Bihar: Rajgir

 

In ancient times, Rajgir was a very rich city. Rajgir was previously known as Rajgriha or the royal palace. Rajgir is also well known as Giribraj and Panchpahari. The hills called Baibhar, Bipul, Ratnagiri, Udaigiri and Songiri acted as the boundaries of the city. Rajgir was the capital of Jarasandha, the king of Magadh. Buddha had lived in Rajgir for 12 years. The name of the city is also associated with the Jain saint, Bardhaman Mahibir. In remembrance of Mahabir there is a temple atop the hill. The Jain epic, Tripitaka, was also written in Rajgir. The temple, situated at an elevation of 1800 feet, can be seen by crossing 566 staircases in one and half hours. The stairway has started from Saptarshi Kunda, Rajgir.

The newly constructed city now has its own attractions.  The chief attraction of the city is the hot spring, located at the south-eastern side of Benuban (Rajgir). There are idols of seven saints called Goutam, Bharadwaj, Vishwamitra, Jamdyagni, Durbasha, Bashistha, Parashar in the temple which is situated under the ground. An idol of Arundhati is also there, residing beside the idol of Bashistha. The sight of the 7 streams of hot spring coming out through the different slopes of the hill is really magnificent and the specialty of it is the difference of temperature of each of these streams. Brahmakunda, one of the streams, has a temperature of 45 degree Celsius. Satadhara, Shaligram, Saptarshi, Sitaram, Ganesh and Suryakunda are the other streams of the hot spring. The water has a medicinal power due to the presence of sulfur in the water. The stream has a curative power for the skin deceases and arthritis. It is recommended to take rest for sometime after taking bath. Don’t forget to visit the near by Japanese pagoda.

Rajgriha, the capital of the Magadh, had a fort. Even though the fort had 32 doors but only one door of the fort, at the northern side of it, is still surviving. The name of the fort is Ajatshatru fort. The fort was built by cutting down the rocks and the two walls around the fort ensured the security of the fort. Ajatshatru stupa (the shrine) was also there spreading over an expansive area of 6.5 square km. Later the capital of Ajatshatu was shifted to Patali village, or Patna.

The renowned Amraban or Aambagan (Orchard of Mango) of Jibak was the dispensary of Jibak, the doctor of the king of Magadh. It is believed that Buddha came to Jibak once for his treatment.

Bimbisar who lost the war to Ajatshatru, was under the custody of Ajatshatru in a place which was spreading over 18.58 square meters and there was an 1.8 meters wide surrounding wall. The custody is named as Bimbisara custody. Bimbisar used to see Buddha on the Gridhrakut hill from the custody.

Swarna Bhandar, the 'store of gold', is a landmark of Rajgir. Swarna Bhandar, the treasury of Bimbisara, was a two storied store room and it used to look like a cave. The staircase and the 1st floor are in ruins.

At the downside of Swarna Bhandar, there is a ground where Bhima and Jarasandha got engaged in a fight according to the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The place is named as Maniar Math in remembrance of the fight. The Maniar Matth is said to be a monastery of a cult which worshipped snakes. Don’t forget to visit the custody of Jarasandha .

Jaiprakash Narayan Udyan, situated at the opposite side of Swarna Bhandar and Sonbhandar, the store room of valuable things of Jarasandha are the other coveted places of Rajgir. Things written on the walls of Sonbhandar are yet to be read.

Benuban Vihar or the monastery was built by Bimbisara. Bimbisara had gifted the monastery to Buddha and this was his first gift to Buddha. Excavation has confirmed the richness of the city. Don’t miss the adjoining deer park or zoo.

Birayatan Brahmi Kala Mandiram (temple) depicts the various stories of Mahabir’s life. You should also see the Japanese temple on the way to Kala Mandiram.

The first Buddha council was established by Ajatshatru in Saptaparni cave, located at 12 km towards the southern side of the Hot Spring. The council could be reached by crossing 1000 staircases. On the occasion of 2500 years of Buddha’s birth, Buddha sangha of Japan decided to build a shrine atop the Ratnagiri hill spending 18, 00000. It took 18 months to complete it.

Biswasanti stup (Shrine), situated in a beautiful natural backdrop, is 125 feet tall and the diameter of the shrine is 144 feet. A temple of Buddha is also there. The idol in this temple is made of gold and the unique style of the idol is eye catching.

Enjoy the delightful ropeway ride, situated at a distance of 5 km from the city. The romantic ride will only take 7 minutes of your time.

Road to Gridhrakut hill, situated at the northern side of Rajgriha, is very tough. There are two caves on the top of the hill. Buddhadeb lived here for many days along with his descendent. Arguably, Buddhadeb eat sweetmeat from his devotee Sujata. The place is also known as Rathke Utar as Bimbisar used to come here by Rath or tanga (A special type of car pulled by horse).

Apart from these places, Rajgir also has 26 setambar jain temple, Digambar temple, Burmij temple in the middle of natural surrounding, Buddha temple, Ashram of Anandamayee mother, Sri Ramkrishna Math, Deer park, Mukdumkunda. Hire a tanga to complete the tour of Rajgir. It will cost you 100 to 200 rupees.

If you want to buy something from Rajgir then Magadh Handicrafts Emporium is the best place for you. A lot of visitors are attracted to Rajgir due to its pleasant weather. The best time to visit Rajgir is during the month of October- March. Shilau, situated between Rajgir and Nalanda, is famous for a sweet called “Khaja”.

How to reach: Bakhtiarpur junction is well connected from Sealdah and Howrah railway stations, Kolkata. You can go to Rajgir by availing another train from Bakhtiarpur junction. Buses, and share taxis are also going to Rajgir from Bakhtiarpur junction. Some of the direct trains are also available from Kolkata to Rajgir.

Where to stay: Hotel Ajatshatru Vihar, Hotel Tathagat Viuhar, Hotel Mamta, Bidesh Ghar, Hotel Shalimar and The Rajgir Residency. Refer to our tour planning links for a complete update.
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