Buddha lived in the sixth century BC. Mahavir was born in 567
BC and the traveller in Bihar will encounter them both constantly.
Rajgir is 10km south of Nalanda and sacred to the memory of the
founder of both Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months
of retreat during the rainy season here, and used to meditate
and preach on Griddhkuta, the 'Hill of the Vultures'. Lord Mahavir
spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda. It was
in Rajgriha that Lord Buddha delivered some of his famous sermons
and converted king Bimbisara of the Magasha Kingdom and countless
others to his creed. Once a great city, Rajgir is just a village
today, but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain,
like the cyclopean wall that encircles the town and the marks
engraved in rock that local folklore ascribes to Lord Krishna's
chariot. This legend, like many others associates Rajgir to that
distant time when the stirring events recorded in the epic Mahabharata
were being enacted.
Rajgir is located in a verdant valley surrounded by rocky hills.
aerial ropeway provides the link with a hill-top stupa "Peace
Pagoda" built by the Japanese. On one of the hills in the
cave of Saptparni, was held the first Buddhist Council. The Saptparni
cave is also the source of the Rajgir Hot Water Springs that have
curative properties and are sacred to the Hindus.
or Jivaka's Mango Garden
Site of the Royal Physician's dispensary where the Lord Buddha
was once brought to have wound dressed by Jivaka, the royal physician
during the reign of Ajatashatru and Bimbisara.
Site of the monastery Venuvana Vihar built by king Bimbisara for
Lord Buddha to reside. This was the King's first offering to Lord
Built by Ajatashatru (6th century B.C.), the king of Magadha during
the Buddha's time. The 6.5 sq. metre Ajatashatru's Stupa is also
believed to have been built by him.
King Bimbisara was imprisoned here by his impatient son and heir,
Ajatashatru. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration.
For, from this spot, he could see Lord Buddha climbing up to his
moutain retreat atop the Griddhakuta Hill. There is a clear view
of the Japanese Pagoda. The stupa of peace was built on the top
of the hill.
Two rather strange cave chambers were hollowed out of a single
massive rock. One of the chambers is believed to have been the
guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and
one horizontal line cut into the rock; this 'doorway' is supposed
to lead to king Bimbisara treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhalipi
or shell script, etched into the wall and so far undeciphered,
are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure,
according to folklore, is still intact.
second chamber bears a few traces of seated and standing guards
etched into the outer wall.
The Cyclopean Wall
Once 40 km. long, it encircled ancient Rajgir. Built of massive
undressed stone carefully fitted together, the wall is one of
the few important pre-Mauryan stone structures ever to have been
found. Trace of the wall still subsist, particularly at the exit
of Rajgir to Gaya.
or Vulture's Peak
This was the place where the Lord Buddha set in motion his second
wheel of Law and for three months every year during the rainy
season,preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples. The Buddha
Sangha of Japan have constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti
Stupa (Peace Pagoda), at the top of the hill in commemoration.
A bridle path leads up to the hill but it is much more fun to
take the Aerial Chairlift which operates every day except Thursday.
One way ride takes 7.5 minutes and the view is splendid over the
hills of Rajgir.
On hill crests around Rajgir, far in the distances one can see
about 26 Jain temples. They are difficult to approach for the
untrained, but make exciting trekking for those in form.
At the foot of the Vaibhava Hill. A staircase leads up to the
various temples. Separate bathing places have been organised for
men and women and the water comes through spouts from Saptdhara,
the seven streams, believed to find their source behind the "Saptaparni
Caves", up in the hills. The hottest of the springs is the
Brahmakund with a temperature of 450C.
Above the hot springs on the Vaibhava Hill, is a rectangular stone
sculpted by the forces of nature which appears to have been used
as a watch tower. Since it later became the resort of Pious hermits,
it is also called Pippala Cave and popularly known as "Jarasandh
Ki Baithak" after the name of the king Jarasandh,a contemporary
of Lord Krishna described in the epic Mahabharata.
Places of Interest
Other archaeological sites including the Karnada Tank where Lord
Buddha used to bathe, the Maniyar Math that dates from the 1st
century AD, the Maraka Kukshi where the still unborn Ajatashatru
was cursed as a patricide, the Rannbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh
fought one of the Mahabharat battles. The Chariot Route and shell
inscriptions are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon,
two parallel furrows cut deep into the rock for about thifty feet
giving credence to the local belief that they were "burnt"
into the rock by the speed and power of Lord Krishna's chariot
when he entered the city of Rajgir during the epic Mahabharata
times. Several shell inscriptions, the undeciphered characters
current in central and eastern India from the 1st to the 5th centuries
AD, are engraved in the rock around the chariot marks. Virayatan--a
Jain temple and Museum.
Air : The nearest airport is Patna (107km).
: The nearest railway station on Delhi-Howrah (Calcutta) main
line is Bakhtiyarpur 54Kms. Though the loop line connects nalanda
: Rajgir is connected by Road to Patna, Gaya, Delhi.
Bodhgaya | Kesaria
| Lauria Nandangarh | Nalanda
| Patna | Pawapuri
| Vaishali | Vikramshila