Rajgir, in district Nalanda, is a great holy place of the Buddhists. It is the ancient Rajagriha or Girivraja, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Magadha. During the days of Mahavira and Buddha, who visited it very often, it was a very flourishing city. It was the venue of the 1st Buddhist Council held immediately after the Nirvana of Buddha, during the time of king Ajatshatru.
The ruin of Rajgir, which have been partly excavated, cover an extensive area with in and outside the hill enclosure and include the ancient defenses and remains of habitations, shrines, stupas and monasteries. A monastery with large elliptical halls has been recently excavated and identified as Jeevak Amravan, mentioned in the Buddhist texts as a favorite retreat of Buddha.
About 10km from the railway station is Gridhakuta (Vulture's Peak), the hill from where Gautama Buddha delivered many sermons, after he attained enlightenment. It was here that the Buddha delivered two important sutras - the Lotus Sutra and the Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom Sutra).
Vishwa Shanti Stupa:
To mark the holy spot at the Gridhakuta Hill, there stands today the 38m high Vishwa Shanti Stupa. The awesome modern stupa can be reached by a chairlift, a fifteen-minute round trip offering panoramic views.
The ruins of a fort built by the king of Magadha, Ajatashatru, can be seen here. Built in the 6th century, it was within these high walls that he imprisoned his father, Bimbisara. Archaeologists have discovered the remains of Ajatshatru Stupa, which enshinres Magadha's share of the Buddha's relics.
Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:
This pink-hued temple stands beside the hot springs and, as the name indicates, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and his consort, Goddess Lakshmi.
It is a Japanese shrine where a monastery was built for the Buddha to live. It is said that king Bimbisara as an offering to the Buddha, built Venuvana or the Monastery of the Bamboo Grove. Right next to it is the now-muddy water tank, Karanda, in which the Buddha bathed.
Gushing from the base of the Vaibhava Hill are the seven hot springs, called Saptadhara, that attract the religious as well as the sick. The hottest of these sulphur springs is the Brahmakund, where the water is a steaming 45 degrees centigrade. It is believed that the Buddha used its waters to heal the ill and the infirm.
Pawapuri is held in great reverence by the Jains as Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was cremated here in 500BC. Jal Mandir, the white marble temple in the middle of this lake, blooming with beautiful lotus flowers affords a breathtakingly enchanting sight.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Nearest airport is at Patna.
Rail: Nearest railhead is Gaya.
Road: There are good road links to Gaya and Nalanda.