Exploring the heritage sites Bodhgaya, Rajgir and Nalanda

My family recently had a memorable holiday trip to Nalanda, Rajgir and Bodhgaya. Rajgir is the place where the First Buddhist Council met. Bodh Gaya is the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and Nalanda was once a prominent Monastic and Educational Institution of Oriental Art and Learning. These three places in Bihar state is popularly known as the Buddhist Circuit.  It took nearly four hours to reach Bodhgaya from Patna. We opted a stay in Tathagat Vihar, a guest house in Rajgir. The travel from Bodhgaya to Rajgir and within Rajgir was great pleasure. buddhist-circuit-tour We saw thousands of devotees from South East Asian countries such as Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Japan.  The main specialty I noticed there was every country has its own Monastery with facilities for their citizens to stay. The Japanese government has even sponsored the Shanti Stupa and a garden where the first Buddhist Council meeting was held. We also visited the Hiuen Tsiang Memorial in Nalanda. The majority of the tourists found there was Chinese. When we visited the Bodhgaya temple, we could see a large group of East Europeans meditating there, chanting mantras. From that, I could very well say that Buddhism is getting increasingly popular in Eastern Europe. On the other side of the temple I also saw a German Buddhist group meditating. The meditation park in the temple complex is very well maintained. As we began exploring the temple complex, we could also see monks performing various religious activities. Inside the sanctum is the main golden image of Lord Buddha. It took about 3 hours to reach Nalanda from Bodh Gaya. We had a visit to see the famous ruins of the ancient Nalanda University. The ruins occupy an area of 14 hectares. You may know that Turkic Muslim invaders under Bakhtiyar Khilji who destroyed Nalanda. It is said that the vast library of the Nalanda University have burned for three months after the invaders set fire to it. Our guide showed us the various sections of the universities, the hostels, the classrooms, and the temples there. In the museum there we could see statues of the Buddha, various day-to-day used objects, images of Hindu gods and goddesses excavated from Nalanda. Our next drive was to Rajgir. Rajgir was the capital of the state of Magadha. The most popular tourist attraction here is the Vishwa Shanti Stupa, founded by a Buddhist organisation from Japan. This is the tallest peace Pagoda in the world standing tall at 400 meters and also has four statues of Lord Buddha on the four side-corners of the stupa. These four statues depict the four phases of life of Lord Buddha. The statues are made of gold. To reach the stupa we had to opt a cable car system. That was really adventurous. Our trip ended with that interesting rope way journey. These towns have various budget holiday rentals available for the travelers. I should say that everyone should visit these three places of Bihar atleast once in their lifetime.

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