A major centre of Buddhist pilgrimage, Rajgir in Bihar is famous for being deeply associated with the life of the Buddha. It served as the ancient capital of the powerful Magadha Empire and was one of six main cities in ancient India. This can be gauged form Buddha’s disciple Ananda’s regret that his master should have died in either of the cities of Sravasti, Champa, Rajagraha, Saketa, Kausambi and Varanasi not in a small place like Kusinagar.
Places of attractions in Rajgir
Griddhakuta or Vulture’s Peak
The well-known Buddhist site of Griddhakuta Hill is deservedly an attraction in Rajgir not to be missed. During the rainy season the Buddha used to climb up to his mountain retreat atop the Griddhakuta Hill and deliver sermons to his disciples. He is said to have preached the Lotus sutra.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The brilliant shine of the Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), built on the top of the Ratnagiri Hill by the Buddha Sangha of Japan in 1965, is a feast for the eyes. Though you can reach the hill by following a bridle path, it would be an experience of a lifetime to use the aerial single-person chairlift which operates every day except Thursdays. A ride on the chairlift commands a panoramic view of the hills of Rajgir and some Jain temples dotting the landscape.
One of the famous attractions of Rajgir, Venuvana is the site of the Venuvana Vihar monastery where Gautama Buddha used to reside while he was in Rajgir. Venuvana Vihar, the pleasure garden of King Bimbisara was offered to Buddha. Bimbisara, the founder of Haryanka Dynasty of Magadha, was a devotee of Buddha. It was at Venuvana that Buddha delivered several discourses and Jataka stories besides formulating many Vinaya rules.
Amaravana or Jivaka’s Mango Garden
Amaravana marks the site where Jivaka’s dispensary was situated. It was at this dispensary where Gautama Buddha was treated by the famous physician Jivaka after being wounded by his envious cousin Devdatta. Jivaka adorned the courts of mighty Magadhan rulers Bimbisara and his son Ajatashatru as a royal physician.
Saptaparni Cave is the place where Buddha used to meditate. It is said to be the avenue for the First Buddhist Council, held six months after Buddha’s death.
The spot marks the site where King Bimbisara was imprisoned by his son Ajatashatru who later murdered his father.
For cultural cognoscenti, the annual Rajgir Mahotsava festival is a compelling attraction featuring three days of folk dances, classical Indian music and devotional songs in the month of November.
How to reach Rajgir
Air: The nearest airport to Rajgir is at Patna which is connected by flights to major cities in India.
Rail: Rajgir is well connected by rail with major places and cities in the country. From Delhi you can board the Sramjeevi Express train which will take you to Rajgir.
Road: Rajgir is connected by daily bus services with Patna, Nalanda, Biharsharif and Gaya.
Best time to visit Rajgir
In Rajgir temperatures in winters and summers are extreme. October to March is the best time to visit Rajgir. It is pertinent to mention that in the months of December and January, it can get very cold.