means 'house of the king', was the ancient capital city of the Magadha
kings until the 5th century BC when Ajatsatru moved the capital to
Pataliputra. Forty-six km from Bodhgaya, the town is sacred to the
memory of the founders of both Buddhism and Jainism and houses
historical remains like the cyclopean wall and marks engraved in
Rajgir is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since the Buddha spent
12 years here, and the first Buddhist council after the Buddha was
hosted here at the Saptaparni caves. Lord Buddha often went into
retreat at the Jivkamaravana monastery in a beautiful orchard. One of
his most devoted and prosperous devotees, surgeon Jivaka also lived
here. The rich merchant community here soon became the Buddha's
followers and built many structures of typical Buddhist architecture.
Lord Buddha converted the Mauryan king Bimbisara, one of his most
celebrated followers, to Buddhism at the Griddhakuta hill, where he
delivered many of his sermons as well. The Japanese have built a Stupa
on top of the Ratnagiri hill, linked by a rope way. It was here that
the teachings of Buddha were penned down for the first time. Rajgir is
also an important place of pilgrimage for the Hindus and Jains. Other
places to be visited are Bimbisara ka jail, Jarasandha ka akhara,
Venuvana, Karand tank, Maniyar math, Swamabhandar cave, Pippala cave,
Viswa Shanti Stupa, the famous hot water springs and ruins of an old
Location and History
The 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 10 kms. 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 use to meditate and preach on
Groddhkuta, the "Hill of the Vultures". Lord Mahavir spent 14 years of
his life at Rajgir and Nalanda.
It was in Rajgrih that Lord Buddha delivered some of his famous
sermons and converted king Bimbisara of the Magadh Kingdom and
countless others to his creed. Once a great city, Rajgir is just a
village today, but vestives 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 Mahabharat were being inacted.
Pilgrimage Attractions of 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 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 Saptadhara, 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
od 45 degree Celsius.
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 become the resort of pious hermits, it is
also called Pippala Cave and popularly known as "Jarasandha ki Baithak"
after the name of the King Jarasandha, a contemporary of Lord Krishna
described in the epic Mahabharat.
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.
Other Places of Attractions
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 Kushi where the still unborn Ajatshatru was cursed as a
patricide, the Rannbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandha fought one of the
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 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
Mahabharat times. Several shell inscriptions, 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.
Swarajpur - Baragaon
18 kms.the lake with its 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 sector of the Jains believe that Lord Mahavir was born at
Kundalpur, 18 kms. from Rajgir. A Jain temple and two lotus lakes -the
Dirga Pushkarni and Pandava Pushkarni mark the spot.
35 kms. 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.
25 kms. away, this little town on the top of a craggy rock, attracts
thousands of pilgrims of all religions who visit the tomb of Makhdum
Shah Sharif-ud-din, a Muslin saint of 14th century. Bihar Sharif was
once the capital of 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 kms. where ruins of the great ancient University have been
excavated. The 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.
Other Attractions of Rajgir
Rajgir celebrates the Malamasa Mela when a fair is held here every
three years. The Indian calendar every three years has a 13th month
which is considered auspicious.
Another festival specific to Rajgir is the Makar Sankranti Mela, held
on the last 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. "
How to Reach There
Air The nearest airport is Patna (107km)
Rail The nearest railhead on Delhi-Howrah main line is
Bhaktiyarpur, 54 kms., though the loop line connects Rajgir.
Road Rajgir is connected by road to Patna, Gaya and