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Bihar

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Plains : Bihar
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The Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya
Ruins of Patliputra at Kumhrar, Patna

Bihar [1] is among India's poorest states. It lies on the Gangetic plain, with Uttar Pradesh to its west, West Bengal arching to its south and east, while Nepal is to its north. Jharkhand, the mineral-rich tribal belt, used to be part of the state, but in 2001, it was split to form its own state.

Today Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human and economic development terms, and is one of the poorest Indian states. Bihar has a rural population of 85% and the society is mainly agrarian. Northern Bihar is prone to perennial flooding. The state has seen mass migration out of the state in last few decades. Bihar saw the Naxal insurgence in last few decades, especially in Southern Bihar, but the situation has calmed down in recent years. The state has earned a very bad image outside Bihar due to caste based politics and the poor law and order situation.

Regions

Buddha's Statue at the Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya

Cities

Ruins of Nalanda University, Nalanda

Other destinations

A typical landscape in rural Bihar
  • Shimultala - Small hamlet famous as a health resort.
  • Nalanda - Site of the ruins of an ancient Buddhist university. The nearby Nalanda Multimedia Museum, the first of its kind in the country, recreates the history of Nalanda using 3D animation.
  • Valmiki Nagar

Understand

Trolly ride in Rajgri

History

Bihar has a glorious past. Ancient Bihar was a center of power, learning and culture in ancient India. India's first empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's greatest pacifist religion, Buddhism arose from here. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of northern South Asia under a central rule. Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important center of Indian civilization. Many of the ancient Indian text, written outside of the religious epics, were written in ancient Bihar. Arthashashtra and Kamasutra are the most prominent. One of the first known republic, Licchavi, existed in the region since before the birth of Mahavira (c. 599 BC). The region suffered immensely due to foreign invasions. In the medieval period Bihar lost its importance as a center of power, though it rose to prominence for a brief period during the rule of Sher Shah Suri. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the Indian independence struggle.

Talk

Shanti Stup, Rajgri

Get in

By plane

View of Gai Ghat, from Gandhi Setu bridge, in Patna

Bodh Gaya fields international flights to Bangkok (Thailand) and Paro (Bhutan), catering largely to Buddhist pilgrims. Patna is connected to major Indian cities.

By train

Bihar is connected by train to all major cities of India. Some good trains to reach the capital Patna are:

  • From Delhi - Patna Rajdhani Express(2309/2310), Sampurna Kranti Exp. (overnight journey)
  • From Kolkata - Jan Shatabdi Exp. ( 8-9 hrs.)
  • From Mumbai - Rajendra Nagar Lokmanya Tilak T. Exp.
  • From Varanasi - Vibhuti Exp. (6 hrs.).

By Road

Get around

Collectorate ghat on the bank of Ganga in Patna

See

A typical village bazaar in Bihar


Do

Eat

  • Dal bhat chhokha
  • Litti-Chokha

Drink

  • Bhang the leaf and flower of the Cannabis sativa plant, is consumed as a beverage is in many forms, the simplest of which is made by pounding bhang leaves with a little black pepper, sugar and mixing with water. Cannabis is widely produced in Bihar and sold legally at licensed Bhang shops
  • Taari
  • Sattu A powdered and baked gram mixed with water, and sometimes salt and lemon juice, for a refreshing drink.

Stay safe

Bihar has a terrible reputation for crime and banditry (or dacoity, to use the Indian word), with armed bandits recently taking to hijacking moving trains and nearly 5000 kidnappings recorded in 2007. While reality may not be quite as grim as the horror stories you'll hear from non-Biharis, it's still advisable to keep a low profile and to avoid overnight travel on the roads. A low-level Naxalite insurgency continues to bubble in the southern parts of the state, but the tourist is unlikely to venture into the affected regions.

Public transportation systems, like trains and buses, are generally over crowded. Trains in India are generally prone to theft, so it's wise to lock your luggage to the seat in the carriage and keep more aware than usual.

If you are a foreigner or don't know the local languages do get a local guide. Even otherwise a local guide would make things very easy and convenient for you.

Get out


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