Bihar’s antiquity is evident from its name, which is derived from ancient word “VIHARA” – monastery. It is indeed a land of monasteries. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh shrines abound in this ancient land where India’s first major empires rose and fell; where the ruins of the worlds’ earliest university slumbers in the void of time. The passage of Ganga, flowing wide and deep enrich the plains of Bihar before distributing in Bengal’s deltoid zone.
Among all Indian states, Bihar is the one most intimately linked to Buddha’s life, resulting in a trail of pilgrimages which have come to be known as the Buddhist circuit. The Buddhist trail begins at the capital city, Patna, where a noteworthy museum contains a collection of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures as well as a terracotta urn said to contain the ashes of Lord Buddha.
Bihar is a land blessed with beauty both metaphysical and physical. With its rich heritage of antiques, artifacts, historical facts and figures going into its favour, Bihar is a blend of beautiful and bountiful nature, natural resources, the vital sparkling pure water, important archaeological finds and rich culture. It has been attracting domestic and foreign tourists from the ancient times. The travelogues of the Chinese travelers Huen Tsang and Fa-Hien describe historical splendor of Bihar which offers much to tourists irrespective of their age and class.
The state is unique as it offers such a rich mix of history for not just one but many religions. Keeping this in mind, Bihar Tourism has identified religious circuits for Boudh, Jain, Hindu, Sikh and Islam religions. The objective of these circuits is to bring tourists from these religions closer to their ancestors and provide profound expression in development of tourist sites and spots.
Prime destinations of Bihar tourism include:
Bodhgaya – Buddha’s Enlightenment sites,
Gaya – Final Salvation point,
Nalanda – Ruins of World’s first university for higher education,
Pawapuri – Lord Mahavir’s Nirvana site,
Rajgir – peek into the Kingdom of Magadh,
Vaishali – Site for last sermon delivered by Lord Buddha; birth place of 24th Tirthankar of Jains,
Vikramsila – Center of Tantric Buddhism and famous for its university,
Kesariya – Venue where the Buddha delivered his famous Kalama Sutta to the Kalama people
Development of Aqua tourism –With a vast expanse of natural water originating in form of rivers coming down from Nepal and the sacred Ganga River and a wide Son river, Bihar has a wide scope for developing aqua tourism and river sports. In ancient times the “Vihara” played this crucial role of tourism. Arrangements of floating restaurants and river cruises through motor launches and motor boats are the highlights of developing tourism in Bihar.