(Last Updated on : 15/09/2010)
Temples of Bihar depict the ancient and rich cultural tradition of the state. The state of Bihar was famous for its Buddhist learning center in the past. This state is also one of the major Buddhist tourist centers in India and thus visited by a large number of devotees and general tourists throughout the year. The temples in Bihar form the major attractions in the tour of Bihar. People here are extremely religious and the temples in this state truly reflect their utter religious sentiments. The state of Bihar is also regarded as the starting point of Buddhism and Jainism and it is for this reason there are several Jain and Buddhist temples in this state.
There are several temples in Bihar
which prove to be the burning examples of the religious feelings of the people of the state. The rich historical past of Bihar is visible through the temples in this state. The Aranya Devi temple is situated in the Chowk area, which is at a distance of about 3.2 kilometers from Arrah railway station. Horse-drawn ekkas, rickshaws and carriages are some of the means of transport available at this railway station. There are also several passenger buses which run through Arrah from Varanasi
. The Goddess Aranya Devi is the Goddess of Sakama-bhakti and it is believed that she fulfills the desires of her devotees. This temple in Bihar is Aranya Devi temple in Bihar is rebuilt on modern lines whit mosaic and marble decorations. The temple of Aranya Devi faces towards the east. The temple possesses a round dome. While entering the temple one will find a courtyard and two verandas or porticos are there to the north and west. Three bells, a well, a Shiva linga and a charity box are there in west portico. A space of tree feet length and three feet breadth is there for the priest towards the west of the portico. Two Aranya Devis are seen standing on a throne towards the west of that area and the throne is about 10 feet in height. The statues of the Devis are carved out of black stone. One of the statues is 3 feet in height and the other one is 2 feet high. The Goddesses are dressed in yellow sari and decorated with mukuts over their heads and flower garlands round their neck. The statues of Lord Krishna
are there to the left of Aranya Devi, which is in the northern direction of the Aranya Devi Temple. The marble statues of Lord Rama
are situated to the left side of the Devi. The deity is twice bathed every day in this temple which is followed by the offering of prasad, alongwith the priest`s recitation of hymns and ringing bells and drums and arati.
Vishnupad temple of Bihar is one of the major places of Hindu pilgrimage in the state where one can see 40 centimeter long footprint of the Lord Vishnu
. There is a history behind this temple that this temple was constructed on the footprints of the Lord Vishnu. The footprint of the Lord is imprinted in hard rock and it is also encircled by a silver basin in order to keep it away from a touchable distance to the devotees. The Vishnupad temple is situated on the banks of the River Phalgu in the district of Gaya
. In the year 1787, Queen Ahilya Bai of Indore constructed this temple. There are several images and shrines inside the Vishnupad temple. The delicately curved door frame of the small but attractive Narasimha temple present inside the courtyard of Vishnupad temple is one of the beauties of this place. Next to the Narasimha Temple to the north, there is also a Vishnu temple which is constructed by brick walls and stone pillars. The eastern portion of the courtyard of Vishnupad temple is devoted to Lord Shiva
where the idol of Shiva is placed in the form of Phalgwisvara. Phalgwisvara is regarded as the lord of Phalgu River. The Brahmajuni hill is located at a distance of one kilometer from the Vishnupad temple and one can reach the top of the hill by climbing about one hundred steps of stone. The clear and beautiful view of this temple can be enjoyed from the top of this hill. This place is regarded as very sacred for those having deep faith on Lord Vishnu.
One of the notable temples in Bihar is the Durga temple. It is evident from the name that this temple is dedicated to the Goddess Durga
. Goddess Durga is regarded in Hinduism
as the manifestation of strength or Shakti. Devotees in large number visit this temple to offer prayer before their goddess and believe that she will take away all their pains and sufferings and bestow them with all the happiness in life. The design of this Durga temple is Bihar is primitive but it is very popular among the people living in this state. One of the prominent aspects of this temple is that the great Indian poet Kalidasa used to learn in the pathshala or a village school and this was situated in the Durga temple premises. The great poet Kalidasa
, who was linked to this temple of Bihar, wrote the `Meghaduta`
and the `Abhijnanasakuntalam`
, the two exceptional pieces of Indian literature. There is a belief that the poet was blessed by Devi Saraswati, the Goddess of learning and she rested in the writing pen of the poet.
Hariharnath temple is another remarkable Hindu temple in Bihar which is situated at Sonepur in the district of Saran. This temple is one of the well-known temples of the state where people from various places of Bihar and other parts of India visit regularly. Devotees in large number mainly visit this temple on the eve of the famous Sonepur mela on the day of Kartik Purnima. It is believed that on this auspicious full moon day whatever prayer offered to the lard by the devotees is fulfilled. On this auspicious day of Kartik Purnima devotees visit this temple to worship their lord and enjoy the huge mela. The devotees also practice fast and the fast is broken only after the completion of their pujas before their Lord. On this day meals are also offered to each and every individual who visit this temple and it is seen that the meals are offered round the month. People also visit the Hariharnath temple on Kartik Purnima to take a holy bath in the river. At this time the Sonepur village gets a very distinct festive look which lasts for more than a month.
Apart from the Hindu temples in Bihar, there are also several Buddhist and Jain temples. The notable among them is the Mahaparinirvana Temple in Kushinagar. The huge deity of Lord Buddha
which is twenty feet long was unearthed in the year 1876. This deity is exhibited in this temple. As per the inscriptions on the statue, it is understood that the statue was constructed in the 5th century AD. This imposing statue in the Mahaparinirvana Temple is admirably placed on a platform made of brick and the same is posts of stone at the corners. The remarkable thing is that the gigantic statue of Lord Buddha is carved out of a single red stone. The sacred pilgrimage for Buddhists, Kushinagar, is located at a distance of 55 kilometers from Gorakhpur. It is that place where Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana at the age of eighty. This reclining statue is famous throughout the world. This Buddha temple in Kushinagar is located at the back of the Nirvana Stupa. Due to its great historical background, the Mahaparinirvana temple in Kushinagar forms one of the major attractions for general tourists as well as devotees.
Another notable Buddhist temple in the state of Bihar is the Mahabodhi temple
, Bodh Gaya
. This place is regarded as one of the most sacred of the Buddhist places of pilgrimage. The city of Bodh Gaya is situated at a distance of 405 kilometers from Patna
and at a distance of about 7 miles to the south of Gaya. There is a platform beneath the Bodhi tree which is known as Vajrasana. At this place the Lord Buddha used to meditate. The Mahabodhi temple Complex at Bodh Gaya is also included in the World Cultural Heritage list of UNESCO. In the 3rd century BC emperor Ashoka
founded the Mahabodhi temple. This is one of the earliest Buddhist temples made of brick in India which exists from the later parts of the Gupta empire in India
. There is a belief that the Lord Buddha got enlightenment at this place and the diamond throne which lies in between the Mahabodhi temple and the Bodhi tree shows the exact spot of the enlightenment of Buddha. There is a spectacular image of Lord Buddha
which is positioned on the temple wall and the footsteps of the Lord are arched in hard stone. This temple is visited by a large number of tourists and devotees for its religious importance as well as its beautiful architectural design. There is a mention of the Mahabodhi temple in the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang`s writings. He came to India in the 637 AD and described about the beauty of this temple in his writings. The Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya is a masterpiece of great architectural design and it is one of the rarest examples of temple construction in India which is only made of bricks.
One of the most august places of pilgrimage for the Jains in Bihar is the Jalmandir temple complex which is located at Pawapuri. This place is positioned at a distance of 60 kilometers to the south-west of Patna. It is this place where the Lord Mahavira took his last breathed in around 500 BC and he was also cremated at this spot. It is believed that a large number of people gathered to have a glimpse of the funeral of the Lord. The demand for the ashes of the Lord Mahavira
by his mourners was so heavy that a huge amount of soil was moved out from the area of the funeral resulting in the formation of a water tank. The white marble temple, Jalmandir, is situated in the middle portion of a lotus pond which marks the accurate location where the cremation of Lord Mahavira kook place. A large number of devotees visit this temple regularly. There is a common belief that those who pray here get rid of their worldly sins. There is another temple for the Jains close to the Jalmandir which is known as Samosharan.
Bihar is one of the states in India which is treasured by the presence of a large number of temples. The temples in this Indian state is evident of the fact the state possesses a rich cultural heritage and it also displays the utter faith of its people towards their religion. A large number of tourists as well as devotees visit Bihar throughout the year to worship their deities as well as to enjoy the artistic beauty of the temple construction. Some of the most prominent among the temple of Bihar are Bari Patan Devi (Patna), Ma Paudi (Singhbhum), Aranya Devi Temple (Patna), Chaubishi Jain Mandir (Gaya), Jalamandir (Patna), Puran Devi (Purnia), Durga Temple, Kurkihar Temple, Chutia Temple, Hariharnath Temple, Mundesvari Temple, Parasnath Temple, Vaishali Temple, Masarah Temple, etc.