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Bihar - the ancient land of Buddha OR its wooden toys and metal figures

The rustic Indian state of Bihar is one of the most striking tourist destinations in the country -- especially in the backdrop of its impressive religious, cultural and historical past. The cradle of various world famed religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism, Bihar is also the land which was the centre of many great empires, including the Mauryas, Guptas and the Nandas.

Even the British treated Bihar as an important area of their empire. Later, Bihar proved to be the chosen land for the freedom fighters as well. The noted freedom fighter Veer Kunwar Singh, who even at the ripe age of 80 gave a tough fight to the British during the First War of Indian independence, was from Arrah, Bihar. Besides, it was from Champaran, Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi started his freedom movement.

No wonder, with such an amazing and impressive background, the state has numerous world famed tourist places on its soils such as Patna (state capital), Rajgir (the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha), Bodhgaya (Lord Buddha attained enlightenment here), Nalanda (famed for the Nalanda University – the largest university of its time in the world) and Vaishali (one of the Buddha's favorite resorts).

As far as famous tourist hotspots of the state are concerned, these are the key one: Harminder Sahib (The tenth guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born here), State Museum, Khuda Baksh Oriental Library (a only one of its kind storehouse of nearly 21000 Oriental manuscripts and 2.5 lakh printed books), Gandhi Setu (one of the world’s longest bridges), Kumhrar (the remains of the ancient city of Pataliputra), Golghar (a huge granary built by the British it presents a lovely view of the capital), Sanjay Gandhi Botanical Garden and Sher Shah's Mausoleum.

Tourist Destination in Bihar

» Gaya
     

Bihar Cuisine

The cuisine of the state is also something to look forward to. Even though not as famous as the cuisine of other states -- for example, Punjab and West Bengal -- the cuisine of Bihar is still one-of-its-kind and much loved by the gourmet. The state’s dry sweets such as Khaja, Khajur, Tilkut, Khubi Ki Lai and Anarasa are just too good, and unlike the syrupy sweets of the neighboring Bengal, they last longer, and, in fact, even taste somewhat better.

Modern Bihar

Lately, Bihar has much changed and progressed. Many posh markets and housing colonies have cropped up everywhere -- more so in the capital city of Patna where the cost of properties in certain areas has left even the cost of the properties of some of the metros behind. In short, Bihar is a pretty interesting and unique tourist destination with some amazing attractions not found elsewhere.

Bihar Art, Culture & Cuisine

The people of Bihar are rather traditional and rooted to their culture and backgrounds. Majority of the people are Hindu, and all types of traditional festivals -- including Holi, Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja or Dussehra, Deepwali and Bhaiya Dooj -- are celebrated with much interest and a gay abandon. However, it is the Chaath Puja dedicated to the Sun God which is really the most widely celebrated festival of Bihar. It continues for four days and the setting sun is worshipped.

The state has an ancient tradition of lovely folk songs sung during key family occasions, including marriage and birth ceremonies. These heart rendering songs are sung chiefly in group settings and musical instruments are seldom used. However, sometimes dholak, tabla and harmonium are used to add to the appeal of such songs.

Bihar has a tradition of lively Holi songs called Phagua as well. During the 19th century, numerous people from the state had to migrate, much against their wishes, as workers to Fiji, West Indian Islands and Mauritius. At that time, several sad plays and songs known as Biraha received wide popularity in the Bhojpur region. Till this date, dramas on that theme continue to be well-liked in the many theatres of the capital city of Patna.

Talking about theatre, it is another form through which the cultural appeal of Bihar shines through. Bihar has also given several renowned Hindi writers such as Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Ram Briksha Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath Renu, not to mention Baba Nagarjun Raja.

The state is also renowned for its wonderful Madhubani Paintings and Angika Art. These excellent works of art often adorn many city homes and are also exported to other nations. Madhubani paintings are rich in natural colors, made on paper and cloth, and narrate legendary and religious events.

The people of Bihar are also avid movie watchers and the state has a strong Bhojpuri cinema industry, granting a flavor of rich traditions of Bihar. Theatre is a vital part of the lifestyle of the people in Bihar. Bidesia is a well-liked class of dance play and it is much loved by all Bhojpuri people.

Cuisine

The cuisine of the state may not be spoken in glowing terms; it still is something to talk about. Panchphorna -- a mixture of five types of spices -- is used to prepare various types of delicious vegetables. Mustard oil is preferred to other types of oils to prepare food in Bihar.

Most of the people of the state are vegetarians and so Bihar boasts of several delicious vegetarian food items which are prepared using several types of cereals and pulses, besides a variety of vegetables.

This is not to suggest that non-vegetarian food items are not savored and prepared here. In fact, the non-vegetarian items are much loved and a variety of such items are prepared by the people using all sorts of spices. Fish is preferred in the Mithila Region where even the Brahmins eat it with much joy.

Several types of dry sweet items are also prepared here which last long, unlike the more famous syrupy Bengali sweets. Khichdi made with pulses and rice is eaten with several types of pickles, papad, ghee, chutney and chokha. Sattu is used widely and stuffed into paranthas and litties. Littie- chokha is the most popular food item of the state. Bihar

Handicrafts & Textiles

Bihar Handicrafts

Bihar has a lovely custom of leather craft and tikuli making, besides papier–mache art. These crafts have won recognition all over the world. Beautiful objects are crafted in traditional and floral patterns with brilliant colors. Spiritual and religious scenes and gods and goddesses are painted as well, more so on the papier-mache products.

The state also has a rich tradition of making beautiful Sikki objects. It sees the humble blade of grass being hand-woven into charming baskets and mats. They are used at the time of marriages and other such occasions.

In the domain of wood inlay works also Bihar is rather famed. Expert craftsmen of the state are known to produce exquisite products. Wood inlays continue to be carried with various stuffs, metal, ivory, besides stag-horn. Expert craftsmen make highly decorative pieces, such as wall hangings, table tops and trays, not to mention several articles of daily use with inlay work.

In the domain of Lacquerware also the local craftsmen are experts of sorts. Lac is widely used for making wonderful items, for instance, boxes and bangles. Sindurdan, the vermilion box, offered to the bride at the time of marriage is one of such decorative objects made by those involved with the trade.

Craftsmen of Bihar are experts at Stonecraft as well. In fact, the state has a rich background in stone craft. Since the Mauryan period the state has an edge of sorts in this craft. Patharkatti in the District of Gaya is the hub of this craft in Bihar.

Bihar Textiles

Bihar is also much famous for its silk production. In fact, the state is the biggest producer of the tassar silk in the whole country, and it produces three types of silk, namely, tassar, mulberry and eri silk. Bhagalpur is a haven of sorts for tassar weaving.

The state has also carved a name for itself in the field of textile printing. It is done on cotton, wool and silk. Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Saran, Bihar Sharif, Patna…these are well known places of Bihar for this. In Gaya, it is pretty common to come across the spiritual textiles with the names or footprints of the gods and goddesses.

The chunris of the state also need to be mentioned. Beautiful designs are printed on these chunris, which are traditional, besides floral and animal figures.

Bihar is also much known for the lovely Sujini and Khatwa Embroidery works. Sujini is a traditional quilt made with several layers of clothes chiefly in the rural areas. While old and worn out clothes are stuffed into the quilt, cotton and bright and colorful threads are employed for the embroidery purpose from outside. Khatwa is equally famous. It is the applique work of the state used to produce attractive tents, shamianas, besides canopies.

Bihar Fairs & Festivals

Much like other states of India, Bihar celebrates numerous festivals, and participates and organizes various fairs with much passion and enthusiasm. However, the degree of fervor with which the people of the state celebrate their many festivals, especially those which have their origins in Bihar, is rather unique and hard to find. Same holds true with the fairs.

In the ancient times, the Vedic religion enjoyed good hold over Bihar. There are fascinating myths and legends attached to the foundation of these fairs and festivals. While some of the festivals in Bihar are of religious nature and inspire spiritually inclined visitors from everywhere in the country, others depict the rich cultural wealth of the state in varied shades of colors and forms. Many festivals are also related with the overall lifestyle of the people, season change, besides harvesting.

Top Festivals of Bihar

These are some of the leading festivals of Bihar :

Chatth Puja : It is one of the most important festivals of Bihar. Local people celebrate this festival with a great deal of religious fervor. The setting sun is worshipped on the occasion. Chatth Puja is celebrated twice a year (March and November). It is a four day festival during which people sing folk songs in the honour of the ‘Surya Dev’ and the 'Chatti Maiyya'. These highly devotional songs blare out of loud speakers from almost everywhere during the festival during which women keep fast for the welfare of their family members.

Sama-Chakeva : It is mainly a winter festival and celebrated in the Mithila region. Celebrated to boost the loving bond between sisters and their brothers, Sama-Chakeva sees the brightly multi-colored birds from the Himalayas making a move towards the plains. On the occasion, girls make idols of birds with clay and decorate those objects in their own time-honored manner. A number of rituals are also followed and performed during the joyful festival which concludes with the return of the birds with a hope that they would come back the next year.

Ram Navami : It's a famed Hindu festival which is celebrated with much happiness and religious passion across the nation with Bihar being no exception. On this very auspicious day, Lord Rama appeared on the scene. Devotees mark the occasion by observing fasts and by offering prayers in the god’s honor.

Makar-Sankranti : This unique festival, also called Tila Sankranti, signals the start of the summer season. It is observed on January 14 every year. Offerings to the needy and poor people are made on this occasion.

Bihula : It is a famous festival celebrated in the eastern part of Bihar – more so in the district of Bhagalpur. Goddess Mansa is worshiped on the occasion and people pray for the overall welfare and happiness of their family members.

Madhushravani : This interesting festival is celebrated all over Mithilanchal with a gay abandon during August.

Teej : It's celebrated by women and they pray for the long life and welfare of their husbands.

Maha Shivratri, Basant Panchami, Holi, Durga Puja, Raksha Bandhan, Id, Bakrid, Deepawali and Christmas are some of the other key festivals celebrated by the people in the state.

Fairs

Sonepur Fair : Located nearly 35 km away from Vaishali -- on the confluence of the Ganga and Gandak Rivers -- there’s a place called Sonepur which hosts the biggest animal fair in the entire Asia called Sonepur Fair. This one-of-its-kind fair attracts millions of visitors.

Pitrapaksha Mela : Held in Gaya during September, Pitrapaksha Mela sees people from all across the nation visiting Gaya for performing ‘Pinda daan’. On the occasion, people pray to the god that they get a son who gives him pinda daan (bowl of rice) at Gaya. ‘Pinda daan’ is a sacred ritual which is performed by the relatives of the dead people for the 'moksha' (liberation) of the departed souls.

Mahatma's Footsteps in Bihar

Bihar played an important role in the freedom movement of India and gave a number of freedom fighters to the cause of Indian nationalism. It is also closely related with the works and activities of the Mahatma Gandhi who shot to limelight and occupied center stage of the Indian freedom movement, post his taking up the cause of the indigo farmers in the Champaran District of Bihar.

Champaran is one of the famed destinations related with the work of Mahatma Gandhi related to freedom movement in India, and is the most important place in the famed Gandhi Circuit in Bihar which also includes Patna -- the state capital. Champaran has a huge significance in the history of the freedom movement of India. It was here that Mahatma Gandhi took his first step in the direction of building up of the Indian freedom movement and nationalism in the country.

Bihar Gandhi Circuit is famous for the Champaran movement which was started as a protest against the highly exploitive economic system. It continued there for long. The key goal of this movement was to protect the oppressed indigo planters in the country.

Champaran was a fertile ground for indigo plantation, the cultivation of which gave the British much money. There were indigo factories at Bara, Turkaulia, Peepara, Motihari and Rajpur. The torture of the planters by the British was increasingly becoming intolerable to the farmers there. Their representatives requested the Indian National Congress to do something and this brought Mahatma Gandhi to the place.

While in Champaran, Mahatma Gandhi went on a tour almost all villages there and did much social work. These are some of the such places of Champaran: Motihari in the East Champaran; Hazarimal Dharmshala, Betia in the West Champaran; Bhitiharwa Ashram in the West Champaran; Brindaban in the West Champaran; Shri Rampur in the West Champaran; Koeldih in the West Champaran; Amolwa in the West Champaran; Sariswain the West Champaran and Hardiya Kothi in the West Champaran.

Patna

Mahatma Gandhi also toured Patna, which actively participated in the Indian freedom movement. There’s a place called the Sadaquat Ashram in Patna which is located on the Patna Danapur Road. This Ashram played an extremely significant role in the freedom movement of the country. This was one of the key spots in Bihar which organized the people to unite and stand against the torture and the exploitation of the British rulers.

Mahatma Gandhi was quite impressed with the nationalism of the people there. Gandhi Sangrahalaya or the Patna Museum located in Patna is another place connected with Gandhi in Bihar. It houses several objects and artifacts involving the life of Mahatma Gandhi. This museum showcases the objects and testimonials associated with Gandhiji's 'Satyagraha' movement in the state.

The Patna Museum also houses a rich collection of Gandhian literature, apart from photographs covering the great leader’s life and activities. However, the USP of the museum is the "Charkha", a spinning wheel used by Mahatma Gandhi.

Bihar Jain Circuit

The Indian state of Bihar is closely associated with Jainism and Vardhaman Mahavira – the 24th and the last Tirthankara who was born sometime during the middle of the 6th century BC to a nobleman called Siddharth. The predecessor of Lord Mahavira was Parshwa, the 23rd Tirthankara.

These are some of the famed Jain destinations of Bihar which are related with life and death of Lord Mahavira. Most of the tour operators dealing with Bihar and its many attractions, especially the holy and sacred places, regularly chalk-out interesting travel itineraries that cover almost all well-known sacred spots in Bihar related with Jainism and Lord Mahavira.

Vaishali : The Swethambara sect of Jainism believes that it is the birth place of the Lord Mahavira, who was born in 599 BC and lived here till he turned 22.

Pawapuri : Another sacred place for the Jains, Pawapuri, also called Apapuri (the sinless town), is situated in the Nalanda District. It is 101 kilometers from Patna -- the capital of Bihar. The famous disciple of Lord Mahavira Ajatshatru ruled over Magadh while Lord Mahavira was still alive. King Hastipal ruled over Pawapuri then. When Lord Mahavira visited Pawapuri, he stayed with King Hastipal.

Sometime during 500 BC, Moksha or Nirvana came Lord Mahavira’s way and he was cremated at Pawapuri. As there ensued a mad scramble to get hold of his ashes, so much soil was removed from the place of his cremation that a pond appeared on the scene. Presently, a beautiful marble temple called the Jalmandir exists at the place. There’s another famed Jain temple, called Samosharan. It exists at the place where Lord Mahavira is believed to have come out with his last and final teaching.

Bisram (Arrah) : It is said that Lord Mahavira took rest for some time at this very spot. So, this place is known as Bisram meaning rest. This sacred place is thronged by the followers of Jainism from across the nation, round the year. There are as many as 45 Jain temples at Arrah.

Masar : Yet another famous place related with Jainism, the village of Masar is situated close to 9kms away from the Arrah town. An ancient Jain temple dedicated to Parsvanatha exists here. The temple has eight images. It took several years to conclude this beautiful temple which was finally completed during 1819 A.D. During the month of Shravana, thousands of Jains tour this holy Jain place.

Sitamarhi & Bihar Ramayana Circuit

Bihar is a blessed land and the birth place of numerous religions and sages. It also houses several sacred spots belonging to different religions which are sometimes covered under religious and spiritual circuits such as the Ramayana Circuit, Jainism Circuit and Buddhism Circuit by the many tour operators covering Bihar, who make interesting tour packages for the visitors to the state.

The Bihar Ramayana Circuit includes those places in the state which are related with the lives of Lord Rama and the Goddess Sita or mentioned in any manner in the legendary epic of Ramayana. The places covered under the Bihar Ramayana Circuit are the subjects of several mythological stories.

Sitamarhi : This is believed to be the holy spot where the Goddess Sita -- the wife of Lord Rama -- was born. Sitamarhi is a holy place for the Hindus. It has a deep history which dates back to the Treta Yug. Sita came to life out of an earthen pot, while Raja Janak, her father, was busy ploughing a field at a place called Punaura near Sitamarhi.

Afterwards, Raja Janak dug a tank at the place where Sita emerged and following her wedding he installed the stone figures of Rama, Sita and Laxman to mark the spot. This tank is famous as Janaki-kund and is located towards south of the Janaki Mandir.

Tar (Bhojpur) : This is the place where Lord Rama had a fight with the demoness Tarka who was eventually killed by the god.

Ahirauli (Buxar) : Here, Lord Rama set free Devi Ahalya from a curse which had turned her into stone.

Pretshila Hills (Gaya): There was a demon called Gaya who was quite pained at all the sufferings brought about by death. Lord Vishnu, whose incarnation was Lord Rama, was rather pleased to find a demon with such a compassionate heart. He gave the demon a boon which enabled him to pardon the sinners.

Ramchura : One of the key holy destinations of the Ramayana Circuit, Ramchura is the place where a tired Lord Rama, on his way to Janakpur, took rest for sometime.

Panth Pakar : The Goddess Sita took rest under a Banyan Tree located at Panth Pakar which is situated nearly eight kilometers away from Sitamarhi.

Valmiki Nagar : This holy place situated in the West Champaran District houses a Valmiki Ashram named after the Maharishi Valmiki who created the great Indian epic, the Ramayana.

Bihar Religious Tourism

Bihar is one of the most sacred destinations in India and literally dotted with several religious and cultural spots belonging to all religions and faiths. No wonder, Bihar is famously called the "Land of Nirvana" and Bihar Religious Tourism seems to much interest the visitors. Several renowned spiritual gurus and saints, including the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, were born here. Mythology suggests that even some of the gods and goddesses, such as the Goddess Sita -- wife of Lord Rama, daughter of King Janak – were born here.

Many world famed religions too were born and nurtured in the holy and blessed environs of Bihar which itself comes from the word ‘Vihar’ meaning a monastery. In fact, at one time the landscape of Bihar boasted of thousands of monasteries. Maybe, because Lord Buddha took a special liking to this place and blessed it with his holy presence. Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali and Vikramshila…these are just some of the leading Buddhist spots in Bihar, which remind one of the state’s great Buddhist connections.

Bihar was pivotal in the spread of Jainism as well. The presence of the holy such places as Vaishali, Pawapuri and Bhagalpur in Bihar points towards the fact that the state has great connect with Jainism as well. It is said that the founder of Jainism Lord Mahavira was born in Vaishali, Bihar.

Even Sikhism found a fertile ground in Bihar and took deep roots in the state. The tenth guru of Sikh, Guru Gobind Singh was born at Patna Sahib, near Patna -- the capital of Bihar. Apart from Patna Sahib, Guru ka Bag is another famed Sikh religious spot in Bihar that points to the state’s close links with Sikhism.

Though Buddhism and Jainism apart from Sikhism prospered and thrived in the holy environs of Bihar, it is Hinduism which is the main religious attraction of the state. Bihar boasts of innumerable Hindu shrines and religious spots spread across its length and breadth. Some of the most important Hindu rituals such as Pinda Daan are performed here, in Bodh Gaya to be precise. In fact, Bihar is the one of the only two places in the country where this highly hallowed ritual is performed which frees soul from the eternal cycle of life and death.

These are just some of the famed temples and Hindu Shrines of Bihar which show that the state is a rich land for Hinduism and those following it : Vishnupad Temple (Gaya), Pita Maheshwar Temple (Gaya), The Hariharnath Temple (Sonepur), Patan Devi (Patna), Mahavir Temple (Patna), Sun Temple (Deo, Aurangabad), Thawe Ma durga Temple (Gopalganj), Janki Mandir (Sitamarhi), Vishnu Temple (Pantit, Arwal), Devi Sthan (Banshi Village, Arwal), Sankat Mochan Mandir (Madhubani) and Kali Mandir (Madhubani).

The followers of Islam also find in Bihar a blessed place for their religion. Bihar-E-Sharif, Maner Sharif, Phulwari Sharif and Sher Shah Masjid (Patna) – these are just some of the many well-known religious spots for the followers of Islam.

Not to be left behind, even the Christians feel much blessed in Bihar and have a few famous holy spots special for their religious beliefs. Padari ki Haveli (Patna) is one such holy spot which occupies a pretty high place in the heart of the Christians.

In view of the state's amazing religious and cultural background, the state government and many tour operators covering Bihar come up with numerous attractive programmes and tour packages. And, these enable the religiously inclined visitors to cover the many spiritual spots and religious festivals and events of Bihar -- such as the newly started Ganga Aarti on the ghats of the Ganges in Patna -- in a rather nice manner, in the process, boosting Bihar Religious Tourism like never before. But then no one seems to be really complaining – certainly not the spiritually and religiously inclined visitors to Bihar.

River Tourism in Bihar

A noteworthy characteristic about the topography of Bihar is its vast network of rivers including the Ganges, Ghagra, Gandak and Sone. The sacred Ganges River plays a very important role in Bihar. Many cities of the state -- such as Patna, Bhagalpur and Munger, besides Buxar -- are located by it or its tributaries. In fact, the Ganga River is the lifeline of the state and is literally revered by the local Hindus.

Of late, river tourism that employs the tourism potentials of the rivers is fast gaining importance in the state and interesting strategies and initiatives are being undertaken to pitchfork Bihar as one of the leading destinations in India from the viewpoint of river tourism.

To being with, taking a leaf out of the hugely famous practice of the ‘Ganga Arti' at Varanasi and Haridwar, the Bihar Tourism Body has introduced Ganga Arti in Bihar. Started recently at the Patna's Gandhi Ghat, Ganga Arti has become a hit right away. Held every Saturday and Sunday, post sunset, the Ganga Arti of Patna is no less spectacular and soul- stirring than the ones held at Varanasi and Hardwar.

It sees a group of priests chanting religious hymns and holding golden lamps in their hands to please the holy river. Lasting close to an hour, the motive behind starting the Ganga Arti is to boost religious sentiments and also river tourism in Bihar. It is hoped that the Ganga Arti will soon become a key draw for both the local people and those coming from outside.

The mega success of the Ganga Arti has made the state tourism mull over starting a similar exercise at Bhagalpur, Munger and Buxar also to boost and spread cultural awareness and tourism in the area.

Plans are also afoot to develop Ganga Cruise with eating options and developing weekend motor boat picnics on the Ganges. The motor boat picnic in the Ganges has already been launched. Under this scheme, two eight seater motor boats from Gandhi Ghat (near Engineering College), down stream in the Ganges are in operation. These motor boats not only afford a fun-filled and exciting river journey to the tourists but also take them to a river Island. The river island has suitable arrangements for rest, recreation, besides eatables.

It also has facilities for certain recreational activities like Volley Ball, Flying Disc and Cricket, besides Ring ball. Facilities for tasty food stuffs also exist. Tourists avail of the sports facilities and enjoy eatables by making nominal payments. Picnickers also have the option of purchasing food coupons and sports coupon either from Gandhi Ghat or from the river island.

These are just some of the many initiatives to boost Bihar river tourism. Much or this is concentrated at and near Patna currently. However, pretty soon other destinations located by the Ganges and other rivers in Bihar would too be covered and made a part of the river tourism in Bihar which seems to have a rather bright future in the state.

Bihar Rural & Agricultural Tourism

Lately, tourism is being aggressively boosted in Bihar and new and interesting initiatives related to tourism are being undertaken by the state tourism body and other concerned organizations and people. Niche tourism such as river tourism and rural & agricultural tourism are also occupying the thoughts of those who matter there.

What is rural tourism? And where does Bihar fit into it? Any type of tourism which highlights the rural life, art, culture and heritage at rural spots, in the process, proving useful and beneficial for the local community financially and socially, besides facilitating interaction between the visitors and the local people for an improved tourism experience may be called rural tourism.

Rural tourism is mainly an activity which occurs in the rural and agricultural areas. It is comprehensive and could incorporate agricultural tourism, nature tourism, cultural tourism, adventure tourism, not to mention eco-tourism. Unlike the usual forms of tourism, rural tourism has some typical uniqueness. For example, it focuses on first-hand experience, the places covered are thinly populated, it is mostly nature based and occurs in natural environment, it engages seasonality and local happenings and is concerned about the preservation of the local culture and heritage, besides traditions.

Coming back to Bihar, the state has tremendous scope for rural tourism and the state could emerge as one of the leading rural and agricultural destinations in the country from the tourism perspective. Bihar is primarily rural and agricultural in nature with acres and acres of agricultural land occupying the landscape of the state which is literally sliced by a number of rivers, including the mighty Ganges.

Further, most of the people live in villages in Bihar (Nearly 85% of the population stays in the country sides) which offers ample scope for rural tourism in the state. Under rural tourism, plans are afoot to link the villages to tourism development in Bihar by the concerned bodies and this is likely to inspire the tourists to take pleasure in the scenic and idyllic country life of the state. A move in this direction is also likely to create employment in the rural areas linked to tourism in the state.

One hopes that rural and agricultural tourism in Bihar is poised for bigger growth and things are likely to improve a lot on this front, in the process, boosting overall tourism in the state and attracting the attention of the world towards the rich and inspiring rural and agricultural heritage of the state of Bihar.

Bihar Nature & Wildlife Tourism

Bihar is much famous for its sacred spots (Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Pawapuri) and for being the cradle of several religious faiths (Buddhism and Jainism) and spiritual gurus (Guru Govind Singh). It's also famed for its connection with the freedom movements and the Sepoy Mutiny. However, few people know that this relatively lesser visited tourist places of India also has an amazing and rich wildlife and is a nature-endowed state.

Though, post the separation of Jharkhand from Bihar, most of the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries went to Jharkhand, such as Palamu National Park and Hazaribagh National Park, Bihar still has numerous wildlife sanctuaries and forest reserves which are home to a rich and varied species of flora and fauna that much inspire the wildlife and nature lovers and significantly boost Bihar Nature & Wildlife Tourism.

A brief look at the Bihar Wildlife attractions

The Valmiki National Park: Located in the West Champaran District of Bihar, next to Nepal, this national park has the wonderful Himalayas as a backdrop. The historic Valmiki Ashram in the Chitwan National Park of Nepal is located nearby. The famed One-horned rhinoceros and Indian Bison time and again make a move to Valmikinagar from Chitwan. The USP of the Valmiki National Park are the Tigers. Among other wildlife attractions, leopards, sambars, chitals, nilgais, hyenas, Indian civets and Hog deer are the leading names.

Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary : This wildlife spot is located in the heart of the state and dominated by tropical dry deciduous forests. It boasts of several species of wildlife, including leopards, hyenas, barking deer and nilgais.

Gautam Buddha Sanctuary : Situated in Gaya, Gautam Buddha Sanctuary has almost similar climes as the Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary.

Bhimbandh Sanctuary : Located in the Munger District Bhimbandh Sanctuary is set on the well-known Kharagpur Hill Range. Tiger, Leopards, Sloth Bear, Nilgai, Sambhar, Barking deer, Wild Beer, four horned Antelope…these are some of the famous attractions of this wildlife and nature spot.

Rajgir Sanctuary : It is situated 105 km from the Patna Airport and is much famous for its numerous hot water springs. Leopard, Hyena, Barking Deer, Nilgai…these are just some of the famed wildlife attractions of this sanctuary. However, it is the Wild Bear which is really the USP of this region.

Kaimur Sanctuary : Situated in the Kaimur District, the Kaimur Sanctuary boasts of Black bucks, Nilgai, Chinkara, Tiger, Leopard, Hyena, Wild boar and sloth bear.

Gautam Buddha Sanctuary : It is a well-known forest reserve and has several wildlife species, including Tigers, Leopards.

Udayapur Sanctuary : Situated in the West Champaran District, this wildlife destination of Bihar is located 15 km away from Bettiah, and houses several species of wildlife.

Kabar Jheel Bird Sanctuary : Much famous for the Kabar Jheel (Lake), this Bird Sanctuary is near Begusarai and a haven for bird watchers, this place attracts over 59 species of migratory birds, besides 106 residential species and nearly 31 types of fishes.

Gogabil Bird Sanctuary : Located 26 km from Katihar this Sanctuary is a wetland and rich in aquatic flora and fauna. It also attracts a host of migratory birds during the winter season.

Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary : It is situated in Bhagalpur District and covers a 50 km stretch of the Ganges River between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon. Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary is the first of its kind and the only such sanctuary in Asia for the protection and conservation of the endangered Gangetic Dolphins, called Susu locally.

Sufism Heritage of Bihar

Bihar is one of the leading sufi destinations in India and one of the much preferred tourist places from the religious tourism viewpoint. Actually, the sacred and holy atmosphere of the state -- much like other saints and spiritual gurus -- attracted the Sufis a lot who made Bihar their base and advocated the various schools of thoughts related to Sufism.

The Sufi Circuit in Bihar mainly covers the regions dominated by the Sufis belonging to the Wajudia School. They had an abiding and deep faith in the thought 'Everything is He (Hama Oast)'.

It were they were at first gave religion a philosophical touch. Among the most important sufi saints of Bihar the names of M.Shahab-ud-din or 'Pir Jagjot' of Jethuli, H. Badr-i-Alam of Choti Dargah, Mir Fazlullah Gosain of Daira, Farid-ud-din Tawaila Bux of Chandpura, Ahmad Isa Taj of Bhaisaur, Ataullah Baqhdali of Mir Dad and Syed Sadr-ud-din Zahidi stand out.

Sufi Circuit of Bihar

Maner Sharif : This place is located 32 kilometers away from the capital of Bihar, Patna. It was here that the celebrated Sufi saint Makhdoom Daulat breathed his last. Presently, Maner Sharif has a lovely mausoleum of his built by Ibrahim Khan. This building -- popular as Chhoti Dargah -- is a wonderful structure with its walls decorated with lovely designs. Maner Sharif was also home to another famed sufi saint called Sheikh Yahia Maneri or Makhdum Yahia. His tomb is also located at Maner Sharif, called the Bari Dargah.

Phulwari Sharif : Located seven kilometers away from the Patna Junction, Phulwari Sharif is regarded as one of the well-known Islamic pilgrimage destinations and a much preferred spot by Sufi saints. Since long, the Sufi saints loved this area and made it their base. The great Hazrat Pir Muzibullah Quadri lived in Phulwari Sharif during the 18th Century.

Hasanpura : Situated 21 kilometers away from Siwan, Hasanpura was the abode of the well-known sufi saint Makhdum Saiyed Hasan Chisti who eventually founded the Hasanpura Village.


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