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RAJGIR                                             General Information of Rajgir

Rajgir, 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 Upanishadic philosophers. 

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 Japanese pilgrims. 

PRIME SITES
Gridhakuta Hill:
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).

Vishwa Shanti Stupa:
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.

Ajatashatru's Fort:
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 Buddha's relics.

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.

Venuvana Vihar:
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.

Saptadhara:
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.


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