There's also a direct train between Delhi and Rajgir called Shramjeevi Express, which runs via Patna.
By Road: Good roads connect Rajgir with Patna and other parts of Bihar and rest of the country as well.
Local Transport: Cycle-rickshaws, auto-rickshaws, tangas, buses and taxis are the modes of local transport at Rajgir
Where to Stay at Rajgir
Accommodation is not at all an issue at Rajgir as the town is dotted with many hotels. In addition to hotels, travelers to Rajgir can stay in tourist bungalows or government owned guests houses or hotels at a reasonable price.
Hotels in Rajgir
Some of the popular hotels are: Indo-Hokke Hotel (3-star facilities), Phone: 255231, Fax: 255245, Rajgir Residency (2-star facilities), Phone: 255404, Fax: 255405, Hotel Tathagat Vihar, Phone: 255176, Fax: 255176, Hotel Siddhartha, Phone: 255216, Fax: 255352
Emergency, Contact Numbers for Rajgir
Nalanda District Magistrate: 235203, 235204, Fax: 235205
Nalanda Superintendent of Police: 235207, Fax: 233978
Rajgir Dy Superintendent of Police: 255461
Rajgir Police Station: 255258
Medical Emergencies, Contact Rajgir Hospital: 255102