Vaishali attracts pilgrims who come here for a brush with divine. Buddha passed through Vaishali on his last journey and spent the last rainy season (Vassa) of life here. Vaishali played host to the Second Buddhist Council which was held 100 years after Buddha’s death. It was at this council that Buddhism was divided into Sthaviravadins and Mahasanghikas.
During Buddha’s time Vaishali was the capital of the tribal confederation of Vijjis. One of the six chief cities of India at that period, Vaishali was annexed by Magadhan ruler Ajatashatru, son of Bimbisara. Its prosperity has been vividly described in Lalitavistara, one of the earliest texts on Mahayana Buddhism.
Hailed as the world’s first republic, Vaishali is also known for its association with Ambapali, the beautiful courtesan, who is famous in the Buddhist legend. Her invitation for dinner was accepted by the Buddha. One of the most beautiful poems of the Pali canon is attributed to Ambapali who later became a Buddhist nun.
Places of interest in Vaishali
The mortal remains of the Buddha are enshrined in this 5th century AD stupa. A stupa is a mound commemorating the Buddha’s death. The exterior of the stupa is now in ruins.
A trip to Vaishali is incomplete without having a glimpse of the Ashokan Pillar at Kolhua. Built by the Greatest Mauyryan emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, the 18.3 m high pillar is a fine specimen of the Indian architecture and art in ancient times.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The Vishwa Shanti Stupa or World Peace Pagoda is the latest addition to the Buddhist monuments in Vaishali. Built by the Nipponzan Myohoji sect of Japan, the Stupa is located next to the Abhishek Pushkarini (Coronation Tank).
How to reach Vaishali
Air: Air: The nearest airport to Vaishali is at Patna that is connected by flights to major cities in India. Patna is 55 km from Vaishali.
Rail: Hajipur, 35 Km from Vaishali, is the nearest railhead that is well connected by rail with major places and cities in the country. From the Indian capital you can board Lichchavi Express, Sadhbhawna Express, Garib Nawaj Express, Vaishali Express, Shaheed Express which will take you to Hakipur from where you can find several means to travel to Vaishali.
Road: Vaishali is connected by daily bus services with several cities and places in Bihar including Patna.
Best time to visit Vaishali
The best time to visit Vaishali is during its winter season, which lasts from December through February.