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Bihar ( , , ) is a state in eastern India. Bihar is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi (99,200 km²), and 3rd largest by population. Close to 85 percent of the population lives in villages. Almost 58 per cent of Bihari are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in Indiamarker.

Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengalmarker in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradeshmarker in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by the country of Nepalmarker to the north and by Jharkhandmarker to the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Gangamarker which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area. Nalanda was a centre of learning established by the 5th century BC in Bihar, India. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languagesAngika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi or Maithili.

Ancient Bihar (which consisted of Anga (East Bihar), Mithila (North Bihar) and Magadha (South Bihar)) was a center of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From Magadha arose India's first greatest empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule. Its capital Patnamarker, earlier known as Pataliputramarker, was an important center of Indian civilization.

Today, Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human and economic development terms, Economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government, such as the freight equalisation policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state), and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company. The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance.The improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption. Indian and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity for sustainable economic development, and as such have shown interest in investing in the state.

Etymology of the name

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit word Vihara (Devanagari: विहार), which means "abode". The word Vihār is itself derived from the word Brahmavihāra meaning “Brahma abidings”, or "Sublime attitudes." The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, which were the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval period.

History

A part of Bihar was called "Magadha" in ancient times. From Magadha arose two traditions, Jainism and Buddhism. The greatest Indian empire, the Maurya empire, originated from Magadha, with its capital at Patliputramarker (modern Patnamarker) in 325 BC. The Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, who was born in Patliputra ( Patna ) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of Indiamarker and the world. After seeing all the carnage that war causes he was placed on the path of Lord Buddha by his Brahmin spiritual guide Manjushri.According to indologist A.L. Basham, the author of the book The Wonder that was India,

Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Gupta Empire, which again originated from Magadha in 240 CE, is referred to as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and Indian philosophy. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors. Historians place the Gupta dynasty alongside with the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Roman Empire as a model of a classical civilization. The capital of Gupta empire was Pataliputramarker, present day Patnamarker. The Vikramshilamarker and Nalandamarker universities were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient Indiamarker. Some writers believe the period between the 400 CE and 1000 CE saw gains by Hinduism at the expense of Buddhism. Although the Hindu kings gave much grants to the Buddhist monks for building Brahmaviharas. A National Geographic edition reads, "The essential tenants of Buddhism and Hinduism arose from similar ideas best described in the Upanishads, a set of Hindu treatises set down in India largely between the eighth and fourth centuries B.C."


The Buddhism of Magadha was swept away by the Muslim invasion under Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalandamarker and Vikramshilamarker were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred in 12th century CE.

The region saw a brief period of glory for six years (1540 -1546 CE) during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road. The economic reforms carried out by Sher Shah, like the introduction of Rupee and Custom Duties, is still used in the Republic of Indiamarker. He revived the city of Patnamarker, where he built up his headquarter. During 1557-1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengalmarker to his empire. With the decline of the Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence.

The tenth and the last human Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna. After the Battle of Buxarmarker (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengalmarker and Orissamarker. From this point, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissamarker.

Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India's First War of Independence (1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the struggle for India's independence.
It was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi launched his pioneering civil-disobedience movement, Champaran Satyagraha. Bhumihar Brahmin in Champaranmarker had earlier revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914 (at Pipra) and 1916 (Turkaulia) and Pandit Raj Kumar Shukla took Mahatma Gandhi to Champaranmarker and the Champaranmarker Satyagraha began. Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters.Champaran Satyagraha received the spontaneous support from many Bihari nationalists like Rajendra Prasad who became the first President of India and Anugrah Narayan Sinha who ultimately became the first Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.

In North and Central Bihar, peasants movement was an important side effect of the freedom movement. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights. Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of Indiamarker. All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknowmarker session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President. This movement aimed at overthrowing the feudal (zamindari) system instituted by Britishers. It was being led by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati and his followers Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Rahul Sankrityayan, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Baba Nagarjun and others. Pandit Yamuna Karjee along with Rahul Sankritayan and a few others started publishing a Hindi weekly Hunkar from Bihar, in 1940. Hunkar later became the mouthpiece of the peasant movement and the agrarian movement in Bihar and was instrumental in spreading the movement.

Bihar's contribution in the Indian freedom struggle has been immense with outstanding leaders like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sri Krishna Sinha, Dr.Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Brajkishore Prasad, Mulana Mazharul Haque, Jayaprakash Narayan, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Basawon Singh, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, Yogendra Shukla, Baikuntha Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, Pandit Yamuna Karjee and many others who worked for Indiamarker's freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses. Khudiram Bose, Upendra Narayan Jha "Azad", Prafulla Chaki and Baikuntha Shukla were active in revolutionary movement in Bihar.

On January 15, 1934, Bihar was devastated by an earthquake of magnitude 8.4. Some 30,000 people were said to have died.

The state of Jharkhandmarker was carved out of Bihar in the year 2000. 2005 Bihar assembly elections ended the 15 years of continuous RJD rule in the state, giving way to NDA led by Nitish Kumar. Bihari migrant workers have faced violence and prejudice in many parts of Indiamarker, like Maharashtramarker, Punjabmarker and Assammarker.

Geography and climate

Geography

Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It is drained by the Ganges Rivermarker, including northern tributaries Gandak and Koshi originating in the Nepal Himalayasmarker and the Bagmatimarker originating in the Kathmandu Valleymarker that regularly flood parts of the Bihar plains. The total area covered by the state of Bihar is 94,163 km². the state is located between 21°-58'-10" N ~ 27°-31'-15" N latitude and between 82°-19'-50" E ~ 88°-17'-40" E longitude. Its average elevation above sea level is . The Bihar plain is divided into two unequal halves by the river Gangamarker which flows through the middle from west to east. Other Ganges tributaries are the Son, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Falgu. The Himalayasmarker begin at foothills a short distance inside Nepal but influence Bihar's landforms, climate, hydrology and culture. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hillsmarker. The Himalayanmarker Mountains are to the north of Bihar, in Nepalmarker. To the south is the Chota Nagpur plateau, which was part of Bihar until 2000 but now is part of a separate state called Jharkhandmarker. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area.

Climate

Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius; 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (with average highs around 35-40 Celsius; 95-105 Fahrenheit). April to mid June are the hot months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October & November and February & March have pleasant climate.

Flora and fauna



Bauhinia acuminata locally knowns as Kachnaar


Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area. The sub Himalayan foothill of Someshwar and Dun ranges in Champaran district another belt of moist deciduous forests. These also consists of scrub, grass and reeds. Here the rainfall is above 1,600 mm and thus promotes luxuriant Sal forests in the favoured areas. The hot and dry summer gives the deduous forests. The most important trees are Shorea Robusta (Sal), Shisham, Cedrela Toona, Khairmarker, and Semal. This type of forests also occurs in Saharsa district and Purnia districtmarker. Shorea Robusta (sal), Dispyros melanoxylon (kendu), Boswellia serrata (salai), Terminalia tomentose (Asan), Terminalia bellayoica (Bahera), Terminalia Arjuna (Arjun), Pterocarpus Marsupium (Paisar), Madhuca indica (Mahua) are the common flora across the forest of Bihar.

The Ganges River dolphin, or “sois” occur in the Gangamarker and Brahmaputramarker, south Asia’s largest river systems. It can now be considered amongst the most endangered mammals of the region.

The Ganges River dolphin ranges from 2.3 to 2.6 meters in length. The tail fluke is on average 46 cm in width. females are larger than males. The color of this dolphin varies from lead-colored to black. The undersides are lighter in color. The rostrum is 18 to 21 cm in length and the forehead is steep and rises abruptly from the base of the snout. The dorsal fin is rudimentary and ridge-like, and the ends of the pectoral fins are squared instead of tapered. The neck is visibly constricted and the blowhole is a longitudinal slit. There are 28 to 29 teeth on either side of the jaw. The eye and optic nerve of the Ganges river dolphin are degenerate. The eye lacks a lens and is therefore incapable of forming images on the retina. However, it functions in light-detection. It is believed that the lack of a true visual apparatus in the river dolphin is related to its habitat; the water in which it lives is so muddied that vision in essentially useless.

Valmiki National Park, West Champaran district, covering about 800 km² of forest, is the 18th Tiger Reserve of India and is ranked fourth in terms of density of tiger population. It has diverse landscapes, sheltering rich wild­life habitats and floral and faunal composition, with the prime pro­tected carnivores.

Demographics

Bihar is the third most populated state of India with total population of 82,998,509 (43,243,795 male and 39,754,714 female). Nearly 90 per cent of Bihar's population lives in rural areas. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below 25 years age, which is highest in India. Hinduism is practiced by 83.2% of the population and forms the majority religion in the state. Islam is practiced by 11.5% of the population, and other religions less than 0.5%.Since ancient times Bihar has attracted migrants and settlers including Aryans, Bengalismarker, Turks from Central Asia, Persian, Afghans and Punjabi Hindu Refugees during the Partition of British India in 1947. Bihar has a total literacy rate is 47% (59.7% for males 33.1% for females).

Government and administration



The constitutional head of the Government of Bihar is the Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. The real executive power rests with the Chief Minister and the cabinet. The political party or the coalition of political parties having a majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the Government.

The current incumbent, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, succeeded Rabri Devi, wife of the Former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (also known as Laloo Prasad).

The head of the bureaucracy of the State is called the Chief Secretary. Under him is a hierarchy of officials drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and different wings of the State Civil Services. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice. Bihar has a High Court which has been functioning since 1916. All the branches of the government are located in the state capital, Patna.

The state is divided into 9 divisions and 38 districts, for administrative purposes. The various districts included in the divisions - Patna, Tirhut, Saran, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Mungermarker and Magadh Divisionmarker, are as listed below.

Politics

See also: Political parties in Bihar


Bihar was an important part of Indiamarker's struggle for independence. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Raj kumar Shukla, he was supported by great illumanaries like Rajendra Prasad,Sri Krishna Sinha,Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad.

The first Bihar Government both in 1937 and 1946 was led by two eminent leaders Sri Babu (Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha) and Anugrah Babu (Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha) who were men of unimpeachable integrity and great public spirit. They ran an exemplary government in Bihar.

After independence also, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to hold elections came from Bihar under the leadership of Jaya Prakash Narayan.

This resulted in two things:
  1. The identity of Bihar (from the word Vihar meaning monasteries) representing a glorious past was lost. Its voice often used to get lost in the din of regional clamor of other states, specially the linguistic states like Uttar pradeshmarker, Madhya pradeshmarker etc.
  2. Bihar gained an anti-establishment image. The establishment oriented press often projected the state as indiscipline and anarchy.
Since the regional identity was slowly getting sidelined , its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Brahmins, Bhumihar Brahmin and Rajputs. After Independence the power was shared by the two great gandhians Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha who later became the first chief minister of Bihar and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha who decidedly was next to him in the cabinet and served as the first deputy chief minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.In late 60's death of late Mr. Lalit Narayan Mishra (who was killed by a hand grenade attack for which central leadership is blamed most of the time) pronounced the end of indigenous work oriented mass leaders. For two decades congress ruled the state with the help of puppet chief ministries hand in glove with the central government (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) ignoring the welfare of the people of the state. It was the time when a prominent leader like Satyendra Narayan Sinha took sides with the Janata Party and deserted congress from where his political roots originated, following the ideological differences with the congress. Idealism did assert itself in the politics from time to time, viz, 1977 when a wave defeated the entrenched Congress Party and then again in 1989 when Janata Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stranglehold of the status quoits under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha and Karpoori Thakur. Unfortunately, this could not flourish, partly due to the impractical idealism of these leaders and partly due to the machinations of the central leaders of the Congress Party who felt threatened by a large politically aware state. The Communist movement in Bihar was led by veteran communist leaders like the venerable Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Indradeep Sinha, Chandrashekhar Singh, Sunil Mukherjee, Jagannath Sarkar and others.

Janata Dal came to power in the state in 1990 on the back of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Lalu Prasad Yadav became Chief Minister after winning the race of legislative party leadership by a slender margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party and close to eminent Janata Party leaders like Chandrashekhar and S N Sinha. Later, Lalu Prasad Yadav gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu Prasad Yadav was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a charismatic leader who had people's support and Bihar had got such a person as the chief minister after a long time. But he couldn't bring the derailed wagon of development of the state on to the track. When corruption charges got serious, he quit the post of CM but anointed his wife as the CM and ruled through proxy. In this period, the administration deteriorated fast.


By 2004, 14 years after's Lalu's victory, The Economist magazine said that "Bihar [had] become a byword for the worst of India, of widespread and inescapable poverty, of corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons they patronise, caste-ridden social order that has retained the worst feudal cruelties". In 2005, the World Bank believed that issues faced by the state was "enormous" because of "persistent poverty, complex social stratification, unsatisfactory infrastructure and weak governance".

In 2005, as disaffection reached a crescendo among the masses, middle classes included, the RJD was voted out of power and Lalu Prasad Yadav lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar has regained Bihar's true identity, which is the place from where people who changed the world come like Gautam Buddha or Asoka or Sher Shah Suri or the Sikh Gurus. Despite the separation of financially richer Jharkhandmarker, Bihar has actually seen more positive growth in recent years.

Currently, there are two main political formations: the NDA which comprises Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led coalition which also has the Indian National Congress. There are myriad other political formations. Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party is a constituent of the UPA at the centre, but does not see eye to eye with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD in Bihar. Bihar People's Party is a small political formation in north Bihar. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, but has got weakened now. CPM and Forward Bloc have minor presence. Ultra left parties like CPML, Party Unity etc have presence in pockets and are at war with the state.

Economy

Year Gross State Domestic Product

(millions of Indian Rupees)
1980
73,530
1985
142,950
1990
264,290
1995
244,830
2000
469,430
2005
710,060


Bihar accounts for 65 per cent of India's annual litchi production.
Farm workers in Bihar
The economy of Bihar is largely service oriented, but it also has a significant agricultural base. The state also has a small industrial sector. As of 2008, agriculture accounts for 35%, industry 9% and service 55% of the economy of the state. Manufacturing has performed very poorly in the state between 2002-2007, with an average growth rate of 0.38% compared to India's 7.8%. Bihar has the lowest GDP per capita in India, although there are pockets of higher than the average per capita income. Between 1999 and 2008, GDP grew by 5.1% a year, which was below the Indian average of 7.3%. More recently, Bihar's state GDP recorded a growth of 18% between 2006-2007, and stood at 942510 Crores Rupees ($21 billion nominal GDP). This makes Bihar the fastest growing major state. In actual terms, Bihar state GDP is ranked 14th out of 28 states. Corruption is an import hurdle for the government to overcome according to Transparacy International India, who highlighted Bihar as the Union's most corrupt state in a 2005 report. Despite many recent economic gains, significant challenges remain to do business in the state and the government has also stated that combating corruption is now the biggest challenge facing the administration.Life expectancy in Bihar (61 years) which is almost on par with the national life expectancy of 62.7 years.
A village market
Bihar has significant levels of production for the products of mango, guava, litchi, pineapple, brinjal, cauliflower, bhindi, and cabbage in India. Despite the states leading role in food production, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been inadequate in the past. Historically, the sugar and vegetable oil industries were flourishing sectors of Bihar. Until the mid fifties, 25% of India's sugar output was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro - industrial town. There have been attempts to industrialize the state between 1950 and 1980: an oil refinery in Baraunimarker, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, and a power plant at Muzaffarpurmarker. However, these were forced to shut down due to central government policy which neutralized the strategic advantages of Bihar. Hajipur, near Patna, remains a major industrial town in the state, linked to the capital city through the Ganga bridge and good road infrastructure.

The state's debt was estimated at 77 per cent of GDP by 2007.The Finance Ministry has given top priority to create investment opportunities for big industrial houses like Reliance. Further developments have taken place in the growth of small industries, improvements in IT infrastructure, the new software park in Patna, and the completion of the expressway from the Purvanchal border through Bihar to Jharkhand. In August 2008, a Patna registered company called the Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) India Limited took over the Australian guard and mobile patrol services business of American conglomerate, United Technologies Corp (UTC). SIS is registered and taxed in Bihar. The capital city, Patna, is one of the better off cities in India when measured by per capita income.

Demands for separate states

People of Tirhut/ Mithila (North Bihar) have been agitating for a separate state of Tirhut. They believe that only a separate state can focus on flood control and economic development. They want to make Sitamarhi town, the new capital of this state and Hindi as their state language. People of this region are bilingual (dubhasiya). They all speak Hindi and regional dialects of Bhojpuri and Maithili.

Education

Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the ancient universities of Nalandamarker (established in 450 CE) and Vikramshilamarker (established in 783 AD) . Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when it is believed that marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these centers of learning.

Bihar saw a revival of its education system during the later part of the British rule when they established Patna University (established in 1917) which is the seventh oldest university of the Indian subcontinent. Some other centers of high learning established by the British rule are Patna College (established in 1839), Bihar School of Engineering (established in 1900; now known as National Institute of Technology, Patna), Prince of Wales Medical Collegemarker (established in 1925; now Patna Medical College and Hospitalmarker), Science College, Patna (established in 1928) among others.After independence Bihar lost the pace in term of establishing center of education. Modern Bihar has a grossly inadequate educational infrastructure creating a huge mismatch between demand and supply. This problem further gets compounded by the growing aspirations of the people and an increase in population. The craving for higher education among the general population of Bihar has led to a massive migration of the student community from the state. This has prompted many students to seek educational opportunities in other states, such as New Delhimarker and Karnatakamarker, even for graduation level college education.

Literacy Rate from 1951~2001
Year Total Males Females
1951 13.49 22.68 4.22
1961 21.95 35.85 8.11
1971 23.17 35.86 9.86
1981 32.32 47.11 16.61
1991 37.49 51.37 21.99
2001 47.53 60.32 33.57
Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in India, with women's literacy being only 33.57%. At the time of independence women's literacy in Bihar was 4.22%. It is a pleasant surprise to find that in spite of the meagre investment on education in Bihar, specially compared to other Indian states, the students have done very well. Famed national institutes of learning such as IITs, IIMs, NITs and AIIMS have always have had a good representation from Bihar which is usually higher than their proportion of the population.Bihar has a National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Patna and an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)in Bihta near Patna. Other institutions of higher learning, and coveted positions in the government also show a greater share than the percentage of their population. A recent survey by Pratham rated the absorption of their teaching by the Bihar children better than those in other states.

Bihar established several new education institutes between 2006-2008. BIT Mesramarker started its Patna extension centre in September 2006. On 8 August, 2008 IIT of Indiamarker was inaugurated in Patna with 109 students from all over Indiamarker. National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) is being set up in Hajipur.On 4 August, 2008, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Patnamarker was established as 9th NIFT of Indiamarker. Chanakya National Law University a law university and Chandragupt Institute of Management a management institute was established in later half of 2008.Steps to revive the ancient Nalanda University is being taken for which countries like Japan, Korea and China have also taken initiatives.The plan is to create the worlds best university in the place which introduced the concept of university to the world.

The absence rate of teachers in public schools in Bihar is 37.8%.

Bihar e-Governance Services & Technologies(BeST) along with the Government of Bihar has initiated a unique program to establish a Centre of excellence called Bihar Knowledge Centre,a finishing school to equip students with the latest skills and customized short term training programs at an affordable cost. The centre aims to attract every youth of the state to hone up their technical, professional and soft skills and prepare them for the present industry requirement/ job market.

Culture

Language and literature

Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages - Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili or Angika. Bihari languages were once mistakenly thought to be dialects of Hindi, but these have been more recently shown to be descendant of the language of the erstwhile Magadha kingdom - Magadhi Prakrit, along with Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya.However Bihari Hindi a slang form of Standard Hindi is used as a lingua franca and many speak it as their first language throughout state.A small minority also speaks Bengali mainly in big districts or along border area with West Bengalmarker. Many Bengali speakers are generally people from West Bengalmarker or Hindu people from erstwhile East Pakistan who came during partition of Indiamarker in 1947.The mostly spoken language of bihar is Bhojpuri, approx 80 million people speaks Bhojpuri in BiharThe number of speakers of Bihari languages are difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language.

Despite of the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, they have not been constitutionally recognized in Indiamarker. Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar. These languages was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of HINDI in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the sole official language of the province. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region - Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950. Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar on 16 August 1989.
The relationship of Maithili community with Bhojpuri and Magahi communities – the immediate neighbors have been neither very pleasant nor very hostile. Maithili has been the only one among them which has been trying to constantly deny superimposition of Hindi over her identity. The other two have given up their claims and have resigned to accept the status of dialects of Hindi.

Bihar has produced a number of writers and scholars, including Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Ram Avatar Sharma, R. K. Sinha, Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksh Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', Pandit Nalin Vilochan Sharma, Gopal Singh "Nepali", Baba Nagarjun, Mridula Sinha, and Pankaj Rag. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, the great writer and Buddhist scholar, was born in U.P.marker but spent his life in the land of Lord Buddha, i.e., Bihar.Hrishikesh Sulabh is the prominent writer of the new generation. He is short story writer, playwright and theatre critic. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are the well-known poets. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the greatest writers in Bangla, resided for some time in Bihar. Of late, the latest Indian writer in English, Upamanyu Chatterjee also hails from Patna in Bihar. Devaki Nandan Khatri, who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century on account of his novels such as Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpurmarker, Bihar. Vidyapati Thakur is the most renowned poet of Maithili (c. 14-15th century).Dr Birbal Jha has created a movement for English teaching and learning in the state.To his credit he has more than 25 books on the English language and the general interest of students and teaching fraternity. His book" Spoken English Kit sells like a hot cake.In 2009 the government of Bihar entrusted him the assignment of teacher-training in the state.Dr Jha is known for his erudtion and vision for Bihar.

Interestingly, the first Indian author in English was a Bihari, Deen Mohammad. Among the contemprory writers in English Amitava Kumar, Tabish Khair and Sidhharth Chaoudhary are important names. Sidhharth Chaoudhary has been shortlisted for 2009 Man Asia Literary prize for his book Day Scholar.

The world famous literary and cultural movement Bhookhi Peedhi or Hungry generation was launched from Bihar's capital in November 1961 by two firebrand brothers Samir Roychoudhury and Malay Roy Choudhury. The movement had impacted most of the Indian languages of the time.

Urdu is second government language in Bihar which is the mother tongue of about Muslims who form about 17% of state's population. Near 25% people in Bihar read and write Urdu. Bihar has produced many Urdu scholars, such as Saad Azimabadi,Jamil Mazhari, Mollana Hasrat Mohani, Khuda Baksh Khan, Kaif Azimabadi, Rasik Azimabadiand, and in these days, Kalim Ajiz.

Arts and crafts

Madhubani paintings is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar. Tradition states that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas. Madhubani painting mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty. Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region, mainly by women. The painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and other milestones of the life-cycle such as birth, Upanayanam (Sacred thread ceremony), and marriage.

Manjusha Kala or Angika Art is an art form of Anga region of Bihar. Notably artist Jahar Dasgupta born in Jamshedpurmarker, Bihar which is presently under state Jharkhandmarker.

A painting of the city of Patna, on the River Ganges, Patna School of Painting.
Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company painting, offshoot of the well-know Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb found refuge, via Murshidabadmarker, in Patnamarker during late 18th century. They shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, but unlike them (whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes), the Patnamarker painters also started painting bazaar scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica. Favourite subjects were scenes of Indianmarker daily life, local rulers, and sets of festivals and ceremonies. Most successful were the studies of natural life, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that formed the nucleus for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. College of arts and crafts Patna is an important center of Fine Arts in Bihar.


The artisans of Bihar have been very skillful in creating articles using local materials. Baskets, cups and saucers made from bamboo-strips or cane reed are painted in vivid colors are commonly found in Bihari homes. A special container woven out of sikki grass in the north, the "pauti", is a sentimental gift that accompanies a bride when she leaves her home after her wedding. The weavers of Bihar have been practicing their trade for centuries. Among their products in common use are the cotton dhurries and curtains. They are produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Biharsharif areas. These colourful sheets, with motifs of Buddhist artifacts, pictures of birds, animals, and/or flowers, gently wafting in the air through doors and windows, blown by a cool summer breeze, used to be one of the most soothing sights as one approached a home or an office.Bhagalpurmarker is well known for its seri-culture, manufacture of silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products.It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.

Performing arts



Bihar has contributed to the Indian (Hindustani) classical music and has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan who later migrated out of Bihar. Dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhangamarker Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiahmarker Gharana), who were patronised by the Zamindars of Darbhanga and Bettiah respectively have produced maestros like Ram Chatur MallikAbhay Narayan Mallick, Indra Kishore Mishra.

Padma Shri Siyaram Tiwari(Ex MLC), was born in the year 1919 at Drbhanga. Who is a world wide icon, added a new horizon to this genre with integrity and serenity of Dhrupad intact and took it to its zenith. He was an exponent of Darbhanga gharana , he was trained in dhrupad by his maternal grand father Pt.Acharya Vishnu Dev Pathak and excelled in other genres such as khayal, thumri,tappa, bhajans ad folk musics taught by his father Pt. Baldev Tiwari.Honours & Awards:Honoured by President Dr. Rajendra Prasad, with a Gold Medal & by King Mahendra of Nepal, awarded Padma Shri in 1971, Laya Samrat 1954,Swar Vilas 1980, Ratna Sadasya Fellowship Award by Sangeet Natak Academy in 1984, Sangeet Mahamahopadhyaya by Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal, made a significant contribution in the establishment of Sangeet Natak Academy (Bihar), Tansen Award in the year 1998 and many other such felicitations.


Perhaps, not well acknowledged and commercialised as those from the Dagar school of Dhrupad, they have kept the Dhrupad tradition in perhaps the purest forms. Gaya was another centre of excellence in classical music, particularly of the Tappa and Thumri variety. Pandit Govardhan Mishra, son of the Ram Prasad Mishra, himself, an accomplished singer, is perhaps the finest living exponent of Tappa singing in India today, according to Padmashri Gajendra Narayan Singh, former Chairman of Bihar Sangeet Natak Academy. Gajendra Narayan Singh also writes in his latest book "surile Logon Ki Sangat" that Champanagar, Banaili was another major centre of classical music. Rajkumar Shyamanand Sinha of Champanagar Banaili estate was a great patron of music and himself, was one of the finest exponents of classical vocal music in Bihar in his time. Gajendra Narayan Singh in his other book "Swar Gandh" has written that "Kumar Shyamanand Singh of Banaili estate had such expertise in singing that many great singers including Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar were convinced about his prowess in singing. After listening to Bandishes from Kumar Saheb, Pandit Jasraj was moved to tears and lamented that alas! he could have such ability himself"(free translation of Hindi text).

Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc and the most famous folk singer has been Padma Shri Sharda Sinha. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments like Dholak, Bansuri and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used. Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as 'Phagua', filled with fun rhythms.During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the Britishmarker misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured laborers to West Indian islands, Fijimarker, and Mauritiusmarker. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area. Dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patnamarker.

Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.

Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are Bidesia, Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. These theater forms originate in the Anga region of Bihar.

Cuisine

The cuisine of Bihar for the Hindu upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, although some of the Hindu classes do eat meat. The Muslims in Bihar however do generally eat meat as well as vegetables. The staple food is bhat (boiled rice), dal, roti, tarkari and achar. It is prepared from rice, lentils, wheat flour, vegetables, and pickle. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes the mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays. The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of dough stuffed with sattu (grinded powder coming from roasted brown chickpeas) then boiled in water. It is then fried in oil, but little oil is used since it has been pre-boiled. Chokha is made of mashed potatoes, fried onions, salt, cilantro, and carrom seeds. Litti is also accompanied with ghee and channa (small brown chickpeas with onions and masala).

Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilbamarker and Chewda of Katarni rice are also special preparations of Anga. Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yoghurt and besan. This dish goes very well with plain rice.

Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengalmarker, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ke Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ki Lai, Laktho, Parwal ki Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut.Tilkut and Anarsa from gaya is world famous and LAI from Dhanarua is also famous. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patnamarker. Several other traditional salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu.

There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cuisine as well, although some of the names of the dishes may be the same as those found in other parts of North India. Roll is a typical Bihari non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.

Islamic culture and food, with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar`s unique confluence of cultures. Famous food items include Biharee Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kufte, Shabdeg, Yakhnee Biryanee, Motton Biryani, Shaljum Gosht, Baqer Khani, Kuleecha, Naan Rootee, Sawee ka Zarda, Qemamee Sawee, Gajar ka Halwa, Ande ka ZfraniHalwa etc.

Religion

Buddha's statue at Bodh Gaya's temple


Gautam Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gayamarker, a town located in the modern day district of Gayamarker in Bihar. Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali around sixth century BC.

A typical Hindu Bihari household would begin the day with the blowing of a conch shell at the dawn.

In rural Bihar, religion is the main component of popular culture. Shrines are located everywhere - even at the foot of trees, roadsides, etc, religious symbols or images of deities can be found in the most obscure or the most public places. From the dashboard of a dilapidated taxi to the plush office of a top executive, holy symbols or idols have their place.

Hindus are a majority in the state. Most of the festivals are Hindu festivals. There are many variations on the festival theme. While some are celebrated all over the state, others are observed only in certain areas. But Bihar being so diverse, different regions and religions have something to celebrate at sometime or the other during the year. So festivals take place round the year. Many of these are officially recognized by the days on which they take place being proclaimed as Government holidays.

One of the battle cry of the Bihar Regiment, consisting of 17 battalions, is "Jai Bajrang Bali" (Victory to Lord Hanuman).

Dariya Sahib, was a saint (who was born in Shahabad in the 1700s) influenced by Kabirdas and Dharamdas, brought the Hindu and Muslim communities closer. Dariya Sahib, like many other Bhakti saints, is known as Dariyadas. He was listed by Brahm Sankar Misra as one of India's greatest saints. Many of his followers believe that he is the reincarnation of Kabir.

Festivals

Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated twice a year: once in the summers, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once around a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. The latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North Indiamarker, and Chhath being an arduous observance requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, is easier to do in the Indian winters. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstenance and ritual segregation of the worshiper from the main household for two days. On the eve of Chhath, houses are scrupulously cleaned and so are the surroundings. The ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once on the crack of the dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion is almost a carnival, and besides every worshipper, usually women, who are mostly the main ladies of the household, there are numerous participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshiper. Ritual rendition of regional folk songs, carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, are sung on this occasion for several days on the go. These songs are a great mirror of the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradeshmarker. Chhath being celebrated at the crack of the dawn is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience connecting the modern Indian to his ancient cultural roots. Chhath is believed to be started by Karna, the king of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpurmarker region of Bihar).

Among ritual observances, the month long Shravani Mela held along a 108 kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganjmarker and Deogharmarker (now in Jharkhandmarker state) is of great significance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in the Hindu month of Shravan, that is the lunar month of July-August. Pilgrims, known as Kanwarias, wear saffron coloured clothes and collect water from a sacred Ghatmarker (river bank) at Sultanganjmarker, walking the 108 km stretch barefooted to the town of Deogharmarker to bathe a sacred Shiva-Linga. The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deogharmarker from all over India.

Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervor in Bihar. Bihula-Bishari Puja is celebrated in the Anga region of Bihar. The Sonepurmarker cattle fair is a month long event starting approximately half a month after Deepawali and is considered the largest cattle fair in Asia. It is held on the banks of the Son River in the town of Sonepurmarker. The constraints of the changing times and new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have eroded the once-upon-a-time magic of the fair.

Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of Indiamarker are celebrated in Bihar, such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (often called Eid-ul-Zuha in the Indian Subcontinent), Muharram, Ram Navami, Rath yatra, Rakshabandhan, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Chitragupta Puja, and several other local festivals as well.

Cinema

Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There are some small Maithili, Angika and Magadhi film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Jamuna released in 1961. "Lagi nahin chute ram" was the all-time superhit Bhojpuri film which was released against "Mugle Azam" but was a superhit in all the eastern and northern sector. Bollywood's Nadiya Ke Paar is among the most famous Bhojpuri language movie. The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan released in 1965, of which a significant portion was made in the Maithili language. Bhaiyaa a Magadhi film was released in 1961. Bhojpuri's history begins in 1962 with the well-received film Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo ("Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari"), which was directed by Kundan Kumar. Throughout the following decades, films were produced only in fits and starts. Films such as Bidesiya ("Foreigner," 1963, directed by S. N. Tripathi) and Gangamarker ("Ganges," 1965, directed by Kundan Kumar) were profitable and popular, but in general Bhojpuri films were not commonly produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1980s, enough Bhojpuri films were produced to tentatively make up an industry. Films such as Mai ("Mom," 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji ("My Brother's Wife," 1983, directed by Kalpataru) continued to have at least sporadic success at the box office. However, this trend faded out by the end of the decade, and by 1990, the nascent industry seemed to be completely finished.

The industry took off again in 2001 with the super hit Saiyyan Hamar ("My Sweetheart," directed by Mohan Prasad), which shot the hero of that film, Ravi Kissan, to superstardom. This success was quickly followed by several other remarkably successful films, including Panditji Batai Na Biyah Kab Hoi ("Priest, tell me when I will marry," 2005, directed by Mohan Prasad) and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala ("My father-in-law, the rich guy," 2005). In a measure of the Bhojpuri film industry's rise, both of these did much better business in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than mainstream Bollywood hits at the time, and both films, made on extremely tight budgets, earned back more than ten times their production costs. Sasura Bada Paisa Wala also introduced Manoj Tiwari, formerly a well-loved folk singer, to the wider audiences of Bhojpuri cinema. In 2008, he and Ravi Kissan are still the leading actors of Bhojpuri films, and their fees increase with their fame. The extremely rapid success of their films has led to dramatic increases in Bhojpuri cinema's visibility, and the industry now supports an awards show and a trade magazine, Bhojpuri City, which chronicles the production and release of what are now over one hundred films per year. Many of the major stars of mainstream Bollywood cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, have also recently worked in Bhojpuri films.

Media

Biharbandhu was the first Hindi newspaper published from Bihar. It was started in 1872 by Madan Mohan Bhatta, a Maharashtrian Brahman settled in Biharsharif. Hindi journalism in Bihar, and specially Patnamarker, could make little headway initially. It was mainly due to lack of respect for Hindi among the people at large. Many Hindi journals took birth and after a lapse of time vanished. Many journals were shelved even in the embryo. But once Hindi enlisted the official support, it started making a dent into the remote areas in Bihar. Hindi journalism also acquired wisdom and maturity and its longevity was prolonged. Hindi was introduced in the law courts in Bihar in 1880.

Urdu journalism and poetry has a glourious past in bihar many poets belongs to bihar such as Shaad Azimabadi,kaif azimabadi,kalim ajiz and many more.Shanurahman world famous radio announcer is from bihar.Many Urdu daily such as qomi tanzim and sahara publish from bihar at this time

The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by a number of notable new publications. A monthly magazine named Bharat Ratna was started from Patnamarker in 1901. It was followed by Kshtriya Hitaishi, Aryavarta from Dinapure, Patnamarker, Udyoga and Chaitanya Chandrika. Udyog was edited by Vijyaanand Tripathy, a famous poet of the time and Chaitanya Chandrika by Krishna Chaitanya Goswami, a literary figures of that time. This literary activities were not confined to Patnamarker alone but to many districts of Bihar.

Magahi Parishad, established in Patnamarker in 1952, pioneered Magadhi journalism in Bihar. It started the monthly journal, Magadhi, which was later renamed Bihan.

DD Bihar and ETV Bihar-Jharkhand are the television channels dedicated to Bihar. Recently a dedicated Bhojpuri channel, Mahuaa TV has been launched.

Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Navbharat Times, Aj and Prabhat Khabar are some of the popular Hindi news papers of Bihar. National English dailies like The Times of India and The Economic Times have reads in the urban regions.

E-papers, Bihar Times and Patna Daily have become very popular among the educated Biharis, specially the non-resident Biharis.

Similarly JaiBihar.com is an e-paper, which has been recently started by Kunwar Sanjeev Singh. The blog magazine has recently bagged many international awards for its fierce and independent journalism. The website is a good read on politics, governance and current developments in Bihar.

Similarly Bihardiary.com is an online portal on Bihar, which has been started by Rashmi Ranjan Parida. The website contains content on politics, governance and current developments in Bihar.

Transportation

Bihar has three airports: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airportmarker, Patnamarker, Gaya Airportmarker, Gayamarker and Bhagalpurmarker Airport . Patna airportmarker is connected to Delhimarker, Mumbaimarker, Kolkatamarker, Lucknowmarker, and Ranchimarker. It is categorized as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya Airportmarker is an international airport connected to Colombomarker, Singaporemarker, Bangkokmarker, Paro and more.

Bihar is well-connected by railway lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected among themselves, and they also are directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patnamarker, Gayamarker, Muzaffarpurmarker, Darbhangamarker, Katiharmarker, Baraunimarker, Chhapramarker and Bhagalpurmarker are Bihar's best-connected railway stations.

The state has a vast network of National and State highways.For Buddhist pilgrims, the best option for travel to Bihar is to reach Patna or Gaya, either by air or train, and then travel to Bodh Gayamarker, Nalandamarker, Rajgirmarker and Vaishali. Sarnathmarker in Uttar Pradeshmarker also is not very far.

The Gangesmarker — navigable throughout the year — was the principal river highway across the vast north Indian Gangetic plain. Vessels capable of accommodating five hundred merchants were known to ply this river in the ancient period; it served as a conduit for overseas trade, as goods were carried from Pataliputramarker (later Patnamarker) and Champa ( later Bhagalpurmarker) out to the seas and to ports in Sri Lankamarker and Southeast Asia. The role of Ganges as a channel for trade was enhanced by its natural links - it embraces all the major rivers and streams in both north and south Bihar.

In recent times Inland Waterways Authority of India has declared Ganga, between Allahabadmarker and Haldiamarker, national inland waterway and has taken steps to restore its navigability.

Tourism



Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, with a history spanning 3,000 years. The rich culture and heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments spread throughout the state. Bihar is visited by scores of tourists from all over the world, with around 6,000,000 (6 million) tourists visiting Bihar every year.

In earlier days, tourism in the region was purely based educational tourism, as Bihar was home of some prominent ancient universities like Nalanda Universitymarker & Vikramaśīla Universitymarker.

Bihar is one of the most sacred place for various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam.

Mahabodhi Templemarker, a Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also situated in Bihar.Mahatma Gandhi Setumarker, Patnamarker, is the longest river bridge in the world.

Archaeological sites and Monuments in Bihar
Excavation

Kumhrar·Agam Kuanmarker·Barabar Cavesmarker·Nalandamarker·Vikramsilamarker
Ancient

Vishnupada Templemarker · Mahabodhi Templemarker · Sasarammarker · Maner Sharif · Patliputramarker · Brahmayoni Hill · Pretshila Hill · Ramshila Hill
Forts

Rohtasgarh Fort · Munger Fortmarker · Sasaram Fort · Palamu Fort · Maner Fort · Jalalgarh Fort · Rajmahal, Biharmarker
Monuments

Golgharmarker · Patna Museummarker · Kargil Chowkmarker · Mahatma Gandhi Setumarker




Pilgrimage sites in Bihar
Hindu Pilgrimage

Mahavir Mandir · Hariharkshetra, Hajipurmarker. Sitamarhimarker · Madhubani · Punausa · Buxur · West Champaran · Mungermarker · Jamuimarker · Darbhangamarker · Anga

Jain Pilgrimage


Rajgirmarker · Pawapuri · Patliputramarker · Arrahmarker · Vikramasilamarker
Buddhist Pilgrimages

Mahabodhi Templemarker · Bodhi Tree ·Bodh Gayamarker · Gayamarker · Vaishali · Pawapuri· Nalandamarker · Rajgirmarker · Kesariyamarker · Vikramshilamarker · Arerajmarker · Patliputramarker
Sikh Pilgrimage

Takht Shri Harmandir Sahebmarker · Guru ka Baghmarker · Ghai Ghatmarker · Handi Sahibmarker · Gobind Ghatmarker · Bal Lila Mainimarker··Taksali Sangat · Guru Baghmarker · Chacha Phaggu Mal · Pakki Sangat · Bari Sangat
Islamic Pilgrimages

Sasarammarker · Maner Sharif · Bihar Sharifmarker · Phulwari Sharifmarker · Patna

Christian Pilgrimages


Padari ki havelimarker




References

Further reading



External links




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