Rajgir, an important tourist place of India is known for its temples, monasteries and beautiful scenic beauty.
Rajgir, just 15 kms from Nalanda is located the complex of temples and monasteries. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Rajgir was the capital of the Magadha when Patliputra was not formed. In those days it was called ‘Rajagriha’.
Historical Importance of Rajgir
Rajgir or Rajagriha means the ‘Home of Royalty’. This place has been associated with Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Buddha not only spent many years in Rajgir but also delivered sermons here and proselytized Emperor Bimbisara at the Gridhakuta hill. The ‘Jeevak Amravana’ monastery was the favorite residence for Buddha. Even Bimbisara gave ‘Venuvan Vihar’ to Buddha for his residence. It is said that it was at Rajgir that physician treated Buddha, Jeevak after he was injured by his cousin Devadatta. The teachings of Buddha were penned down at Rajgir and it was also the venue for the First Buddhist Council.
Tourism in Rajgir
Today Rajgir has come up as one of the most important pilgrimage for the Buddhist. Rajgir also has some very beautiful Hindu and Jain temples which attracts Hindus and Jains also to the place. Not only as a place for worship, Rajgir has come up as health and winter resort with its warm water ponds. These ponds are said to contain some medicinal properties which help in the cure of many skin diseases. The added attraction of Rajgir is the Ropeway which takes you uphill to the Vishwa Shanti Stupa and Monasteries built by the Japanese Devotees on top of the Ratnagiri hills.
Jarasandha Ka Akhara: This is the Ranbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandha fought one of the Mahabharata battles.
Jeevak Amravana Gardens: Seat of the Royal Physician's dispensary where Lord Buddha was once brought to have wound dressed by Jeevak, the royal physician during the reign of Ajatashatru and Bimbisara.
Ajatashatru Fort: Built by Ajatshatru in 6th century B.C. during the Buddha’s time. The 6.5 sqm Ajatshatru’s Stupa is also believed to have been built by him.
Cyclopean Wall: Once 40 km long, it encircled ancient Rajgir. Built of massive undressed stone carefully fitted together, the wall is one of the few important Pre-Mauryan stone structures ever to have been found.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa: The Vishwa Shanti Stupa is located on a 400 meter high hill. The stupa is built in marble and on the 4 corners of the stupa are 4 statues of Lord Buddha.
Venuvana: Site of the monastery Venuvana Vihar built by King Bimbisara for Lord Buddha to reside. This was the king’s first offering to Lord Buddha.
Karanda Tank: It is the tank in which Buddha used to bathe.
Son Bhandar Caves: Two cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. The doorway is supposed to lead to King Bimbisara Treasury. Inscriptions on the wall are so far undeciphered and are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact.
Bimbisara’s Jail: Ajatashatru imprisoned his father King Bimbisara here. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration, for, from this spot he could see Lord Buddha climbing up to his mountain retreat atop the Gridhakuta hill. There is a clear view of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa.
Veerayatan: A Jain Temple and Museum
Jain Temple: On hill crests around Rajgir, far in the distances one can see about 26 Jain Temples. They are difficult to approach for the untrained, but make exciting trekking for those in form.
Chariot Route Marks: The Chariot Route and hell inscriptions are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon. Two parallel furrows cut deep into rock for about 30 feet giving credence to the local belief that they were “burnt” into the rock by the speed and power of Lord Krishna’s chariot when he entered the city of Rajgir during the epic Mahabharata times.
Hot Springs: At the foot of Vaibhava Hill, a staircase leads up to the various temples. Separate bathing places have been organized for men and women and the water comes through spouts from ‘Saptdhara’, the seven streams, believed to find their source behind the "Saptaparni Caves", up in the hills. The hottest of the springs is the ‘Brahma Kund’ with a temperature of 45 degree Centigrade.
Pippala Cave: Above the hot springs on the Vaibhava Hill, is a rectangular stone sculpted by the forces of nature which appears to have been used as a watch tower. Since it later became the resort of pious hermits, it is also called Pippala Cave and popularly known as "Jarasandha ki Baithak".
Kundalpur: The Digambar sect of Jains believes that Lord Mahavira was born at Kundalpur, 18 km from Rajgir.
Gridhakuta Hill: This was the place where the lord Buddha set in a motion his second wheel of law for 3 months even during the rainy season, preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples. The Buddha Sangha of Japan has constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti Stupa, at the top of the hill in commemoration.
Other Places: New Rajgir Walls, Bimbisara Road and Maniyar Math are the sites of tourist interest.
How to Reach Rajgir
The nearest airport is at Patna about 101 kms. Though Rajgir itself has a railway station yet the nearest convenient railhead is at Gaya 78 kms. Regular buses are available from Gaya to Rajgir.