Take a trip to Bihar this vacation. Although that state doesn’t offer much in the form of adventure, wildlife and many other tourism aspects, but its monasteries, temples and ancient monuments are quite enough to make your vacation a memorable experience. Beside, the friendly people of Bihar will surely impress you with their lively nature and warm hospitality.
History of Bihar
The state of Bihar boasts of a rich history, broadly it can be divided into Ancient, Medieval and Modern period.
Ancient Period: During the ancient times, Bihar was called Magadha. Pataliputra, now Patna, was the centre of the Mauryan Dynasty. Mauryans dominated the Indian subcontinent from 325 B.C to 185 B.C and Emperor Ashoka was their prominent ruler. For next one thousand years, Bihar remained an important center of power, culture and education. The Vikramshila and Nalanda Universities were among the best centers of education in ancient India but they were destroyed in the wars of the medieval period. From 185 B.C to 80 A.D, Bihar was ruled by Sunga Dynasty, from 80 A.D to 240 A.D by regional king, from 240 A.D to 640 A.D by Gupta Dynasty, from 600 A.D to 650 A.D by Harsha Vardhana and 750 A.D to 1200 A.D by Pala Dynasty.
Medieval Period: In the 12th century, Muhammed Bin Bakhtiyar Khilji a Pashtun and a General of Muhammed Ghori captured Bihar. From here, the decline of the intellectual and spiritual legacy of Bihar started and many of the Viharas along with Nalanda and Vikramshila Universities were demolished in this period. Next, Bihar saw a short period of glory for six years, during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who was a pasthun from Sasaram. Sher Shah Suri constructed the Grand Trunk Road, the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, which begins from Sonargaon in Bangladesh and ends in Peshawar in Pakistan. During 1557-1576, the Mughal emperor, Akbar, annexed the regions Bihar and Bengal to his empire. Further, with the decline of Mughal Dynasty, Bihar came under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal.
Modern Period: After the famous Battle of Buxar in 1765, the British East India Company obtained the Diwani rights for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From here onwards, Bihar remained a part of the Bengal Presidency of the British until 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a separate province. In the year 1935, some portions of Bihar were once again reorganized into the separate province of Orissa. In 2000, 18 administrative districts of Bihar state were separated to form the new state of Jharkhand.
Bihar- Tourist Destinations
Bihar has occupied a mentionable place in the tourist map of India and it houses a number of tourist destinations which attract both tourists as well as pilgrims. State capital, Patna itself is a popular tourist destination, besides, it is also an ideal base for visiting almost all the destinations of Bihar. Tourist Destinations in Bihar have been broadly divided into three distinct circuits namely – Tirthankar Circuit, Buddhist Circuit and Nirvana Circuit. Tirthankar Circuit includes the capital city Patna and important destinations such as Vaishali, Rajgir, Pawapuri and Deoghar. Buddhist Circuit consists of Patna, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Rajgir and Vaishali. Nirvana Circuit comprises Patna, Rajgir, Kushinagar, Bodhgaya, Muzaffarpur, Vaishali and Nalanda.
People & Culture of Bihar
People of Bihar are lively and friendly in nature. They heartily welcome the guests visiting the state. Bihar is inhabited by Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and people of the several other religions. Although the religious boundaries virtually separate the people of Bihar, but their way of living is quite common. Besides, the cultural links also connect the people of the state together.
From cultural aspect, Bihar consists of four main regions such as Bhojpur, Mithila, Magadha and Chotanagpur. Bihar has an age-old tradition of folk songs and dance forms that are presented during important occasions such as marriage ceremony, birth ceremony, fairs and festivals etc. During the Holi festival, people of the state sing lively Holi songs known as ‘Phaguna songs’, which are full of fun and enjoyment. Amongst the folk dance forms, some of the popular forms are Dhobi Nach, Gond Nach, Jhumar Nach, Manjhi Nach, Jitiya Nach, More Morni Nach, Gond Nach and Natua Nach.
Bihar is also known all over the world for its unique art forms like Manjusha Kala or Angika Art of Anga region, Madhubani Art of Mithila region and Patna Kalam of Magadh region. Theatre is another medium, through which the people of Bihar express their culture. Some noted forms of theatre include Bahura-Gorin, Bihula-Bisahari, Dom Kach, Raja Salhesh, Reshma-Chuharmal and Sama Chakeva.
Bihar - Cuisine
Most of the people in Bihar are vegetarian. However, a significant population of the state is traditionally meat eaters too. Rice, dal (lentils), roti (wheat-bread), vegetables and achar (pickles) are the staple food of Bihar. Apart from these, mutton, chicken and other type birds and fowls are also liked by the people of Bihar.
Some of the specialties of Bihar include Khichdi (a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices), Chitba, Pitthow, Tilba, Chuda, Litti, Makhana and Sattu.
Bihar is also home to a big Muslim population, so you will find the touch of ‘Islamic culture and food’ in the state. Famous Muslim delicacies are Bihari Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kofta, Shabdeg, Mutton Biryani, Yakhnee Biryani etc. In addition to these, you can also savour a wide variety of sweet delicacies in Bihar, such as Kala Jamun, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ka Lai, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kesaria Peda, Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Murabba, Tilkut, Pua and Mal Pua.
Fairs and Festivals of Bihar
People of Bihar celebrate several fairs and festival all through the year. Most of the fairs and festivals of the state have their link with a particular religion or region. Chhath, also called the Kartik Chhath- is a major festival in Bihar, celebrated every year around a week after Deepawali. Chhath is celebrated to worship the Sun God during which the ritual bathing take place twice, once in the evening and once in the morning, usually on the banks of rivers or a large water body.
Deepawali is another major festival of Bihar, which is celebrated to commemorate the return of Lord Rama after the battle with the demon king Ravana. Durga Puja or Dussehra is celebrated by the Hindus of Bihar. Holi, Teej and Chitragupta are other important festivals celebrated with pomp and gaiety by the people of Bihar. Bihula-Bishari Puja of Anga region is another popular festival. Apart from these, several other festivals are also celebrated in Bihar such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Azha, Muharram, Ram Navami, Raksha Bandhan, Maha Shivratari, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima etc.
An annual affair, Sharvani Mela is organized in the Hindu month of Shravan that is the lunar month of July – August. During the mela, pilgrims (kanwarias) wear saffron colour clothes and collect water from a sacred river bank (Ghat) at Sultanganj. Thereafter, they walk barefooted to Deoghar to bathe a sacred Shiva Linga.
The climate of Bihar is somehow tropical in nature. The summers are hot and humid while the winters are cold. November to January are winter months, when the weather remains mildly cold and temperature drops to a minimum of 5oC and 10oC. April to June are hot months and the temperature soars to a maximum of 45oC. Monsoon reaches the state in late June and remains till September.
Best Time to Visit
October to March is the best time to visit Bihar.
How to Reach
By Air: Bihar has three airports namely – Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport (Patna), Bhagalpur Airport and Gaya Airport. Patna airport is the main airport of the state, which is connected to Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Lucknow and Ranchi. Patna airport has been categorized as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya airport is a small international airport and it has flights from Colombo and Bangkok.
By Rail: Most of the towns in Bihar are well-connected by railway lines with the rest of the country. Patna, Bhagalpur, Barauni, Gaya and Katihar are the major railway stations of the state. These stations are connected by several mail and express trains with Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and important places of the country.
By Road: A vast network of National and State Highways interlink various places of Bihar and also connect the state with neighboring states and the rest of the country. The state capital, Patna has buses for almost all towns of Bihar. If you are coming to Bihar for Buddhist pilgrimage, the best option for you is to reach Patna first by air or train and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali.
Shopping in Bihar
Shopping is an important part of your trip to Bihar because the state offers a variety of items which you can take along as a souvenir. If you are a discerning shopper and aware about what to buy and where, then shopping in Bihar can be a delightful experience for you. In the state capital, Patna, there are a number of Government Emporia and private shops which offer local handicrafts, handloom products and other daily-usage products. Maurya Lok Complex, Hathua Market and Patna Market are some of the famous shopping centers in Patna. Along with the fixed shops, street-side vendors also offer excellent items at reasonable prices.
Bihar is known all over the world for the Madhubani School of painting which is extremely beautiful handicraft. A school of folk painting, Madhubani School is carried over by women from generation and generation. Madhubani paintings usually illustrate various mythological themes, bases on the images of local deities and Hindu gods and goddesses.