Rajgir tour – journey to the land of Buddha

Rajgir – a small town of Bihar with remnants of history is one of the most popular tourist destinations of the state. However, Rajgir tour apart from being a mere historic tour is also a pilgrimage tour to many. The historic town of Rajgir, located in a valley surrounded by seven rocky hillocks, also has the distinction of being a popular health resort. This ancient historic city believed to be 3000 years old has now became an important destination for followers of Buddhism and Jainism. Many archaeological reminiscent of the life and teachings of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira is located in and around Rajgir, making it a sought after pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and Jains from around the world. Moreover, the presence of a number of hot water springs having medicinal values in and around Rajgir has made it a popular and sought after health resort.

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Peace Pagoda or Viswa Shanti Stupa at Rajgir

Where is Rajgir?

The historic town of Rajgir is in the Nalanda district of the Indian state of Bihar. The town of Rajgir is barely 15 Km from Nalanda and 100 Km from the state capital, Patna.

About Rajgir

Rajgir is one of the oldest towns of India, which even finds mention in the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata as the capital of Magadh, ruled by the mighty King Jarasandha. Scholars and archaeologists have opined that the town of Rajgir is about 3000 years old. Rajgir was in fact the ancient capital of the Magadh Mahajanpada (State) before the formation of Pataliputra in the 5th century, until King Ajatasatru moved to Pataliputra.

Rajgir in olden days was a true testimony of the co-existence of various forms of religious belief, like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In fact Rajgir and its surroundings was the budding grounds of both Buddhism and Jainism. The fact that Rajgir has played host to both Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira, has made this place important from historical, archaeological and religious point of view. Lord Mahavira spent 14 rainy seasons in Rajgir and before the attainment of his salvation at Pawapuri near Rajgir, he preached the necessity of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. Lord Buddha also spent many years in Rajgir. The Jivekarmavan monastery was the preferred residence of the Buddha. Even King Bimbisar gave Venuvan Vihar to Buddha for his residence. Buddhism records says that Buddha was here for a long time propagating his principles and doctrines of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration to end the suffering of life.

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Bimbisara gate at the entrance of Rajgir

Rajgir today, is an important and sacred religious destination for the followers of both Buddhism and Jainism. Buddhists and Jains from around the world visits Rajgir to witness the various remains of the life and teachings of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira. Apart from its importance as a religious destination, Rajgir is also a popular tourist destination and a health resort. The serene and picturesque surroundings, widespread greenery, a number of hot water spring with medicinal properties, several tourist sightseeing places and above all Bihar government’s sincere effort to develop it as a tourism hot spot has made Rajgir a popular and sought after tourist destination. Tourists from around the world visits Rajgir, the land of Buddhism and Jainism not only because of its religious importance but also because of its serene beauty.

What to see at Rajgir?

Rajgir is in itself a very scenic place to stroll around leisurely. But being a historic place associated with the life of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira, there are quite a large number of sites with archaeological remains in and around Rajgir which makes Rajgir tour a great option to explore. Some of the most important and popular destinations of Rajgir are only discussed below:

Vishwa Shanti Stupa

The greatest attraction of today’s Rajgir is undoubtedly the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (peace pagoda), built by the Government of Japan atop a 400 meter high hill, known as Gridhakuta or Vulture’s Peak. The all white marble stupa carries the very essence of the teaching of Lord Buddha, peace and non-violence.

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Lord Buddha in welcome mudra at Viswa Shanti Stupa

The Nipponzan-Myohoji Buddhist sect has long been instrumental in successfully spreading the teachings of Lord Buddha and his carve for world peace and harmony among people. This Buddhist sect, founded by a Buddhist monk, Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985), has built a series of Peace Pagodas in several cities of the world spreading across every continent and the majority of them is in India. All the Peace Pagoda’s has been designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace.

The Peace Pagoda or Japanese Pagoda or Vishwa Shanti Stupa of Rajgir is an excellent example of oriental style of architecture. The stupa houses four statues of Lord Buddha on the four side-corners of the stupa. The four statues on four corner-sides of stupa depict the four phases of life of Lord Buddha. These statues are made of gold. These statues depicting, birth, enlightenment, teaching and passing away of Lord Buddha are symbolical of Lord Buddha’s teachings and transient life.

Gridhakuta, the place where Vishwa Shanti Stupa has been built is believed to be the favourite meditating place of Lord Buddha. It is at this place that he spent most of his summers and delivered many of his sermons. Lord Buddha even converted the great Mauryan king Bimbisara to adopt Buddhism at this sacred place.

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Chairlift rope-way to reach Vishwa Shanti Stupa at Rajgir

All this and many more, has made the Peace pagoda at Gridhakuta, the most popular sightseeing destination of Rajgir and the most sacred pilgrimage destination for the followers of Buddha and Buddhism. The added attraction of Vishwa Shanti Stupa is the ropeway that makes your ascent to the top of the Gridhakuta or Vulture’s peak easy and memorable one. Though there is a bridle path of about 600 stone steps leading to the Peace Pagoda, but people enjoy taking the Aerial Chairlift which passes over the beautiful scenic of the Rajgir hills. To have a virtual experience about the Rajgir chairlift rope-way visit the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNbChTmaRww

Veerayatan

Though Veerayatan is basically a Jain museum rich in historical heritage, but the sprawling 40 acre campus is a popular tourist attraction. One must not miss out this sightseeing spot during Rajgir tour. The campus houses a museum where one will find various important incidents of Jainism being showcased, a Jain Temple, an eye hospital, an orthopedic center and the social reformation centre which is the most notable attractions established during the early 1973.

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Murals at Veerayatan in Rajgir

Several hand-designed murals honoring the themes of non-violence, love and the unity of humanity taken from the life of Jain Tirthankaras at the Shri Brahmi Kala Mandiram of Veeratayan has been a major attraction for tourists.

Venuvan

This is another place in Rajgir which is closely associated with the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. Literally meaning bamboo grove, Venuvan was a charming garden or grove surrounded by Bamboo clumps which was presented to Lord Buddha by King Bimbasara after the king adopted Buddhism. It is said that during three the rainy season Buddha stayed and a very large part of his sermons was delivered there.

King Bimbasara built a big monastery (Venuvan Vihar) along with a pond named “Kalandak Nivajo” (Karand Tank) for bath there. The Buddhist Monastery, Venuvan vihar in Venuvan was in fact also the first Buddhist Monastery ever. Southern side to the park was monastery site and Northern was the place for Buddha preaching. The original monastery is yet to be excavated due to a dispute, and only the pond remains of the earliest features. A newly built Venuvan Vihar monastery facing the historical site of ancient Venuvan Vihar commemorates the ancient glory of the first Buddhist monastery. The new Venuvan Vihar ws inaugurated by the former President of India, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy on 24th October 1981. This new monastery has been architecturally designed by Buddhist artist Upendra Maharathi.

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Newly built Venuvan Vihara monastery

This place is now a beautiful garden with many colorful flowers. The foundation of a room and bases of nine stupas of bricks were found during excavation. There is a huge mound in the south of it which is 776 ft in circumference and 27 ft in height. This mound is surrounded by ancient underground shrines. On the eastern side of the mound, tablets of 10th – 11th century have been found along with many traces of foundation.

Hot Springs

There are a number of hot springs in Rajgir which are an added attraction for tourist. The most popular of the hot springs is the one at the foot of Vaibhara hills. Rajgir tour is incomplete without taking a dip into the kund formed by this hot water springs. The water of the springs comes as seven different streams (called Saptadhara) through spouts. The source of the water of the hot spring is believed to be in the Saptaparni Caves high in the hills. The Brahmakund spring is the hottest of the springs and has a temperature of around 45 degree Celsius. Taking a bath in this hot spring is considered sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists.

Located at the centre of the Rajgir town, the Brahmakund hot spring can be reached by means of a staircase. There are separate bathing places for men and women. The water is believed to have curative properties and a bath in the water of the hot spring will make you feel rejuvenated and revitalized.

Saptaparni Cave

This is another place in Rajgir having close association with Buddhism. The saptaparni caves hosted the First Buddhist Council after the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha. The council was held under the guidance of Maha Kassapa after 6 months of Buddha’s death and his teachings were written down for the first time. Early Buddhist monks used the cave as resting places as well as centers of debates and discussions on the teachings and life of Lord Buddha. The Saptparni cave is also the source of the Rajgir Hot Water Springs.

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Cyclopean wall surrounding Rajgir

Cyclopean Wall

This 2500 year old stone wall is another major attraction for tourists, historians and archaeologists alike. Built of massive undressed stone carefully fitted together, the wall once encircled the entire Rajgir town. Though only portions of the wall remains today but it speaks highly of the architectural uniqueness of the era. Once 40 Km long and 4 meteres wide with fortification running around the city, the cyclopean wall is one of the few important Pre-Maurayan stone structures ever to have been found. Traces of wall still subsist, particularly at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya.

Apart from those described above, there are quite a few other tourist attraction in Rajgir, like the Pippala cave (popularly known as “Jarasandh ki Baithak”), Jarasandha Ka Akhara, Jivakameavan Gardens, Ajatashatru Fort, Sonbhandar Caves, Bimbisar jail, Chariot Route Marks, Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Makhdum Kund and the 26 Jain temples situated in the hill crests around Rajgir that are difficult to approach.

Two other destinations around Rajgir that are a must visit sight in Rajgir tour are, Nalanda and Pawapuri. To know in details about Nalanda tour and Pawapuri, click at: Tour of Nalanda – journey to history.

How to reach Rajgir?

By Air

Rajgir does not have its own airport. The Bodhgaya Airport at Gaya at a distance of about 69 Km is the nearest airport of Rajgir. Regular flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Varanasi, Mumbai connects the Gaya airport near Rajgir. Not only that, regular international flights from Paro, Kathmandu, Colombo, Yangon and Bangkok are available to reach Rajgir via Gaya airport. From the airport a private vehicle will charge anywhere between Rs 800 to 1500 depending upon the type of vehicle, to take you to Rajgir.

However one can also opt for the Jaiprakash Narayan Airport of Patna at a distance of about 100 Km, to reach Rajgir. The Patna airport is well connected to airports at Kolkata, Mumbai, Delhi, Patna, Lucknow, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad, Indore and other. From the airport a private vehicle will charge anywhere between Rs 1000 to Rs 2000 to reach Rajgir, depending upon the type of vehicle.

By Rail

Though Rajgir has its own railway station but numbers of trains from important stations like Kolkata, New Delhi and Mumbai are limited. However, there a number of trains that runs regularly between Patna and Rajgir. Bihar Sharif railway station at a distance of about 23 Km, Bakhtiyarpur railway station at a distance of about 53 Km and Gaya railway station at a distance of about 90 Km are the other options available to a traveler wishing to reach Rajgir from any part of the country.

By Road

Excellent motor-able roads connect Rajgir with important places of the state, adjoining states and rest of the country. In recent years, at the behest of the present chief minister of Bihar, Mr. Nitish Kumar, roads which connect Rajgir with other important destination of the state have improved drastically.

Good motorable roads connect Rajgir with important places of the state and rest of the country. From Patna, the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) organises round trips to Rajgir. Air Conditioned and Non-Air Conditioned cars, mini deluxe coaches and deluxe coaches are also available. You can also hire cars or taxis from Patna to Rajgir on a day trip. Rajgir is very well connected by road to Patna – 110 Km, Nalanda – 12 Km, Gaya – 78 Km, Pawapuri – 38 Km, Bihar Sharif – 25 Km etc. Regular buses are available from all the above said points to Rajgir.

Where to stay during Rajgir tour?

Rajgir being an important tourist destination is not short of hotels. As large number of both foreign and domestic tourist visits Rajgir every year, there are quite a few hotels of international standard and large number of budgeted, yet descent hotels as well.

Undoubtedly, the three Tourist Bungalows maintained by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation are the best staying option during Rajgir tour. All three of them are havens of luxury, comfort and coziness in all respects, satisfying every possible desire of tourists. The three Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation hotels are:
Ajatshatru Vihar (Phone – 06112-255027).
Gautam Vihar (Phone – 06112-255273).
Tathagat Vihar (Phone – 06112-255176).
For booking any of the above Bihar Tourism hotels, one can avail the online booking facility. For online booking click HERE.

Hotel Centaur Hokke

This 4-Star, Japanese style hotel functioning as a joint venture of Hotel Corporation of India and the Centaur group is probably the best place to stay in Rajgir. Ideally epitomizing the influence of Buddhism on Indian and Japanese culture, Hotel Centaur Hokke is evocative of the Buddhist Stupas in Bihar. The hotel provides many exquisite facilities and the hospitality extended is outstanding.

With the interiors decorated in Japanese style, hotel Centaur Hokke offers luxurious accommodation in 26 elegantly-furnished rooms. 20 of the rooms are Japanese style rooms with an accommodation capacity of 68 people and 6 western style rooms accommodating 12 people.

To book this hotel one needs to contact at the phone numbers: 06112-255045 / 255037. Online booking facility for this hotel is still not available.

Rajgir Residency

This is another good staying option in Rajgir where the hotel building in itself presents an Exemplary Piece Of Architecture. Well appointed and well decorated rooms with the best of modern amenities of comfort and luxury, makes Rajgir Residency an ideal place to stay in Rajgir.

The hotel is just 10 minutes drive from ‘Gridhakuta Hill’. Ropeway to reach the Peace Pagoda is nearby. Adding to the excellence is the Korean, Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine available in the hotel. The Rajgir Residency offers single, double and suite rooms with up to date facilities expected of a modern day 3 star hotel.

To know more about the hotel and accommodation availability, contact at the hotel phone number: 91-8002026666 (mobile) / 91-6112255404 (landline). You can also avail the online booking facility by clicking HERE.

Siddharth Hotel

Situated at a distance of just 1.5 Km from Rajgir railway station and opposite of Venuvan, Hotel Siddharth is one of the best budgeted staying options of Rajgir. The hotel has 16 AC deluxe rooms and 16 non AC rooms. There is large parking space as well. The hotel also has its own restaurant which serves quality Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Continental cuisines.
To know more about the hotel and accommodation availability, contact at the hotel phone number: 91-6112-255216 / 255352, 91-9431069053. You can also avail the online booking facility by clicking HERE.

Other hotels of Rajgir that are also descent staying options includes:
Hotel Hill Queen, near Rajgir bus stand (Phone number – 06112-255637)
Hotel Tripti, near Naulakkha Mandir (Phone number – 06112-2200506, 9304260974, 9334661855).
Sharda Hotel, opposite Rajgir Thana (Phone number – 06112 – 255201/255637, 9835625527)
Hotel Devdoot, near bus stand, Rajgir (Phone number – 9135791392, 9835299401)
Hotel Rajgir, near Naulakkha Mandir (Phone number – 06112-255266, 9835860749)
Hotel Awkash, near main Bazaar of Rajgir (Phone number – 06112-255239, 979883564)
Hotel Kanak Vihar (Phone number – 9334619922, 9334229249)
Hotel Ratna-Giri, near bus stand,Rajgir (Phone number – 9931262928, 9934046872)
Hotel Basant Bihar, near bus stand, Rajgir (Phone number – 06112-320079, 9334113964)

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About the Author: Hi! friends, travelling is my passion and my only hobby. High mountains to deep seas, lush green forests to barren deserts, holy places to sites of historical importance, - every beautiful place attracts me the same way. I want everyone to feel the same and so through my writing I intend to take you all to a virtual trip to all those lovely places that I have visited.

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