Best Places to visit in Rajgir, Tourist places in Rajgir
Rajgir is 10 km south of Nalanda and sacred to the memory of the founder of 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 delievered some of the famous sermons and converted king Bimbisara of the Magadha 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. An 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.
Details of tourist places to visit in Rajgir : –
Amaravana 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 Ajatshatru 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 Buddha.
Built by Ajatsatru (6th century B.C.), the king of Magadha during the Buddha’s time. The 6.5 sq. km. Ajatsatru’s Stupa is also believed to have been built by him. It is top in the list of tourist places to visit in Rajgir.
King Bimbisara was imprisoned here by his impatient son and heir, Ajatsatru. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration. For, from this spot, he could see Lord Buddha climbing up to the mountain 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. It is top in the list of tourist places to visit in Rajgir.
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.
The second chamber bears a few traces of seated and standing guards etched into the outer wall. It is top in the list of tourist places to visit in Rajgir.
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 Mauryan stone structure ever to have been for traces of the wall still subsist, particularly at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya. It is top in the list of tourist places to visit in Rajgir.
Griddhakuta 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 daily 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 Brahamakund with a temperature of 45C. It is top in the list of tourist places to visit in Rajgir.
Above the hot springs on the Vaibhava Hill, is a rectabgular 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.
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
Other archaeological sites including the Katnada Tank where Lord Buddha used to bathe, the Maniyar Nath that dates 1st Century AD, the Maraka Kukshi where the still unborn Ajatsatru was crushed as a patricide, the Rannbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh fought one of the Mahabharata battles. The chariot Route and shell inscription are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon, two parallel furrows cut deep into the rock for about thirty 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 st to the 5th century AD, are engraved in the rock around the chariot marks. Virayatan- a Jain temple and Museum.
Rajgir celebrates the Malamasa Mela when a fair is held here every three years. The Indian calendar every three years has a thirteenth month which is considered auspicious.
Another festival specific to Rajgir is the Makat Sankranti Mela, held on the last day of the lunar calendar month “Paus”, around middle of January. Devotees make flower offering to the deities of the temples at the Hot Springs and bathe in the holy water.
Arts and Crafts
The place around Rajgir are famous for stone sculptors and bowls.
Swarajpur – Baragaon
18 km. The lake with a temple of Surya, the Sun God, is a pilgrim destination twice a year in “Vaisakha” (April/May) and in “Kartika” (October-November) during the Chhath Puja or Sun Worship.
The Digamber sect of the Jains believed that Lord Mahavir was Born at Kundalpur, 18 km from Rajgir. A Jain temple and two lotus lakes- the Dirga Pushkarni and Pandava Pushkarni mark the spot.
35 km. A sinless city, it is a great pilgrimage centre of the Jains. Mahavira Teerthankara, the greatest profounder of Jainism had delivered his last sermon here, took Mahaprinirvana here and was cremated here. Jalamandir and Samosharan are two beautiful temples. It is among top tourist places to visit near Rajgir.
25 km. This little town on the top of a craggy rock, attracts thousands of pilgrims of all religion who visit the tomb of Makhdum Shah Sharif-ud-Din, a Muslim saint of 14th century. Bihar Sharif was once the capital of the Muslim Governors of Bihar between the 13th and 16th centuries when the city was an active cultural centre and an important seat of Muslim thought and learning.
10 km. where ruins of the great ancient universities have been excavated.
This university of Nalanda was founded in 5th century AD, this great seat of learning flourished until 12th century. Once 2000 teachers and 10,000 students crowded its portals. King after king built monasteries and temples here. It is among top tourist places to visit near Rajgir.
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