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Bihar - offers to the discerning tourist a variegated wealth of our ancient civilization, history and culture and religion that India stands for. The ruins of ancient capitals and learning centres and the religious sites, which are dotted over the tourist map of Bihar, remain the major draw for the people who visit the state.

The state lies steeped in history as a mute witness of rise and fall of some of India's important dynasties - the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Palas. The world's earliest university flourished here between the 5th to the 11th century, the remains of which is the biggest of the tourist attractions in Bihar.

The holy places of the Buddhist religion here form a circuit, which is renowned across the world as the most important among the tourist attractions in Bihar. And some important sites of Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism are also located within the state.

 

Main Cities / Towns

 

Patna , the capital City of Bihar

 

Patna is the capital of Bihar. On the bank of the river Ganges, the city of Patna lies basking in the glory of yore. The history and tradition of Patna go back to the earliest dawn of civilization. A travel to Patna would take to the ancient capital of Pataliputra from where the Mauryan rulers used to rule their mighty empire. Since then the city has seen rise and fall of many empires in India.

Apart from the sacred river the Ganges, the city is twice blessed by virtue of the birth of tenth Sikh prophet Guru Gobind Singh. Do not fail to visit the shrine of Harmandirji consecrate the birthplace of the prophet.

 

Tourist  attractions of  Patna  :

 

Gol Ghar :- This enormous beehive-shaped structure was constructed as a state granary following a terrible famine in 1770. A series of surrounding steps lead to the top of this huge building that commands a nice view of the river Ganges and Patna city.

Harmandriji :- The shrine was built to consecrate the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru (prophet). Many Sikh scriptures and the personal belongings of the prophet are preserved in this dome-shaped structure.

Martyr’s Memorial: - A memorial to seven freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in the Quit India Movement of August 1942, the Martyr's Memorial is a modern sculpture facing the Secretariat, where they were shot in their attempt to host the national flag.

Patna Museum:- The Patna Museum houses a First World War cannon, metal and stone sculptures of the Mauryan and Gupta periods, Buddhist sculptures and quaint terracotta figures. A 16 m long fossilised tree is one of its special features.

Jalan Museum :- The Museum has been constructed at the site of the fort of Sher Shah. The personal museum preserves a great collection of jade, Chinese paintings and silver filigree work of the Mughal period.

 

Pathar Ki Masjid :- Adjacent to Har Mandir Sahib, on the bank of the Ganga, is this beautiful mosque built by Parwez Shah, son of Jehangir, when he was the governor of Bihar. It is also called Saif Khan's mosque, Chimmi Ghat mosque and Sangi Masjid.

Sher Shah Suri Masjid :- Sher Shah Suri built this mosque in 1545 to commemorate his reign. Built in the Afghan architectural style, it is one of the many beautiful mosques in Bihar, and one of the impressive landmarks of Patna.

Khunda Baksh Oriental Library :- Founded in 1900, a magnificent one man collection of rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Rajput and Mughal paintings, oddities like the Koran inscribed in a book only 25mm wide and an assortment of old and new books from the University of Cordoba, Spain. It is one of the national libraries in India.  The library also contains the only books to survive the sacking of the Moorish University of Cordoba in Spain.

Sadagat Ashram :- The Ashram is the headquarters of Bihar Vidyapeeth, a national university. India's first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad lived here after his retirement and there is a small museum here showcasing his personal belongings.

Agam Kuan :- Agam Kuan (Unfathomable well) is one of the most important early historic archeological remains in Patna. It is situated just close to Gulzarbagh railway Station, which is proposed to be associated with the Mauryan Emperor Ashok.

Kumhrar :- Kumhrar, site of the ancient city of Patliputra, lies 5 kms from Patna railway station. Archaeological findings in this area establish Patna's claim to over a thousand years of political glory - 600 BC to 600 AD. Very little of this grandeur remains though, except for the remains of a huge Mauryan hall supported by 80 sandstone pillars dating back to 300 BC.

Gandhi Setu :- Asia's longest roadway bridge

Padri Ki Haveli :- The Place were Mother Teresa got her training.

Biological Park :- Also known as Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park

Modern Palanetrium :- - Indira Gandhi Science Complex, is one of the must visiting places in Patna. This is among few Planetarium's (Taramandal) in India.

Nalanda :

 

Nalanda forms a part of the tourism circuit of Bihar and is situated 90 kms to the south east of Patna via road. Nalanda was a leading seat of knowledge in ancient India. In the 5th century, a university was founded here by the Gupta emperors for studying Buddhism. Tourist Attractions in Nalanda feature the excavated remains of this ancient university. Elaborately planned monasteries and temples in addition to the daises for the professors speak a lot about the glorious past of Nalanda.

Tourist attractions of Nalanda :

Nalanda University Archaeological Complex, stretching across 14 hectares of land, houses red brick buildings having some magnificent gardens on the borderline. The Viharas (monasteries) in addition to the Chaityas (temples) in the premises offer a rare visual treat.

The Nalanda Archaeological Museum, is another site that ranks high amongst the Nalanda Tourist Attractions. This museum contains a remarkable collection of Buddhist and Hindu artifacts besides some Lord Buddha's statues. Two massive terra-cotta jars inside a shaded enclosure, situated behind the museum belong to the 1st century.

Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, constructed in 1951 and dedicated to the research and study of Buddhism and Pali Literature, is a new stopover amongst the Tourist Attractions in Nalanda.

Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall, built in the memory of Hieun Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveler is another sure shot winner on Nalanda Tour Packages.

Surajpur Baragaon, an admired Hindu pilgrimage positioned close to Nalanda also attracts many tourists. The Sun temple at this place beside the lake is a huge draw amongst travelers coming to Nalanda. So, hasten to book yourself for a tour to Nalanda and have a nice time.

Rajgir

Rajgir, the erstwhile capital of the Magadhan kingdom has a prominent place in Buddhist and Jain religious history. It was blessed by the founders of both these religions and many of the current Tourist Attractions in Rajgir includes places which are in some way or the other associated with these religions.

 

Tourist  attractions of  Rajgir :

Venuvana Vihara: This was a favorite retreat of Lord Buddha. King Bimbisara had offered the site to Him. Today it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rajgir.

Amaravana or Jivaka's Mango Garden: This was the site of the dispensary of Royal physician Jivaka. Lord Buddha was once brought here to have a wound dressed.


Griddhakuta or Vulture's Peak: Another major tourist attractions in Rajgir, this is the site where Lord Buddha preached many inspiring sermons here and also set in motion his second wheel of Law and for three months every year during the rainy season. Today Buddha Sangha of Japan have constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), at the top of the hill.

Ajatashatru's Fort: Ajatashatru, the king of ancient Magadha is believed to have ruled from this fort for long. Inside is the Ajatashatru's Stupa.

The Cyclopean Wall: This is the remnant of a stonewall, which once encircled ancient Rajgir during the Maurya rule.

Jain Temples: 26 Jain temples lie on the hilltops around Rajgir. It takes a hard trekking to reach the site. But for far, one can get a commanding view too.

Bimbisara's Jail: This archaic monument is a mute witness to the bloody conflicts over power within the royal families. King Bimbisara was imprisoned here by his impatient son and heir, Ajatashatru.

Swarna Bhandar: This is believed to be the king Bimbisara treasury - a cave chamber hollowed out of a single massive rock. According to folklores the treasure is still intact
 

Bodh Gaya  :

One of the main Buddhiest  holy town it is said that  Lord Buddha meditated under a Pipal tree here and attained enlightenment. The tree is called "Bodhi Tree". A descendant of the same tree, still flourishes here. Bodh Gaya, being the place where Gautam Buddha had learnt the eternal truth, is a popular tourist destination among Buddhists across the globe. There are a number of Buddhist monuments, temples and monasteries to see in Bodh Gaya. In addition to that, Bodh gaya also holds great importance for the believers of the Hindu faith. Gaya it’s  here where  Hindu Pilgrims  come to pray for the salvation of their ancestors. .

Tourist   attractions of  Bodh -Gaya :

Great Buddha Statue :- The eighty feet statue of Lord Buddha is a major attraction in Bodhgaya. The statue is in Dhyan Mudra, i.e. meditation posture on an inverted lotus. The statue is made of red granite and sandstone blocks. According to historical evidence, 12000 masons made the statue in time of seven years. Daijokyo Sect of Japan helped build this statue. The Dalai Lama consecrated the statue on November 18 1989.

Mahabodhi Temple :- The tree under which Gautama Buddha had meditated and learnt the eternal knowledge is known as the Bodhi Tree. Later on Buddhist king Ashoka built a shrine at the spot, which subsequently developed into a temple. The contemporary world knows the temple as Mahabodhi temple.

 

Dungeswari Caves :- Dungeswari caves located twelve kilometers away from Bodh Gaya are mysterious. One of these caves houses a statute of Buddha representing him when he was leading a life of austerity. These caves with statues, stone carvings, paintings, and graphics of Lord Buddha and his life, tell us the story of the life of Buddha.

Bodhi Tree :- Gautam Sidhartha had learnt the eternal knowledge of life and death under this tree. Though the actual tree is not alive, the sapling of the original tree brought from Sri Lanka is still here. In and around the 3rd century B.C Sanghamitta, the daughter of Emperor Asoka brought a branch of this Bodhi tree and planted it in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka where it still grows today. The existing tree is more than 122 years old and quadrangular stone railings of two types representing two different style and material surround it.

Bodhi Sarovar :- The pond where Gautam took bath before going in for meditation has great religious importance for Buddhists. Situated towards the west of Bodhi temple, it gives the feeling of nostalgia where you feel as if you are seeing the young prince going and coming for bath. While in Bodh Gaya the pond is worth visiting.

Chankaramana :- As it is believed when Gautam learned the eternal knowledge, he was in dilemma whether to disclose it to the world or not, and in this dilemma he started walking. It is believed that wherever Buddha put his feet lotuses sprang up. The spot is located in the north of the Bodhi Temple.



Vaishali: The city finds its mention in literature as old as the Ramayana. The second Buddhist council took place here. The place remains twice blessed by virtue of the birth of Jain prophet Lord Mahavira here in 527 BC. Historians also maintain that the world's first elected assembly of representatives was formed here giving birth to a republic in 6th century.

Vikramshila: Excavations have unearthed the ruins of Vikramshila University founded by King Dharampala.

 

Sitamarhi

 

Sitamarhi very well depicts the influences, and emanates the charisma, of its bygone era that has remained untarnished until date. The history of the city can be traced back to the Treta Yug. It portrays the perfect example of the amalgamation of the old customs and traditions and contemporary lifestyle. Sitamarhi boasts of being one of the scared places of Hindu Mythology. It comprises of some splendid temples and shrine, which form a major part of its tourist attractions. People from the different parts of the country come here to witness unique splendor.

 

Tourist attraction of  Sitamarhi

 

Janaki Temple (Sitamarhi) :- Janaki Temple is a highly respected shrine located in Sitamarhi, near bus station. The temple is devoted to Sita and along with Sita Devi, Lord Ram and Lakshman are also worshipped here. It was built approximately 100 years ago and is adorned by a spring located next to it.

Janaki Temple (Punaura)  :- Janaki Temple of Punaura) is situated at a distance of about 5-km to the southwest of Sitamarhi. Dedicated to Goddess Sita, it is one of the must-visit places on a trip to Sitamrahi.

Haleshwar Asthan  :- Haleshwar Asthan is an example the magnificent ancient architecture of India. An ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is located about 3-km to the northwest of Sitamarhi. According to local myths, the King of Videha founded this temple during Putrayeshti Yajna.

Panth Pakar :- Panth Pakar is age-old banyan tree that stands about 8-km to the northeast of Sitamarhi. The connection of this banyan tree with the Gods has given it a place of prominence in the glorious chapter of Hindu Mythology. It is said that Sita left Janakpur for Ayodhya, after her marriage to Shri Ram, in a palanquin. On her way, she rested for a while under this very banyan tree.

Pupri  :- The village of Pupri is home to a very famous temple of Lord Shiva, which is popularly known as Baba Nageshwarnath. It is said that the Lord had appeared here Himself.

Goraul Sharif :- Goraul Sharif is a Muslim pilgrimage places, situated some 26 km away from the Sitamarhi town. The place is treated only second in reverence to Bihar Sharif and Phulwari Sharif.

 

Bhojpur

Bhojpur is one of the 38 districts of Bihar. Formerly a part of the district of Shahabad, Bhojpur came into its present existence in 1992. Shahabad formed the ancient kingdom of Magadh, which also included parts of Patna and Gaya districts of Bihar. Although the district included in the kingdom of emperor Ashoka, the general absence of Buddhists’ monuments from a greater part of the region suggests that it was not influenced by the Buddhist missionaries prevalent during at that time. The historical significance of Bhojpur has contributed a lot in the development of its tourism.

 

 

Jagdishpur :- Jagdishpur is the hometown of the rebellion leader of Indian independence struggle – Babu Kunwar Singh. The place is located along the national highway about 35 km from Arrah. The residence of Babu Kunwar Singh has been converted into a museum, with his sword and other armaments put on display.

Dalaur :- Dalaur is known as the location of the final battle between Babu Kunwar Singh and the British forces in 1857.

Bibiganj :- Bibiganj is a village located 6 km towards the west of Arrah, the district headquarters of Bhojpur. According to historians, a battle between Babu Kunwar Singh and British forces took place in 1857, at a bridge located in the village.

Koilwar :- Koilwar is a small town situated on the western back of the river Sone, which is 50 km west of Patna. The healthy climate of this town makes it one of the most frequented places in the tourist map of Bhojpur.

Tar :- Tar is a village situated about 10 km northwest of Piro. The village derives its name from ‘Tarka’, a giantess killed by Lord Rama. According to a legend, an old tank located in the village was the wrestling ground of Tarka.

Masurhi :- Masurhi, a village located 5 km from Jagdishpur, is famous for being the abode of a 300 years old graveyard of Muslim saint – Masar Dewan. The grave is considered a sacred place by the Muslims.

Bisram :- It is believed that Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain Tirthankar, took rest for a short period at Bisram during his wanderings. Hence, this place is called as Bisram, which means rest. The place houses a temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira. Jains from across the country visit this place to offer prayers to their Lord.

Masadh :- Masash is abode of an ancient Jain temple dedicated to Parshwanath. Construction of this temple was completed in 1819 AD. Images with inscriptions have been found in this temple. Eight images with inscriptions dating back to 1386 A.D have been found in this temple.



Wildlife of Bihar

The world’s first tiger census had been carried out at Palamau in 1932. Today, Bihar boasts of 2 national parks and 21 sanctuaries. These include the country’s only hideout for wolves, a sanctuary for dolphins, a crocodile centre, a welcome jheel, or lake, that is home to an infinite variety of birds migrating from Central Asia.

 Palamau Tiger Reserve
The Reserve is spread over an area of 1026sq km in the Chotanagpur Plateau. The dense and dry deciduous forest of Palamau is replete with the finest bamboo groves, sal, mahua, bel and khair trees. The sixteenth century fort alongside the Auranga River adds a touch of history to this forest. The other rivers that drain Palamau are the Koel and Burha that eventually empty themselves into the famous Sone River.

Betla Wildlife Reserves
Betla is easily accessible by road. It is 25km from Daltonganj and 175km from Ranchi, the nearest airport. The best time to visit Betla is in October-November and February-March. For accommodation, one can opt for B.S.T.D.C’s Ban Vihar or the Forest Department’s Rest Houses, besides other tourist lodges, cottages and dormitories. 

The Valmiki National Park
Valmiki National Park occupies the core area of 335.64 sq.km, of more than 800sq. km of the Valmiki Sanctuary located in the West Champaran district of Bihar bordering Nepal. Valmiki was established as the 18th tiger reserve in 1990 and ranks fourth in the density of tiger population. The park is bounded by the Royal Chitwan National Park of Nepal in the north and the river Gandak on the western side with the Himalayan Mountains as a backdrop. Adjacent to the sanctuary, in the forests in Chitwan National Park of Nepal, is the historic Valmiki Ashram. 

..

Fair / Festivals of Bihars

Sonepur Cattle Fair
The Sonepur Cattle Fair/Mela , World’s biggest  cattle carnivals , is held on the full moon day (Purnima) of the Hindu lunar month of Karthik (approximately November) in Sonepur, in the Saran district in the northern part of Bihar. The Mela held on the banks of river Ganga most particularly on the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak. Till date, it is the biggest cattle fair of Asia. The fair continues for about fifteen days to one month. According to local folklore Sonepur Cattle Fair revives the Gajendra moksha legend which is related to the Hariharanatha Temple in Sonepur.

The Sonepur Fair is of great antiquity because it has its origins during ancient times. History reveals that Chandragupta Maurya used to buy elephants and horses across the river Ganges. Then it attracted traders from several places as distant as Central Asia. The site of the present fair was originally at Hajipur but shifted to Sonepur during the reign of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. One of the purposes of the people visiting the Sonepur Cattle Fair, apart from the fair, is to take a holy dip and offer puja at the Hariharnath MahadeoTemple. From local folklore it is believed that the Hariharnath temple have been originally built by Lord Rama, on his way to the court of King Janak to win the hand of his daughter princess Sita.

After offering puja in Hariharanath temple the visitors visit the various attractions offered in and around the mela ground. They are attracted to varieties of shops selling varieties of products like garments, weapons, furniture, toys, utensils, agricultural implements, jewelry and handicrafts. Folk shows, games and jugglers further add to the attraction of the Sonepur Cattle Fair. Handicrafts, paintings and pottery from all over India can be seen here. For food loving people there are varieties of cuisine from almost all parts of the country.

But the most important of all attractions is the one where numerous elephants, beautifully decorated are lined up for sale. The Sonepur Fair is the only one where such a large number of elephants are sold. These are mainly purchased by different forest departments and people involved with logging operations. Apart from elephants, a large number of cattle, a wide variety of animals and horses are also brought to the fair for sale. Nearly all types of animals are bought to the Sonepur mela like dogs, camels, buffaloes, donkeys, ponies, monkeys, chimps, Persian horses, sheep, rabbits, bears, cats, and guinea pigs. All varieties of birds, poultry and fishes are also available.

How to Reach

Sonepur is 25 kilometers from Patna, the capital city of Bihar. By Air you have to reach Patna airport. By Rail you have to board a rail to Patna or Hajipur station. From Patna or Hajipur you can hire taxi/auto for Sonepur Mela.
Chatth Puja :-
Chatth Puja is a unique festival where the setting sun is worshipped in Bihar with reverence. With full tradition Chatth festival is celebrated twice a year.

Sama Chakeva :-
This festival is celebrated in the Mithila region of Bihar dedicated to the brother- sister relationship. It is time when birds migrate from the Himalayas to the plains heralding the beginning of this festival with the girls making and decorating clay idols of various birds.
Ramnavami :-
Ramanavami festival is celebrated with traditional reverence and gaiety in Bihar with people observing seven days fasts. This is the auspicious day when lord Rama was born. Temples dedicated to Lord Rama are beautifully decorated and special prayers are carried out.
Majar Sabjrabti :-
This festival marks the end of winter and beginning of the summer season. It is also known as Tila Sankranti. Every year it is observed on the 14th of January. People celebrate it by giving offerings to the poor.
Bihula :-
This festival is celebrated in the Eastern Bihar especially famous in Bhagalpur district. People pray to goddess Mansa for the welfare of their family.
MadhushrvaniI :-
Madhushravani is celebrated in the month of Sawan (Hindu calendar August all over Mithilanchal in Bihar with enthusiasm and reverence.
Budda Jayanti :-
On Buddha Jayanti in the month of Vaisakh (April/May), Buddhists from India and abroad throng to Bodhgaya and Rajgir.
Mahavir Jayanti :-  
There are two major Jain festivals: Mahavir Jayanti (April) which is celebrated with great pomp on Parasnath hill and Deo Diwali (10 days after diwali) which marks the final liberation of Lord Mahavira in Bihar.
Saurath Sabha :-
Every year for a fortnight in June, the village of Saurath in Madhubani district witnesses a unique gathering of Mithila Brahmins from all over India.It is called Saurath Sabha and is the biggest marriage market. Parents of marriageable children bring horoscopes and negotiate marriages in a vast mango grove.

Tribal Festivals

In tribal life, there is a succession of festivals throughout the year which are connected with agricultural operations. The important festivals among them are Sarhul, Karma and Soharai. Hindu festivals of Holi and Durga puja are also celebrated with great enthusiasm by Hindu tribals.
Sarhul :-
Sarhul is the most popular of all tribal festivals. It is celebrated on the last day of Baisakh which corresponds to the month of April. It is observed at a time when sal trees are laden with flowers. It resembles the Vasant-mahotsava of the Hindus and may therefore be described as the spring festival of the tribals. It is an occasion of great festivity and enjoyment for people of all ages. All night maidens and youths sing and dance to the accompaniment of the drum, while the old sit and enjoy the enchanting dances. 
Soharai
:-Another festival among the aboriginals is Soharai or Banda parab, which occurs in the month of Pous, celebrated shortly after the harvest of the rice-crop of the year. It may be called the harvest festival of tribals. On this occasion domestic animals are worshipped, after being washed, anointed with oil and smeared with vermilion.
Karma Festival
 :-This festival is observed by the tribals as well as non-tribals. On this occasion the tribal youths spend the whole night singing and dancing. The songs sung on this occasion narrate the legends of Karma and Dharma. 
Famous Dances of Bihar

Jumari Dance of Bihar is similar to “Garva of Gujrat”. Specialized to the married women, it is a folk dance of Mithilanchal of Bihar. After the month of Ashwin (September-October) comes Kartik. The sky is crystal clear, there is no cloud, it is full moon spreading milky rays all over. Maids in love go on dancing, singing and celebrating the turns of the season.

Holi Dance

Holi is a well known festival to the whole nation. We all know that the first day of the Hindu Calendar, that is, “Pratham Chairtra Mass” is the day of “Holi”. A colourful festival which conveys the massage for religious integration apart from any sort of bigotism. There is a typical style “Dhamar” of holi singing in our villages in which the villagers celebrate it in a form of group with full joy and dances with musical instruments like dholak, jhal-manjeera, etc.

Sohar Khilouna Dance :-
The foremost event in one’s life is his birth. The birth of a child is celebrated all over the country with different traditional rituals. In Bihar, ladies always sings Sohar on the occasion of birth ceremony of a child. They sometimes compare the child with Lord Rama, sometimes with Lord Krishana and so on. Sohar has its own distinctive dictions. 

Kajri Dance :-Kajari is a song of rainy season. The popular melodious tune of Kajari songs produce a sweet sensation in body and it is heard from the very beginning of the Shravan month with the rhythmatic note of rain 

Jat – Jatin Dance :- Jat-Jatin is the most popular folk dance of North Bihar, especially in Mithila and Koshi region. It is performed by a pair of man and woman. Man goes to far-off place to earn livelihood. Jat-Jatin is a folk dance of the same emigrant husband accompanied by his spouse. Apart from poverty and sorrow, this dance reflects a rainbow of the sweet and tender quarrel as well as some complaints between husband and wife. The folk mocks to comfort the hurdles of life with a smile.


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