Bihar’s many religious places
In our previous blog, we took you through some of Bihar’s timeless wonders that can’t help but mesmerize anyone visiting the state. A land popular as the birthplace for two major religions… Buddhism and Jainism, Bihar is home to some interesting religious destinations, making it an ideal getaway for those looking at embarking on a spiritual quest.
The seat of many religious reforms, here are some such sites that played a key role in the origin of these religions:
Bodh Gaya: Considered one of India’s most sacred sites, it was here that Gautham Siddhartha achieved nirvana or enlightenment under a Bodhi Tree. Known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Mahabodhi and Vajrasan in the past, Bodh Gaya is one of the four most sacred sites for Buddhists, others being Kushinagar, Lumbini and Sarnath.
Of the several temples here, the Mahbodhi Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage temple is the most important temple; its original founder believed to be Emperor Ashoka. The temple was later restored in the 11th or 12th century, with works on the temple suggesting Gupta Dynasty architectural style. Standing tall at 54 m, the temple is shaped like an extended spire with a miniature stupa; the spire adorned with several images of Buddha carved in its niches.
Gaya: Named after the mythological demon Gayasur, Gaya is considered one of India’s sacred places revered by Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims as well as Jains. Hindus believe in performing a ritual called the Pinda Daan here that can attain salvation for the soul of the deceased.
According to the Ramayana, Lord Ram and his consort Sita visited Gaya to perform a Pinda Daan when upset by the Falgu River, Sita cursed it, turning it today into the vast sand dunes seen here. It is said that she also blessed a banyan tree to be immortal, and this particular tree (Akshyavat), never sheds leaves, remaining green even during droughts.
A place known for many temples, the most prominent temples here Vishnupad Temple that houses the footprint of Lord Vishnu said to have remained after he subdued the demon Gayasur. A beautiful temple it is known for its intricate carvings on its pillar, its massive octagonal shrine and pyramid shaped tower standing tall at 100 feet. Some Buddhists believe the footstep at the temple belongs to Lord Buddha who is considered as avatar of Lord Vishnu. The place is considered sacred for Buddhists as it is believed that Lord Buddha meditated for six years here, also preaching a fire sermon to thousand fire worshiping ascetics enlightening them
Other important shrines here include the Mangla Gauri, Brahmayoni etc, with the Jama Masjid; Bihar’s largest mosque also being situated at the heart of this city.
Vaishali: Not just the birthplace of Lord Mahavir, the founder of Jainism, Vaishali is also believed to be the place Lord Buddha preached his last sermon. Some of the many sacred shrines here include the Buddha Stupa l that is said to contain one eighth of the sacred ashes of Lord Buddha. Buddha Stupa II was founded when excavations at this site also led to a casket believed to house the ashes of Lord Buddha and Vishwa ShantiStupa or the World Peace Stupa was built by the Japanese Buddhists in 1966. Other places of religious significance are Kundalpur that houses several images of Hindu Gods.
Rajgir: Ragjir is of importance for both Buddhists and Jains, as this was the place Buddha and Mahavira spend a considerable time of their lives meditating and preaching, later it was chosen to be the venue where the 1st Buddhist council was held. Attractions of religious significance here include the Jarashand ka Akhara, the place mentioned in the Mahabharatha where Bhima and Jarasandh fought, Venu Vana the monastery built by King Bimbisara for Lord Buddha, Karanda Tank is the tank wherein Buddha used to bathe. Rajgir is also the location for several Jain temples.
Deoghar: Also known as ‘House of the God’, Deoghar is a popular locale known for its health resort as well as Baidyanath Temple, one of the twelve Jyotirlingas in India. Other important temples here include the Naulakha Temple, Nav Durga Temple, Kundeshwari Temple, Pagalababa Temple, Satsang Ashram and Ramkrishna Mission Ashram.
Patna: Patna is famous for its several shrines that dot its landscape making it an important pilgrim destination.
Some of the important Hindu temples here include the Mahavir Mandir; a holy temple dedicated to Lord Hamuman, Patan Devi Temple, one of the 51 Siddha Shakti Pithas of India, Kali Mandir and Bira Mandir.
Patna is also revered by Sikh pilgrims for it is the birthplace of the 10th Sikh Guru: Guru Gobind Sigh, and it was visited by Guru Nanak as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur.Some of the famous Gurudwaras here include Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb, Gurdwara Pahila Bara, Gurudwara Gobind Ghat, Gurudwara Guru ka Bagh, Gurudwara Bal Leela and last but not the least Gurudwara Handi Sahib.
Patna is also home to several important mosques such as the Sher Shah Suri Masjid, Maner Sharif, Pathar Ki Masjid, Begu Hajjam’s Mosque, Bihar Sharif and Phulwari Sharif. While the Padri ki haveli and Old Church of Patna are important Christian pilgrim sites.
Pawapuri: Pawanpuri is one of the most important places in Jainism as it was here Lord Mahavira the founder of Jainism breathed his last and was cremated here. Of significance is Jalmandir, a major pilgrim centre for Jains and Samosharan, another well known Jain temple set up at the location Lord Mahavira delivered his final sermon.
Other important temples here include Mundesvari Temple, Aranya Devi Temple, Durga Temple, Hariharan Temple, Parasnath Temple, Chaubishi Jain Templ, Bari Patan Devi Temple, and many more.
A place where two great saints achieved enlightenment, Bihar and its wonderful places of worship make ideal destinations to those looking at embarking on a spiritual quest with these destinations known for their peace, quiet and serenity.