Bihar holds an important place in Indian and Buddhist history. Siddhartha Gautama, Lord Buddha himself, spent most of his life in Bihar and reached enlightenment under a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya. This is the most important pilgrimage site in the world for Buddhists, and there are many international monasteries in Bodhgaya.
The most important monument in Bodhgaya is the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mahabodhi Temple. It is one of the earliest Buddhist brick temples still standing in India. It marks the place of enlightenment, together with a descendent of the Bodhi tree under which Buddha reached it.
In Nalanda, you can visit the ruins of one of the first universities of the ancient world. The ruins of this ancient seat of learning are truly fascinating. The university’s libraries were so extensive that they burnt for six months when the university was pillaged in the 12th century.
In the 4th century BC, Bihar was a powerful kingdom that expanded to the first great Indian empire. Its capital Pataliputra (today Patna) is said to have been the largest city in the world around that time. Ashoka ruled here and built his famous pillars throughout Northern India.
25km from the capital Patna you can find Sonepur, where according to legend Vishnu ended the battle between the lords of the forest and the water. On the full moon of November/December the Sonepur Mela is celebrated to mark this tale. At this time Asia’s largest cattle fair is held at Haathi bazaar.