States of India
The Buddha lived in the sixth century BC. Mahavir was born in 567 BC and the traveller in Bihar will encounter them both constantly. Rajgir is 10km south of Nalanda and sacred to the memory of the founder of both Buddhism and Jainism. Lord Buddha spent many months of retreat during the rainy season here, and used to meditate and preach on Griddhkuta, the 'Hill of the Vultures'. Lord Mahavir spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda. It was in Rajgriha that Lord Buddha delivered some of his famous sermons and converted king Bimbisara of the Magasha Kingdom and countless others to his creed. Once a great city, Rajgir is just a village today, but vestiges of a legendary and historical past remain, like the cyclopean wall that encircles the town and the marks engraved in rock that local folklore ascribes to Lord Krishna's chariot. This legend, like many others associates Rajgir to that distant time when the stirring events recorded in the epic Mahabharata were being enacted. Rajgir is located in a verdant valley surrounded by rocky hills.
An aerial ropeway provides the link with a hill-top stupa "Peace Pagoda" built by the Japanese. On one of the hills in the cave of Saptparni, was held the first Buddhist Council. The Saptparni cave is also the source of the Rajgir Hot Water Springs that have curative properties and are sacred to the Hindus.
TREASURE OF RAJGIR :
Amaravana or Jivaka's Mango Garden
Site of the Royal Physician's dispensary where the Lord Buddha was once brought to have wound dressed by Jivaka, the royal physician during the reign of Ajatashatru and Bimbisara.
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.
Built by Ajatashatru (6th century B.C.), the king of Magadha during the Buddha's time. The 6.5 sq. metre Ajatashatru's Stupa is also believed to have been built by him.
King Bimbisara was imprisoned here by his impatient son and heir, Ajatashatru. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration. For, from this spot, he could see Lord Buddha climbing up to his moutain retreat atop the Griddhakuta Hill. There is a clear view of the Japanese Pagoda. The stupa of peace was built on the top of the hill.
Two rather strange cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers is believed to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; this 'doorway' is supposed to lead to king Bimbisara treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhalipi or shell script, etched into the wall and so far undeciphered, are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact.
The second chamber bears a few traces of seated and standing guards etched into the outer wall.
The 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. Trace of the wall still subsist, particularly at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya.
Griddhakuta or Vulture's Peak
This was the place where the Lord Buddha set in motion his second wheel of Law and for three months every year during the rainy season,preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples. The Buddha Sangha of Japan have constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), at the top of the hill in commemoration. A bridle path leads up to the hill but it is much more fun to take the Aerial Chairlift which operates every day except Thursday. One way ride takes 7.5 minutes and the view is splendid over the hills of Rajgir.
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.
At the foot of the Vaibhava Hill. A staircase leads up to the various temples. Separate bathing places have been organised 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 Brahmakund with a temperature of 450C.
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 "Jarasandh Ki Baithak" after the name of the king Jarasandh,a contemporary of Lord Krishna described in the epic Mahabharata.
Other Places of Interest
Other archaeological sites including the Karnada Tank where Lord Buddha used to bathe, the Maniyar Math that dates from the 1st century AD, the Maraka Kukshi where the still unborn Ajatashatru was cursed as a patricide, the Rannbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh fought one of the Mahabharat battles. The Chariot Route and shell inscriptions are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon, two parallel furrows cut deep into the rock for about thifty 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. Several shell inscriptions, the undeciphered characters current in central and eastern India from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD, are engraved in the rock around the chariot marks. Virayatan--a Jain temple and Museum.
Travel Info :
By Air :The nearest airport is Patna (107km).
By Rail: The nearest railway station on Delhi-Howrah (Calcutta) main line is Bakhtiyarpur 54Kms. Though the loop line connects nalanda.
By Road: Rajgir is connected by Road to Patna, Gaya, Delhi.