Rajgir, meaning "The City of Kings," is a historic town in the district of Nalanda in Bihar, India. As the ancient seat and capital of the Haryanka dynasty, the Pradyota dynasty, the Brihadratha dynasty and the Mauryan Empire, as well as the dwelling ground of such historical figures as The Buddha and The Mahavira, the city holds a place of prominence in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain scriptures. As of 2011, the population of the town was reported to be 41,000 while the population in the community development block was about 88,500.

Town, Historical locality
Rajgir hills
Peace pagoda
Vulture's peak
Ghora Katora Lake
Jain temple, Rajgir
From top, left to right: View of Rajgir hills, Vishwa Shanti Stupa (peace pagoda), Vulture Peak, Ghora Katora lake, Naulakha Jain Temple
Interactive map of Rajgir
Coordinates: 25°1′48″N 85°25′12″E / 25.03000°N 85.42000°E / 25.03000; 85.42000
Country India
Ward19 wards
Founded≈2000 BC
Founded bySamrat Brihadratha
 (2015) [A 1]
 • Total111.39 km2 (43.01 sq mi)
 • Town61.6 km2 (23.8 sq mi)
 • Regional planning517 km2 (200 sq mi)
73 m (240 ft)
 • Rajgir (NP)
 • Rajgir (CD Block)
Time zoneUTC+5:30 (IST)
Telephone code+91-6112
Vehicle registrationBR-21
Sex ratio1000/889 /
Lok Sabha constituencyNalanda
Vidhan Sabha constituencyRajgir (SC) (173)
  1. ^ Constituents of Rajgir Regional Planning area are CD blocks of Rajgir, Silao, Giriak and Katrisarai[1]

Rajgir was the first capital of the ancient kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire.[3] It finds mention in India's renowned literary epic, the Mahabharata, through its king Jarasandha. The town's date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have been found in the city. The 2,500-year-old cyclopean wall is also located in the region.

The town is also notable in Jainism and Buddhism.[4] It was the birthplace of the 20th Jain Tirthankar Munisuvrata, and is closely associated with the Mahavira and Gautama Buddha.[5] Both Mahavira and Buddha taught their beliefs in Rajgir during the 6th and 5th century BC, and the Buddha was offered a forest monastery here by the king Bimbisara. As such, the city of Rajgir became one of the Buddha's most important preaching locations.

The ancient Nalanda university was located in the vicinity of Rajgir, and the contemporary Nalanda University named after it was founded in 2010 nearby. The town is also famed for its natural springs and towering hills that dominate the landscape.

Etymology edit

The name Rajgir (Sanskrit Rājagṛha, Pali: Rajagriha), literally meaning "royal mountain" comes from the historic Rājagṛiha, meaning "house of the king" or "royal house".[6][7] It has also historically been known as Vasumati, Brahdrathapura, Grivraja/Girivraja and Kusagrapura.[6][8] Girivraja means an enclosure of hills.[8]

History edit

Jarasandha's Akhara

The epic Mahabharata calls it Girivraja and recounts the story of its king, Jarasandha, and his battle with the Pandava brothers and their allies Krishna.[9][10] Mahabharata recounts a wrestling match between Bhima (one of the Pandavas) and Jarasandha, the then king of Magadha. Jarasandha was invincible as his body could rejoin any dismembered limbs. According to the legend, Bhima split Jarasandha into two and threw the two halves facing opposite to each other so that they could not join. There is a famous Jarasandha's Akhara (the place where martial arts are practised).

Rajgir was the capital of Haryanka dynasty kings Bimbisara (558–491 BC) and Ajatashatru (492–460 BC). Ajatashatru kept his father Bimbisara in captivity here. The sources do not agree on which of the Buddha's royal contemporaries, Bimbisara and Ajatashatru, was responsible for its construction. It was the ancient capital city of the Magadha kings until the 5th century BC when Udayin (460–440 BC), son of Ajatashatru, moved the capital to Pataliputra (modern Patna).[6] Shishunaga (413-395 BC) founded Shishunaga dynasty in 413 BC with Rajgir as its initial capital before it was moved to Pataliputra.

It is associated with the founders of both the religions: Jainism and Buddhism, associated with both the historical Arihant Shraman Bhagawan Mahavira and Buddha.

Gautama Buddha spent a substantial amount of time here.

It was here that Gautama Buddha spent several months meditating, and preaching at Gridhra-kuta, ('Hill of the Vultures').It was also the relaxing place of him in Venuban which is a government owned tourist place now. He also delivered some of his famous sermons and initiated king Bimbisara of Magadha and others to Buddhism. It was here that Budhha delivered his famous Atanatiya Sutra. On one of the hills is the Saptaparni Cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa.

Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara spent fourteen years of his life at Rajgir and Nalanda, spending Chaturmas (i.e. 4 months of the rainy season) at a single place in Rajgir (Rajgruhi) and the rest in the places in the vicinity. It was the capital of one of his Shravaks (follower) King Shrenik. Thus Rajgir is also of religious importance to Jains. The twentieth Jain Tirthankara, Munisuvrata is supposed to have been born here. An ancient temple (about 1200 years old) dedicated to Munisuvrat Bhagwan is also present here along with many other Jain temples. This temple is also a place for four Kalyanakas of Bhagwan Munisuvratnath.

The historic locality is surrounded by the Rajgir hills and remains of cyclopean walls.

It is also mentioned in Jain and Buddhist scriptures, which give a series of place-names, but without geographical context. The attempt to locate these places is based largely on reference to them and to other locations in the works of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, particularly Faxian and Xuanzang. It is on the basis of Xuanzang in particular that the site is divided into Old and New Rajgir. The former lies within a valley and is surrounded by low-lying hills, Rajgir Hills. It is defined by an earthen embankment (the Inner Fortification), with which is associated the Outer Fortification, a complex of cyclopean walls that runs (with large breaks) along the crest of the hills. New Rajgir is defined by another, larger, embankment outside the northern entrance of the valley and next to the modern town.

Geography and climate edit

The modern town is situated close to the Rajgir hills while the valley is surrounded by seven hills: Vaibhara, Ratna, Saila, Sona, Udaya, Chhatha, and Vipula. River Panchane flows through the outskirts of the town.

  • Summer temperature: maximum 44 °C (111.2 °F), minimum 20 °C (68 °F)
  • Winter temperature: maximum 28 °C (82.4 °F), minimum 6 °C (42.8 °F)
  • Rainfall: 1,860 mm (mid-June to mid-September)
  • Dry/warm season: March to October

Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary edit

The landscape of Rajgir or Pant WLS is uneven terrain enclosed by five hills; Ratnagiri, Vipulgiri, Vaibhagiri, Songiri and Udaygiri. It is situated in Nalanda Forest Division covering an area of 35.84 km2 under the Nalanda district administration. This wildlife sanctuary, notified in 1978, represents a remnant patch of forests nestled in the Rajgir hills within the south Gangetic Plain.[11]

It is home to a number of wild animals including: mammals – blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus), chital or spotted deer (Axis axis), Indian crested porcupine (Hystrix indica), small Indian civet (Viverricula indica), jungle cat (Felis chaus); birds – painted spurfowl (Galloperdix lunulata), Eurasian thick knee (Burhinus oedicnemus), painted sandgrouse (Pterocles indicus); reptiles and amphibians – Bengal monitor (Varanus bengalensis), Indian bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus), Jerdon's bullfrog (Hoplobatrachus crassus), ornate narrow-mouthed frog (Microhyla ornata), and Indian tree frog (Polypedates maculatus).[12]

Demographics edit

According to 2011 Indian Census, Rajgir had a total population of 41,587, of which 21,869 were males and 19,718 were females. The population within the age group of 0 to 6 years was 6,922. The total number of literates in Rajgir was 24,121, which constituted 58.0% of the population with male literacy of 65.4% and female literacy of 49.8%. The effective literacy rate of the 7+ population of Rajgir was 69.6%, of which the male literacy rate was 78.1% and the female literacy rate was 60.1%. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes population was 11,724 and 42 respectively. Rajgir had 7030 households in 2011.[2]

Tourism edit

Boar's Cave

The main tourist attractions include the ancient city walls from Ajatashatru's period, Bimbisar's Jail, Jarasandh's Akhara, Gridhra-kuta, ('Hill of the Vultures'), Son Bhandar Caves[13] and the Jain temples on the five peaks.[14]

Closeup of Buddha at Vishwa Shanti Stupa

Another major attraction is the peace pagoda, Vishwa Shanti Stupa, built-in 1969, one of the 80 peace pagodas in the world, to spread the message of peace and non-violence. It is the oldest peace pagoda in India. The rope-way that leads to it is another attraction, which was gifted by Japanese spiritual leader Fuji Guruji in the 1960s.

Rope way from the 1960s

A new rope way has been planned.[15]

Rajgir has hot water springs, locally known as Brahmakund, a sacred place for Hindus where water from seven different springs (Saptarshi) merge and is notable for its healing effects.[16][17]

There is a Japanese temple beside the Venu Vana, an artificial forest with historical associations to Buddha and the kings of the region. Other places of interest include the Rajgir Heritage Museum,[18] the Sariputta Stupa,[19] Ghora Katora Lake, and the Rajgir glass bridge.[20]

The Son Bhandar Caves (Caddy 1895)

The Son Bhandar caves are situated in Rajgir. The caves are concerned with Jainism and are considered to belong to 3–4 century AD. After Cunningham's inspection, several scholars visited this place and some had opinions to concern with Buddhism. After some time all Buddhism connections were refused because of an inscription found on the southern wall of a cave. According to this inscription these caves were built by inspiration of a Jain Muni Vair for Jain ascetics. Sculptures of Teerthankaras were also carved in these caves. From an architectural aspect; these caves are analogous to Nagarjuni cave and Barabar Caves caves of Mauryan era. Therefore, it can be concluded that construction time should not differ much from the above-mentioned caves.

These caves should be related to Digambar sect of Jainism as Xuanzang wrote in his book about Vaibhar Hill of Rajgir that the place was occupied by Digambar Jain monks for meditation purposes. After some centuries these caves were converted by Hindus as Vishnu sculpture was also found from the mound of a cave.[14]

Makhdum Kund, also recognised as Dargah-e-Makhdoomiya is a sacred site situated in Rajgir. Renowned for its thermal spring and the tomb of Makhdoom Syed Ghulam Ali, as well as the prayer space of Sharfuddin Yahya Maneri, it holds significance for pilgrims and visitors alike. The thermal spring, dating back approximately 800 years, attracts numerous visitors who utilise it for ablution (Wudu) and bathing purposes.[21] The Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar also took bath here in his childhood.[22][23]

Transportation edit

Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides travel facility from state capital Patna to visit Bodh circuit (Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Kesaria, Lumbini, Kushinagar, Sarnath), Jain Circuit (Rajgir, Pawapuri) and Sikh Circuit in Bihar.

  • Air: The nearest is Gaya International Airport, Gaya which is 78 km which is connected to International Destinations like Bangkok, Columbo, etc. Another airport is at Patna 101 km. Air India, Indigo, Jet Airways and Go Air connect Patna to Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Ranchi and Lucknow.
  • Rail: Rajgir railway station connects the city to other parts of country yet the nearest convenient railhead is at Gaya Junction railway station 78 km. The Bakhtiyarpur-Gaya line provides improved rail connectivity to many places. It is one of the destinations of the prestigious Buddhist pilgrimage train of Indian Railways-Mahaparinirvan Express.
  • Road: Rajgir is connected by road to Patna – 110 km, Nalanda – 12 km, Gaya – 78 km, Pawapuri – 19 km, Bihar Sharif – 25 km, etc. NH 120, transverses the city of Rajgir, connecting it with Bodhgaya, Gaya, Nalanda, Bihar Sharif and further to Patna. State Highway 71 also passes through Rajgir connecting it with Giriyak, Islampur and Jahanabad.
  • Bus: Regular buses are available from all the above said points to Rajgir.
  • Local Transport: Taxis and Buses and Tongas are available.

Economy edit

Located in Patna division, this Nagar Panchayat type of municipal council mainly depends upon tourism and is supplemented by agriculture. A number of resorts and hotels are located in Rajgir to serve the tourists. In addition, Rajgir is located near the tourist spots like Nalanda, Pawapuri and Kundalpur.

Rajgir ranks top in Bihar, in reference to revenue collected by tourism.

  • An ordinance factory for defence forces is located in the city.[24]
  • Rajgir is also home to Bihar Police Academy.
  • RTC CRPF – Rajgir is also home to the Recruit Training centre of the Central Reserve Police Force for three states namely Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
  • Government of Bihar has acquired 100 acres of land to build an IT city near Nalanda university and also develop India's first multimedia hub which will provide advanced courses in different spheres of IT.[25]
  • Rajgir Film City is an integrated film studio complex. Spread over 20 acres, it is the second largest integrated film city in Bihar. It is being built by the Bihar government since 2017.[26][27]

Sports edit

Nalanda International Cricket Stadium is a proposed cricket stadium in the city. In 2013, it was announced by the Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar that an international cricket stadium will be constructed at Rajgir in Bihar's Nalanda district.[28][29]

Nalanda University edit

Nalanda University, a modern university that is based on the famous university and Buddhist monastery of ancient India, has been established with its campus in Rajgir. It began its first academic session on 1 September 2014.

Events edit

  • Rajgir Mahotsav
  • Purushottam Maas Mela
  • Sariputta World Peace Walk
  • Makar Sankranti Mela

Notable people edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "पत्रांक-213 : राजगीर क्षेत्रीय आयोजना क्षेत्र एवं बोधगया आयोजना क्षेत्र के सीमांकन एवं घोषणा" (PDF). Urban Development Housing Dept., Government of Bihar, Patna. 15 April 2015. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 June 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Census of India: Rajgir". www.censusindia.gov.in. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  3. ^ "Rajgir". BSTDC. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  4. ^ Jain Dharma ka Maulik Itihas Part-1, Ed. Acharya Shri Hastimalji Maharaj, 1971 p. 739-742
  5. ^ "Rajgir – The Abode of Kings". Times Travel. The Times of India. 31 March 2014.
  6. ^ a b c W. Vivian De Thabrew (2013). Monuments and Temples of Orthodox Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka. AuthorHouse. p. 35. ISBN 9781481795517. Archived from the original on 29 November 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2016.
  7. ^ Law 1938, p. 1.
  8. ^ a b Narayan 1983, p. 91.
  9. ^ See Bhagavata Purana, 10.70.30
  10. ^ "Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead". Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2008.
  11. ^ Sharma, Gopal; Kumar, Rahul (May 2017). "Butterfly diversity of Pant Wildlife Sanctuary, Rajgir (Bihar), India". Bioglobal. 4 (1): 39–46.
  12. ^ "Report of the officer in charge of the Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary" (PDF).
  13. ^ Middle Land, Middle Way: A Pilgrim's Guide to the Buddha's India, Shravasti Dhammika, Buddhist Publication Society, 1992 p. 98
  14. ^ a b History behind Son Bhandar cave of Rajgir. Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine  – JainGlory.com
  15. ^ Dutta, Prabhash K. (5 September 2018). "Rajgir: Bihar's highest revenue earning tourist destination is a story of neglect". India Today. Retrieved 29 March 2022.
  16. ^ Kishore Sharma, Jugal (February 2014). Punya Bhoomi Bharat. Suruchi Prakashan. p. 70. ISBN 978-9381500095.
  17. ^ "गर्म पानी के इस कुंड में नहाने से होती है सभी बीमारिया दूर". News Track. 11 February 2017. Archived from the original on 19 April 2018. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  18. ^ "Rajgir Heritage Museum inaugurated by CM Nitish Kumar". 8 September 2013. Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013.
  19. ^ Sinha, Shashank Shekhar (1 April 2018). "The Lesser Known Journey of Buddhist Relics - from India to UK and Back". The Wire. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  20. ^ "Rajgir in Bihar now has a 200-ft glass bridge, set to open on New Year which is located in the nature safari". Times of India. 20 December 2020.
  21. ^ "Water is not for all". www.downtoearth.org.in. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  22. ^ "CM Nitish chastised Makhudam Saheb said In his childhood he has bathed in the pond here | CM नीतीश ने मखुदम साहब को की चादरपोशी, कहा- बचपन में यहां के कुंड में किया है स्नान | Hindi News, बिहार एवं झारखंड". zeenews.india.com. Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  23. ^ "नीतीश ने गुरुद्वारा नानक देव और शीतलकुंड एवं मखदूम कुंड का दौरा किया". Navbharat Times (in Hindi). Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  24. ^ "Ordnance Factory Rajgir". Press Information Bureau, Government of India. 15 July 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  25. ^ "23rd February 2002: When Gilchrist Hit a Record-breaking Double Ton". News18. 23 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Bihar to get two film cities". The Hindu. 4 July 2014. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  27. ^ Choudhary, Neena (12 December 2015). "Shatrughan Sinha's Dream Comes True, Bihar Gets its Own Film City". TheQuint. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  28. ^ Sengupta, Joy (2 August 2014). "Land in Rajgir for cricket stadium on Ranchi model". Telegraph India. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  29. ^ "Bihar to construct world class cricket stadium". Zee News. 11 December 2013. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 January 2020.

Further reading edit

External links edit