Sri Lanka and Cambodia to promote Theravada Buddhism – President


Sri Lanka and Cambodia should work together to spread the teachings of Theravada Buddhism throughout the world, President Maithripala Sirisena has said in Phnom Penh.

The President made these comments while attending a religious ceremony at Wat Langka Preah Kosomaram in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Saturday.

In order to achieve this objective measures will be taken to strengthen diplomatic relations between the two countries, he added.

Accordingly, the establishment of a Sri Lankan Mission in Cambodia will be expedited and two consuls will be appointed for both the countries to coordinate the activities, President Sirisena further said.

Buddhism is the historical foundation of the relations between Sri Lanka and Cambodia and while strengthening economic and trade relations, our two countries should work in unison towards the noble mission of preserving Theravada Buddhism, the President said.

The King, Prime Minister and the government of Cambodia have already pledged their support for this endeavor and the process will be taken forward with the assistance of Maha Sanga of the two countries. Discussions on the expansion of investment and trade activities between Sri Lanka and Cambodia have been successfully concluded said the President adding that an invitation was extended to the Cambodian Prime Minister to visit Sri Lanka at the earliest opportunity.

The President also participated in the veneration of sacred relics brought to Cambodia at the request of the Chief Incumbent of Lanka Preah Kosomaram, the Most Venerable Samdech Preah Maha Ariyavamsa Dr. Sao Chanthol, who had requested the President for a sprout of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree and sacred relics of the Buddha to be venerated by the Cambodian people.

On the advice of the Most Venerable Omalpe Sobhitha Thero, steps were taken to bring sacred relics that reposed at the Sri Bodhiraja Dharmayathanaya temple in Embilipitiya and a sprout of the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi to Cambodia in coordination with the visit of the President.

The President observed religious rituals at Lanka Preah Kosomaram temple and paid floral tribute to the sacred relics. The Maha Sanga in Cambodia, the Deputy Prime Minister Samdech Chaufea Veang Kong Som OI and a large number of clergy and laity attended this event.

Walking the Path of the Buddha in a Neglected Corner of India


Buddhism was born under a giant fig tree, which, today, grows at the center of the remote and unbeautiful town of Bodh Gaya, in India’s destitute northeastern state of Bihar. The tree is about three crooked blocks from the Be Happy Café and a few minutes’ walk from a used book store where a middle-aged Krishna devotee from Iowa, named James, works, reselling old paperbacks by Hesse and Murakami.

The sacred Bodhi Tree is surrounded by a wall and guarded by police. (Islamic extremists bombed the site in 2013.) At dawn, before pilgrims begin their daily perambulations around the tree’s massive trunk, local children forage under its sprawling canopy—some branches are propped up by iron columns—to gather fallen leaves. Pressed inside clear plastic, the leaves are sold to visitors from Bhutan, Myanmar, and Manhattan, and to outposts of Buddhism around the world. The historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, a reputed prince from what is now Nepal, is said to have achieved nirvana while meditating under the tree, in the fifth century B.C. The Awakened One purportedly spent seven weeks under under the Bodhi Tree after achieving liberation from the wheel of suffering that binds humankind to selfhood, aging, disease, and death. So Deepak Anand told me.

Last winter, I met Anand not in the Be Happy Café but at one of its competitors, the Tibet Om Cafe. The menu offered a staple comfort food of Western spiritual seekers in Asia: banana pancakes. Anand, who was forty-five, didn’t eat. He was tall, pin-thin, had a shaved head, and was so intense and talkative that he ordered a cup of tea but forgot to drink it. Anand is a self-taught cultural geographer. For the past twelve years, he has analyzed historical texts and used G.P.S. technology to chart what he says are the pathways walked by the Buddha as he spread his philosophy of mindfulness across northern India, about twenty-four hundred years ago. Anand hopes to promote this spiritual legacy by reviving a network of “Buddha trails” for pilgrims and tourists to walk in Bihar, the cradle of the world’s fourth-largest religion. Yet Buddhism largely vanished from the region centuries ago, eclipsed by Hinduism and Islam. Today, farmers plow up stone effigies without realizing that the sculptures are antique representations of the sage. “People long ago tore down the stupas and built their homes using the old bricks and stones,” Anand said, referring to Buddhist monuments that once dotted the Ganges River plains. “They simply didn’t know.”

To test his ideas, Anand suggested we hike from the Tree of Enlightenment, in Bodh Gaya, to the ruins of the Nalanda university—an important center of Buddhist learning, which was razed by Turkic invaders in the twelfth century. The four-day trek effectively spans Buddhism’s rise and fall in the subcontinent—many scholars believe the university’s destruction contributed to the religion’s decline. No one in recent times, Anand assured me, had retraced the Buddha’s footsteps along the fifty-mile route.

The Buddha’s only concession to hiking kit was a begging bowl. He sometimes strode through the villages of Bihar with a large crowd of followers in tow. Our own walking party numbered four: the Bangalore-based journalist Bhavita Bhatia carried a Free Tibet flag in her rucksack; Siddharth Agarwal, a river conservationist from Kolkata, lugged a leaden hardback copy of “Ganges: The Many Pasts of an Indian River”; I packed the electronics needed to transmit stories from the trail. Only Anand practiced Buddhist non-attachment. All he brought was a light sweater. “Sorry, sorry, sorry,” he said, when we caught up with him on the trail, after he repeatedly surged ahead. “I’m a high-energy person.”

In the Buddha’s day, northern India’s religious landscape was in a time of spiritual crisis and social upheaval. Disillusioned, rudderless, Siddhartha renounced his gilded life—a childhood with thirty-two nursemaids, a kingdom with seasonal palaces and private gardens, and his princess wife and their child—to join other ascetics meditating in forests along the Neranjara River.

Today, plastic trash spangles the river’s sandy banks. Miles of rice fields steam where giant trees once threw blue shadows. “British records reported a leopard at the train station as late as the nineteen-thirties,” Anand said, wistfully. “It’s all gone.”

A carload of sightseeing Malaysian monks stopped to ask us directions. They ended up debating Anand about the location of Ratnagiri Rock, the site sometimes identified as the place where Siddhartha finally abandoned the hermit life, broke his fast with a bowl of gruel, and invented a “middle way” to transcendence that rejects both extreme sensuality and extreme austerity. Anand informed the monks that he had geotagged the exact coördinates of Siddhartha’s epiphany. The monks smiled in polite silence. “There are so many sects in Buddhism,” Anand said. “It’s impossible to convince them all.” We walked on. We passed the mountain cave where Siddhartha was said to have mortified himself for six years, by some accounts sleeping on a bed of spikes. And, after that pilgrimage stop, Bihar became just Bihar.

Chronically listed as one of India’s poorest states, Bihar isn’t usually associated with spiritual revival. Its news cycle instead tallies droughts, floods, fatal encephalitis outbreaks, and the violent aftershocks of a failed Maoist insurgency.

Following Anand, we plodded through abandoned sand mines. We stepped over railroad tracks. Inert villages slipped by, hollowed out by urban migration. In granaries, families hand-cranked large mechanical fans to generate a breeze for threshing their harvest. The Biharis, though, are ritually kind. They offer a cup of well water, a spot of shade, a narcotic betel nut to chew on the way. A day’s walk from the global tourist bubble of Bodh Gaya, where lamas broadcast meditation tips on YouTube, the world grows so insular that young village boys, peering up at me, exclaimed, “Look at that face! Have you ever seen a face like that?”

“What our people and the government don’t realize,” Anand told us, in frustration, “is that they are living on top of a global treasure—inside a living museum.”

Anand isn’t Buddhist. He was a Hindu by birth and is an empiricist by nature. Mostly, he is a proud Bihari.

The middle-class son of a military father and a housewife mother, Anand studied engineering and hoped to become a fighter pilot. But his curiosity kept drawing him to the mounds of Nalanda. The grassy hillocks are rubble from the powerful Magadha empire, whose kings funded the world’s first Buddhist monasteries, more than two millennia ago. Anand began poring through early travellers’ accounts of his homeland’s largely forgotten past. His hero is Xuanzang, an adventurous Chinese monk who travelled to India, in the seventh century, to study the roots of Buddhism. Working as a pilgrimage interpreter and cultural consultant, Anand became an unlikely Buddhologist. An entry on his blog, announcing his purported discovery of Ratnagiri Rock, and citing a fifth-century Chinese monk named Faxian, contains paragraphs like this:

Anand has compiled hundreds of such waypoints in his Buddha-trail database. He is a keen admirer of his predecessors, the nineteenth-century British archeologists whose excavations proved that Buddhism was a South Asian idea. (Earlier scholars had maintained, based on curly-headed statues, that the Buddha was Ethiopian.) “The British were colonizers,” Anand said, “but they gave India the Buddha.”

“And they took everything they found away to London,” Agarwal, the river conservationist, said.

When we walked into a village called Lohjara, every household seemed to wave at Anand. He was hailed for pressuring the local police into investigating the theft of the village’s stone Buddha. The weathered statue, contemplating eternity in the lotus position, had been sitting in a local field for generations. In 2014, art thieves hefted the heavy sculpture into a car trunk and made off into the night. Two years later, acting on a tip, officers raided a nearby warehouse and found the Buddha packed for export. “We felt very bad those two years,” Rattan Pandey, a village elder, recalled. “We protested to the authorities to recover it immediately. We even blocked the roads.”

The restored Buddha was anchored with steel hoops beneath a village tree. The statue’s face was hacked off centuries ago, possibly by a Turkic soldier. Pandey worshipped the figure as Nakti Shiva, or Noseless Shiva, a mutilated version of the Hindu god.

We climbed the Jethian valley, plucking tart berries from jujube trees. According to the explorer-monk Xuanzan, a local man had tried to measure the Buddha’s height when he visited the place, but gauging the immense soul by any earthly means had proved impossible. In frustration, the skeptic had thrown down his bamboo yardstick—which sprouted to green life. Canebrakes still feathered Jethian’s high ravines. There were also faded village posters advertising Anand’s first effort at resuscitating the sacred landscapes of Bihar—a pilgrim’s walk organized with a charity from California.

A remote mountain road patrolled by rhesus monkeys led us to Rajgir, the former capital of the Magadha empire. The area was a bewildering Venn diagram of India’s singular spiritual history: Jain caves, Hindu temples, Muslim shrines, Ashokan stupas. Anand was well-known here, too. At Vulture’s Peak, a shrine where the Buddha taught his Heart Sutra—“Form is only emptiness, emptiness only form”—a crowd of touts, stevedores, rickshaw drivers, and cold-drink venders ringed Anand. They complained about being bullied by a pilgrimage mafia. He advised them to unionize.

On day four, we limped into Nalanda under clouds the color of polished lead. Anand showed us around. At its peak, Nalanda, in central Bihar, was the largest center of Buddhist learning in the world. It housed as many as ten thousand student monks. They argued about Buddhist doctrine and studied cosmology, astronomy, and art. Scores of villages nearby were dedicated to feeding resident scholars. Nalanda’s graduates helped carry Buddhism to Tibet and points along the Silk Road. “They used big mirrors to reflect light onto the Buddha statues inside temples,” Anand said, highlighting the monastic center’s architectural wonders.

But the manicured ruins felt comatose. Bhatia, the journalist, unfurled her colorful Tibetan pennant—the only touch of color on Nalanda’s barren squares.

How Buddhism ghosted away from its Indian source, between seven and nine centuries ago, remains one of the great mysteries in the history of religion. The Hindu nationalists now in power in New Delhi take an official stance: they insist that Muslim hordes from Central Asia—first Turkic invaders and later the Mughals—wiped out the pacifist Buddhists at sword-point. The general who razed Nalanda, Bakhtiyar Khalji, couldn’t even read the millions of Buddhist manuscripts he torched. But other scholars, Anand included, believe the reality is more complex. For centuries, Buddhism’s influence was waning in India. The monasteries created a brain drain, sapping innovation. The monks grew isolated from the people. Hinduism and Islam attracted more followers. It was as if Buddhism evanesced the same way that its master teacher did. The Buddha reputedly died, at age eighty, near what is today Kushinagar, in Uttar Pradesh. His ashes were taken from the scene of his life and scattered far across the Buddhist world.

According to some scriptures, the Buddha spent a week “walking a long way up and down in joy and ease” after attaining enlightenment. Our own little walking party sputtered to an end at the Nalanda bus stop. Bhatia left for Sikkim. Anand returned to his base, at Bodh Gaya. Only Agarwal and I slogged on—toward the Brahmaputra River. A dense ground fog hugged the fields, making navigation difficult. We stumbled along sodden canal trails. Crows appeared and vanished in the white. Anand had asked, before we parted, for endurance-walking advice. I’d forgotten to tell him that, on any long walk, he will get lost. And that being a little lost isn’t bad. It helps you stay awake. And being found is overrated.

Saigon pagoda decorated with thousands of plates


Belonging to the Linji school, a branch of Zen Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Giac Lam Pagoda in Lac Long Quan Street, Tan Binh District, is also known as Cam Son or Cam Dem Pagoda.

The pagoda has a total area of nearly 29,000 square meters and is located on a high mound. Its architecture is distinctly southern. There was no gate for the pagoda until a three-part entrance was built in 1955.

The pagoda consists of three interconnected horizontal blocks: the main hall, the lecture hall and the dining hall. After three major restorations, the pagoda has some additional features including the tower, stupa and lecture hall.

The pagoda’s old tiled roof is different from most pagodas in southern Vietnam. It consists of four flanges in which the tiles are lined up neatly. This style is different from the blade tile structure in the northern region.

On top of the roof is the familiar dragon, a mythical creature of great importance in Vietnamese traditions and beliefs.

The main hall still retains its ancient style and ambience with two wings and four pillars. It is deep and spacious. There are 56 large wooden columns, each elaborately engraved with parallel sentences and painted in gold.

In the center of the main hall are the statues of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas on the Three Jewels altar. Most of the statues are made of wood, and are hundreds of years old.

Surrounding the pagoda are 113 ancient statues, all wooden, except for seven cast in bronze. The statues are of Buddha Amitabha, Shakyamuni Buddha, Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha and other bodhisattvas sculpted by artisans in Binh Duong Province in early 19th century.

The most distinctive feature of the pagoda is that its ceiling is paved with more than 6,000 decorative plates.

Next to the main hall, the Hong Hung Tower also has more than 1,000 decorative plates. Other towers around the pagoda mark the graves of its abbots.

The decorative plates are made of ceramic in the kiln at Lai Thieu Ward of Thuan An Town, Binh Duong Province. Some are from China and Japan. The decorative plates were added to the wall of the pagoda in the first half of the 20th century.

With more than 7,000 decorative plates, Giac Lam Pagoda holds the record of being the pagoda with the biggest number of decorative plates in Vietnam.

In front of the pagoda is the 7-story hexagon Stupa. The tower’s construction was begun in the 1970s, but was suspended until 1993.

The pagoda’s garden is filled with many trees, shrines and Buddha statues. Most prominent is the ancient bodhi tree brought from Sri Lanka in 1953.

Giac Lam Pagoda is one of the oldest pagodas in Saigon. It was recognized a national historical-cultural relic in 1988 and is a major tourist attraction now.

Every Blooming Thing: Everyone needs a ‘tranquil spot’ in their garden


Everyone has an area in their yard that could be called a “trouble spot”. Too much sun or too shady, on a hill, bad soil, too rocky, etc. The list goes on. We had some of these problems, as we had just moved into a new home along the river and were putting in a yard where there had never been one before. Our problem was a corner of the yard with four large sycamore trees and a valley oak all on a small rocky knoll with plenty of shade. Here’s how we dealt with it.

The time was about 16 years ago. The place, Eureka at a large garden center. As we were looking around, suddenly my husband said that he had found what we needed for the trouble spot in our yard and pointed to a Buddha statue. The price was not insignificant. He has such a “stony” look I argued. My husband informed me that Buddha was meditating. My question then was how will we get him home. My husband said that he would ride in the back seat of course. And that is what our Buddha did. He rode in the back seat with his seat belt on and a tranquil look on his “stony” face. He was much more tranquil than me, because I do not like the curvy, twisty road from the coast.

But wait, there was another problem when we got home. Not knowing anything about a garden Buddha, I did some research and found that he should never be placed directly on the ground. A search for a pedestal was needed. Thankfully we found one without too much trouble, and our garden Buddha was put in his forever spot facing toward our house. This is placement protocol and is said to bestow great abundance on the home. I also discovered, for some mysterious reason, you should never buy a Buddha for yourself. As my husband bought this one for me, we are okay.

There was more information I discovered all those years ago. The different poses of the Buddha have different meanings. There are over 100 poses illustrating the life of Buddha. Ours happens to be a garden meditating Buddha. He represents concentration, so his eyes are closed, he is seated with both hands in his lap and his legs are crossed. He depicts tranquility and serenity. The meditation pose was used by Buddha under the legendary Bodhi tree, wherever that is.

The story is that Buddha (meaning the Awakened One) was a real person, born about 500 years B.C. in what is now modern day Nepal. His name was Siddhartha Gautama. He abandoned his privileged life to become a monk and was said to have attained nirvana (freedom from suffering) through his meditation. Buddha was merely an enlightened man not a god. Statues of Buddha are only peaceful icons, works of art and have no significance other than a decorative piece.

Every morning, as I have for years, I look out my window and see our Buddha statue who is concentrating, meditating and peaceful and know that all is good in our tranquil garden.

Red Bluff Garden Club meets the last Tuesday of the month at 12:30 p.m. (no meeting in July), at the Methodist Church 525 David Ave., Red Bluff, visitors are welcome.

Buddhist Tourist Destination

Vaishali: Vaishali was one of the earliest republics in the world (6th century BC).It was here that Buddha preached his last sermon. Vaishali, birthplace of Lord Mahavira is also Sacred to Jains.

Patna: Patna once called Patliputra the capital of Bihar, is among the world’s oldest capital cities with unbroken history of many centuries as imperial metropolis of the Mauryas and Guptas imperial dynasties.

Rajgir: Rajgir, 19 kms from Nalanda, was the ancient capital of Magadha Empire. Lord Buddha often visited the monastery here to meditate and to preach. Rajgir is also a place sacred to the Jains, Since Lord Mahavira spent many years here.

Pawapuri: In Pawapuri, or Apapuri, 38 kilometres from Rajgir and 90 kilometres from Patna, all sins end for a devout Jain. Lord Mahavira, the final tirthankar and founder of Jainism, breathed his last at this place.

Bodhgaya: Near the holy city of Gaya, the Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree that had sheltered him came to be known as the Bodhi tree and the place Bodhgaya. Today Bodhgaya, an important place of pilgrimage, has a number of monasteries, some of them established by Buddhists of Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc.

Nalanda: A great centre of Buddhist learning, Nalanda came into prominence around the 5th century BC and was a flourishing university town with over ten thousand scholars and an extensive library.

Kesaria: This Stupa is in fact one of the many memorable stupa remarkable event in the life of Buddha. Kesaria has a lofty brick mound capped by a solid brick tower of considerable size, which it self is the remain of a Buddhist Stupa. The mound is a ruin with a diameter of 68 feet at its base and a total height of 5½ ft. originally it was crowned by a pinnacle which must have stood 80 or 90 ft above the ground. General Cunningham dated this monument to AD 200 to 700, and held that it was built upon the ruins of a much older and larger Stupa.

It is the highest Stupa found in the country with a height of about 104” from the base.

Buddhism in Bihar

Bihar as a state
Bihar is a state of the Indian union situated in the eastern part of the country. With its capital at Patna (ancient Patliputra, the capital of ancient India), Bihar was once the most developed region of the ancient India. Ruled by the great Mauryans and the Guptas, Bihar is also the land of the famous diplomat Chanakya, the author of ‘The Arthashatra’ (literally ‘the Science of Material Gain’ in Sanskrit). But, today this land of Karna (of Mahabharata) Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Gobind Singh and Ashoka, is unfortunately one of the most under-developed states of India.

Irrigated by the holy Ganges, Bihar is pre-dominantly an agricultural land, which is a sufferer in the hands of political anarchy prevailing in the state, but it still has a lot to offer to its tourists.

Significance of Buddhism in Bihar
The term ‘Bihar’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘Vihara’, which means abode and it itself explains the relation of Bihar with the viharas, used as the Buddhist abode. The land of Bihar is considered to be the richest one in context of Buddhism as it showered the divine light of enlightenment on a young ascetic, Siddhartha Gautama, who had denounced all the luxuries of life in search of the truth. The Tathagata preached many of His sermons in different places of Bihar like Vaishali and Rajgir or Rajgriha to name a few. Even after His Mahaprinirvana, His disciples carried on the doctrine of Buddhism in the regions of Magadha or Bihar by setting up several monasteries and universities of Nalanda and much later, at Vikramshila. However, the contribution of the Indian emperor Ashoka(whose capital was at Patliputra, modern Patna) in the history of Buddhism cannot be ignored as it was he, who after becoming a Buddhist, patronised Buddhism as his state religion and spread its doctrine, Dhamma in different parts of India and abroad as far as Sri Lanka, Greece and Egypt.

Major Buddhist Places in Bihar

    *  Bodhgaya  : Bodh Gaya is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Bihar. It was at Bodh Gaya, where a young ascetic, Siddhartha Gautama in His search of the reality of life, meditated under a Peepal tree, attained enlightenment and became the Buddha or the Tathagata. Today, Bodh Gaya, a home to Maha Bodhi temple, Maha Bodhi tree and numerous monasteries, is a venerated place among the Buddhists from all the corners of the world, who visit the place to mark the enlightenment of the Buddha.

    * Nalanda : ‘Nalanda’, which means the place that confers the lotus, emerged as an important Buddhist university and religious centres in the 4th-5th century CE. The scholars of the Nalanda monastic university such as Bodhidharma and others took Buddhism to other parts of the world, China, Korea and Japan to name a few. Though in ruins today, Nalanda is an inseparable part of the state and its history.

    * Vaishali : Located in Bihar near Patna, Vaishali was the first place visited by Siddhartha Gautama in India, when he left home as an ascetic. Once again, it was at Vaishali, where the Tathagata had announced His soon to arrive death or Mahaparinirvana. Vaishali, a place jeweled with stupas(One contain Buddha’s relics), monasteries and temples, is frequently visited by the Buddhists, Jains(for birthplace of Mahavira) and other tourists.

    * Rajgir : Siddhartha Gautama had once visited Rajgir(Rajgriha) during His search for an enduring truth and again returned back at this place as the Buddha, this time to spend some years over here. It is believed that two rock cut caves at Rajgir were the favourite retreats of the Tathagata and He preached two of His sermons here. The small city of Rajgir with its numerous attractions such as Vaibhav hill, Ajatshatru’s fort and Swarna Bhandar among many others, is a holy place for the Hindus and Jains as well.

Major Buddhist Monuments in Bihar

    * Maha Bodhi Temple : A world heritage centre declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO), the Maha Bodhi complex in Bodh Gaya homes an ancient temple of the Buddha, built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Pampered with a superb and magnificent architecture, the temple houses a 150 feet high tower, which further contains a gilded colossal image of the Buddha in the ‘bhumisparsha mudra’ or touching the ground pose.

    * Maha Bodhi Tree : The Maha Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya is the most revered place for all the Buddhists as it was under one of the predecessors of this ficus(peepal) tree where a young man, to fulfill His thirst of the truth, meditated and achieved the divine light of enlightenment. The 160 years old Maha Bodhi tree, fifth generation plant of the original one, stands as high as 80 feet, and a major centre of pilgrim for the Buddhists from all over the world.

    * Nalanda Monasic University : The Nalanda monastic university in Nalanda, though in ruins today, was once one of the most famous learning centres of the world. Established during 4th-5th century CE, the Nalanda university was destroyed by the Islamic invaders in the 12th-13th century CE, and is now under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India.

    * Vikramshila University : The remains of the Vikramshila university near Bhagalpur(50 kilometers) is a major Buddhist attraction of Bihar. Built during 8th century CE by Dharampala, the Vikramshila learning centre flourished as a centre for Tantric Buddhism or Tantrayana.

Other Major Attractions

  • Patna : The state capital of Bihar, Patna is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges or the Ganga. Earlier known as Patliputra, Patna is not only a major gateway to all the Buddhist destinations in Bihar, but at the same time, the city in itself has always been a major historical, cultural and political centre of the state. A home to several monuments like GolGhar, Sadakat Ashram and Harmandirji, and several museums such as that of Kumhrar, Patna was also visited by the Buddha while crossing the river Ganga.
  • Bhagalpur : Famous as the ‘silk City’, Bhagalpur is one of the major cities of Bihar. The historic place of Bhagalpur was once a part of the 16 Mahajanpadas or the republics, but then was known as Anga. Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga, Bhagalpur today is the district administrative centre as well as an agricultural market. The city is also famous for the remains of the ancient Buddhist monasteries along with its silk, fabric weaving and sugar milling.
  • Gaya : A home to Bodh Gaya(8 kilometers), the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment, Gaya in Bihar is sacred for the Hindus as well, who visit the famous ‘Vishnupad temple’, where the God Vishnu is bekieved to have preached the reality of death. The city is also famous for industries of cotton, jute, sugar and stones along with the trade of tobacco and betel leaves.
  • Madhubani : The heart of art and culture in Bihar, Madhubani is worldwide famous for its paintings, the finest folk art carried by the women of the region. Besides, Madhubani is also famous for the tantric practices in the temples of the Hindu goddess Kali and the ruins of the palaces of the earlier heads of the princely state of Darbhanga.

The months of December and January are the cold ones, while April, May and June are the hot ones. The temperature during winters go as low as 5 degree Celsius, while in summers, it is as high as 46-47 degree Celsius. The months of July, August and September witness a good rainfall. October, February and March are the ideal months to visit the place owing to the pleasant whether.

 How to Reach

By Air – The Indian state of Bihar is easily accessible by air as besides other small airports, there are two major ones – Lok Nayak Jayaprakash airport at Patna, and Gaya airport. Patna airport is basically an domestic airport, and is directly connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Ranchi, while the Gaya airport is a small International airport connected to Colombo(Sri Lanka) and Thailand(Bangkok).

By Rail – A vast rail network connects Bihar with other parts of the country(India). Almost all the major cities of the state such as Patna, Bhagalpur, Barauni, Muzzaffarpur, Gaya and Samastipur have a direct rail access to Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

By Road – Bihar has a vast network of National and state highways, and are connected to different parts of India as well as neighbouring country Nepal.