BiharTimes: A Passage to Bihar
Bihar has a very long and famous history that placed Bihar at the very epicenter of India's struggle for Independence. It is a region that is rich in history, deep in tradition and culture and has a great potential. Bihar in the ancient times is known in the classical literature as Magadha.
Glory of Bihar
Tribute to Bihar
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (Source)
Bihar's antiquity is evident from its name, which is derived from the ancient word "VIHARA" (monastery). It is indeed a land of monasteries. Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim and Sikh shrines abound in this ancient land where India's first major empires rose and fell. Where the ruins of the worlds' earliest university slumbers in the void of time. The passage of Ganga, flowing wide and deep enrich the plains of Bihar before distributing in Bengal's deltoid zone.
Among all Indian states, Bihar is the one most intimately linked to the Buddha's life, resulting in a trail of pilgrimages which have come to be known as the Buddhist circuit. The Buddhist trail begins at the capital city, Patna, where a noteworthy museum contains a collection of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures as well as a terracotta urn said to contain the ashes of Lord Buddha.
The Khuda Baksh Oriental Library has rare Muslim manuscripts including some from the University of Cordoba in Spain. 40 km away, Vaishali, was the site for the second Buddhist Council is the presence of ruins testify. 90 km south of Patna is Nalanda which translates as the place that confers the lotus' (of spiritual knowledge). A monastic university flourished here from the 5th to the 11th century. It is said to have contained nine million books, with 2,000 teachers to impart knowledge to 10,000 students who came from all over the Buddhist world. Lord Buddha himself taught here and Hieun Tsang, the 7th century Chinese traveler, was a student. Ongoing excavations have uncovered temples, monasteries and lecture halls. Rajgir, ‘the royal palace', 12 km south, was the venue for the first Buddhist Council.
The Buddha spent five years at Rajgir after having attained enlightenment, and many of the remains at Rajgir commemorate various incidents related to life of Buddha, the hill of Gridhrakuta being perhaps the most important, as this is where the Buddha delivered most of his sermons. Bodhgaya is the spot where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, with the Mahabodhi Temple marking the precise location.
This landlocked state of Bihar is surrounded by Nepal, Bengal, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and comprises four cultural regions-Bhojpur, Mithila and Magadha and Chotanagpur. Rivers Kosi and Gandak from the north and Sone from the south join the Ganga. In the fertile plains, rice, sugarcane, oilseeds, gram, maize, jute, barley and wheat are cultivated.
Sonepur (mela) Fair
A traditional Fair that has remained pristine in its charm through the ages it is also the largest cattle fair in Asia.
Legend has it that two brothers, devotees of Lord Vishnu, one wily and the other honest, cast a spell upon each other making one an elephant and the other a crocodile. On a Kartik Purnima day, the honest elephant went to the confluence of the holy river Ganga and Gandak to bathe and was attacked by the wily crocodile. Lord Vishnu himself intervened and helped the good triumph over the evil. With Lord Vishnu's help the elephant prevailed upon the Crocodile.
Boats at the river banks, a large no. of elephants, camels, horses, cows, buffaloes, oxen, goats, dogs, cats & birds for sale, loosely robed sadhus (holy men), freshly washed animals, shops on the pavements overflowing with goods, swirling crowds in colourful dresses and joyful moods, curious onlookers-such are the scenes that dominate this wonderful fair.
A unique Fair in which imposing Indian elephants are the prime attraction. The central draw of the fair is cattle trade. All species of birds, poultry, bovines and beasts of burden specially elephants, have a market here.
The post-harvest season for paddy crops coincides with this fair. Sales are brisk in food grains, readymade garments, agricultural implements, weapons, furniture, perfumes, costume jewellery, handcrafted folk toys and utensils in wood, copper, brass and steel.
The fair entertains visitors with 'nautanki'- a typical traditional musical drama performance. Other attractions are the circus, magic shows, fortune-telling parrots, and pedlers of fancy goods.
The Sonepur Mela is indeed A Fair to Remember, year after year.
Fair Duration: A fortnight following the first full moon day in the Hindu month of Kartik Shukla Paksh (Kartik Purnima), which occurs in the period October/ November. Precise duration to be checked up every January.
How to reach: Sonepur is 25 kms across the river Ganga from Patna, the capital city of Bihar, which receives direct daily flights from Delhi and Calcutta, and is a major railway junction also linked by road to important towns on the Calcutta-Delhi route.
Where to stay: Fully furnished Swiss-type Cottages (with attached western toilets) in the Tourist village set up at the Sonepur Fair grounds, supported by catering and security facilities, and offering complimentary elephant ride.
For detailed information, accommodation and transport bookings please contact:
Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) Tourist Bhawan, Beer Chand Patel Path, Patna-800 001 Tel: 0612-2225411, 2210219. Fax: 0612-2236218
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