known earlier as 'Rajagriha' or Girivaraja, nestles in the rocky hills,
that witnessed the teachings of both Buddha and Mahavira. It lies 15 km
south of Nalanda, and was the ancient capital of the Magadha kings. The
Buddha frequented Rajagriha, seeking the solitude and tranquillity of the
Jivkamaravana monastery, preaching and meditating at the Griddhakuta hill
(Hill of vultures). It was at this hill, that he converted one of his
celebrated followers, the Mauryan king Bimbisara, to Buddhism. After the
Buddha reached 'parinirvana', his followers held the first Buddhist
council at the Saptaparni cave. It was here, that His teachings were
penned down for the very first time.
The picturesque Rajgir, or Rajagriha as it was known in the past
(literally, the abode of kings) is surrounded by the meandering river
Banganga and 5 hills.
During the lifetime of the Buddha this was the capital of the
powerful Magadhan kingdom, ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara. The hills
and caves surrounding Rajagriha were home to spiritual teachers, ranging
from the materialism of the early Charavaka school to the metaphysics of
Like many others in search of truth, Prince Siddhartha, after he renounced
his royal heritage came to this city to seek the path of vation.
Siddhartha overwhelmed the citizens of Rajagriha with his serenity and
grace. Even the king went to meet the ascetic and was amazed to learn that
he was a kshatriya of royal descent. Bimbisara offered half his kingdom to
Siddhartha but all he received was an assurance that when Siddhartha
achieved his gola he would return to Rajagriha.
The first Buddhist structures at Rajgir were raised when Ajatsatni built a
monastery, and a stupa over his share of the Buddha's ashes. That
reliquary is now a mound used as a graveyard. The Japanese much
later have built the World Peace Stupa, with its gilded images of the
Buddha. Rajgir also has the Nipponzan Myohoji, the Japanese temple, and
the Centaur Hokke Club which offers some traditional facilities to
About 10km from the railway station is Gridhakuta (Vulture's Peak), the
hill from where Gautama Buddha delivered many sermons, after he attained
enlightenment. It was here that the Buddha delivered two important sutras
- the Lotus Sutra and the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra).
To mark the holy spot at the Gridhakuta Hill, there stands today the 38m
high Vishwa Shanti Stupa. The awesome modern stupa can be reached by a
chairlift, a fifteen-minute round trip offering panoramic views.
The ruins of a fort built by the king of Magadha, Ajatashatru, can be seen
here. Built in the 6th century, it was within these high walls that he
imprisoned his father, Bimbisara. Archaeologists have discovered the
remains of Ajatshatru Stupa, which enshinres Magadha's share of the
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:
This pink-hued temple stands beside the hot springs and, as the name
indicates, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his consort, Goddess Lakshmi.
It is a Japanese shrine where a monastery was built for the Buddha to
live. It is said that king Bimbisara as an offering to the buddha, built
Venuvana or the Monastery of the Bamboo Grove. Right next to it is the
now-muddy water tank, Karanda, in which the Buddha bathed.
Gushing from the base of the Vaibhava Hill are the seven hot springs,
called Saptadhara, that attract the religious as well as the sick. The
hottest of these sulphur springs is the Brahmakund, where the water is a
steaming 45 degrees centigrade. It is believed that the Buddha used its
waters to heal the ill and the infirm.
HOW TO GET THERE :
Air :- The nearest airport is Patna 100 k.m. away.
Rail :- The nearest mainline is Bhakhtiyarpur,54 k.m.,though the
top line connects Rajgir
Road :- Hundred kilometres southest of Patna, Rajgir is connected
by an excellent road to Patna as well as to Bodh Gaya, which is 70 kms
away. The ancient university, Nalanda, is just 11 kms from here.