Bihar (बिहार) is a state situated in the eastern part of India. Its capital is Patna.
It is bordered on the north by the Kingdom of Nepal, on the west by Uttar Pradesh, south by Jharkhand, and the east by West Bengal. Bihar lies in the very fertile Gangetic plains, and is part of the Hindi-speaking heartland of India.
Bihar has many local languages, including Hindi, Bhojpuri, and Magadhi (Magahi). Bhojpuri, Magahi, and related languages are known as the Bihari languages.
Bihar has a very rich history. It was called Magadha in ancient days. Its capital Patna, known as Pataliputra during the old days, was the center of the Mauryan empire which ruled the Indian subcontinent between 325-185 BC. Emperor Ashoka was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next thousand years before its fall started with the advent of the foreign rule in India. Bihar saw a brief period of glory for six years during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who was from Sasaram and built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road, which starts from Calcutta and ends at Peshawar, Pakistan.
During the previous millennium, Bihar had many world famous universities. Nalanda and Vikramshila were the most famous ones.
A brief timeline -
Before 325 BC - Nanda clan in Magadha, Lichchavis in Vaishali
560 BC - 480 BC - Buddha
325 BC - 185 BC - Maurya Dynasty
250 BC - 3rd Buddhist Council
185 BC - 80 BC - Sunga Dynasty
80 BC - 240 AD - Regional kings
240 AD - 600 AD - Gupta Dynasty
600 AD - 650 AD - Harshavardhana
750 AD - 1200 AD - Pala Dynasty
1200 AD - Muslim Ghauris destroy the universities at Nalanda and Vikramashila
1200 AD - 1250 AD - Decline of Buddhism
1250 AD - 1526 AD - Ruled by Delhi Sultanate (Muslim Turks - Tughluqs, Sayyids, Lodis)
1540 AD - 1555 AD - Suris (including Shershah Suri who built the Grand Trunk Road)
1526 AD - 1757 AD - Mughal Dynasty
1757 AD - 1947 AD - British Imperial Rule
1947 AD - 2000 AD - State of Bihar
2000 AD - Divided into two states - north part remained Bihar, South became Jharkhand
Religions Originated from State
Bihar is also a birthplace of many religions, including Buddhism and Jainism. The Word "Bihar" has its origin in the word "Vihara" meaning Buddhist Monasteries. Buddha attained the Enlightenment at Censored page, a town located in the modern day district of Censored page. Buddha started spreading his teaching after attaining the Enlightenment at Censored page. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was born in Vaishali , Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi started the freedom movement in India by his Satyagraha in the Champaran district of Bihar against the British, who were forcing the local farmers to plant indigo which was very harmful to the local soil.
Bihar has two airports - Patna and Censored page. Patna airport is a domestic airport connected directly to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. Gaya airport is a small international airport connected by Indian airlines to Kolkata and Bangkok.
Bihar is very well connected by rail lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected and also directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna and Censored page are the best connected towns.
Roads are not in good condition, so it is better to avoid them if possible.
For Buddhist pilgrims, best option is to go directly to Censored page, either by air or train, and then travel to Censored page, Nalanda, Rajgir, Sarnath, etc.
Places to See
- For Buddhists - Censored page, Nalanda, Rajgir.
- For Jains - Vaishali and Pawapuri .
- For Sikhs - Har Mandir Sahib, Patna City, the birth place of Guru Govind Singh.
- For Hindus - The Pind-dan at Censored page, Baidyanath Dham, Tara Mandir at Mahisi, etc.
- For Muslims - Bihar-E-Sharif
- For history buffs - Patna, Censored page, Censored page, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali , Pawapuri , Champaran , Sasaram , etc..
Bihar has a very well developed cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language, spoken mainly in the central and western Bihar. There is a small Maithili film industry also.
Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, like marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of any musical instruments.
Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs, filled with fun beats.
During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar further worsened after the British loot and misrule, a lot of Biharis had to migrate as indentured labourers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time a lot of sad plays and songs became very popular in Bhojpur area and still some dramas on that theme are played in the theaters of Patna.
Bihar produced a lot of great Hindi poets and novelists during and immediately after the independence movement. Dinkar, Nirala, Benipuri, and many others wrote important pieces of Hindi literature.
Different local languages also produced some prominent poets and authors. Vidyapati , the most famous of all Bihari poets, was a great Maithili poet.
- Chhat - is a major festival in Bihar. It is worship of Sun.
It is mildly cold in the winter (worst it could get is 5-10 degrees Celsius). Winter months are December and January. It is very hot in the summer (40-45 degrees). April, May and first half of June are the hot months. Then comes the monsoon in the months of June, July, August, and September. October, November, February, and March are very pleasant months.
Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile land. It has many rivers including Ganga, Son, Bagmati, Kosi , Budhi Gandak , Falgu , etc. Southern part of Bihar has some small hills. Nepal is to the north of Bihar. To get to the Himalayas one will have to enter Nepal and travel for around 50-100kms.
See Districts in Bihar, India
After the division of the state in 2000, when the industrial and the mineral rich part of the state was carved out as a separate state of Jharkhand, the main economic activity of the state has been agriculture. Bihar is one of the poorest state of India. Blames for this are put on many factors - a historical disfavour from the center of Indian power (be it Calcutta during the British empire or Delhi during the independent India), a deeply polarized and highly politicized society, power hungry and corrupt rulers, lack of social reform movements, etc.
Colleges and Universities
Patna University is the most prominent university. Science College , Patna College (for liberal arts), Patna Medical College , etc. are the better known colleges of this university.
There are three good state run engineering colleges -
Patna Engineering College , part of Patna University
Bhagalpur College of Engineering
Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology
Bihar has a system of districts schools, called Zila schools. They are located in each district headquarters. There are a lot of state run Navodaya schools also. In early eighties, the state government also took over a lot of privately run schools, and gave them government recognitions. There are many such schools throughout the state with different names. Central government also runs a lot of Central schools for the wards of its employees. Delhi Public School, a chain of schools, is also opening a lot of schools in various town of Bihar. There are a few christian missionary run schools also in the state. Schools generally follow one of these three high school systems - Bihar School Secondary Board, CBSE or ICSE. ICSE schools (there are not many of these in Bihar) follow English medium education, while the other two can follow Hindi medium education.
List of political parties in the state
- Website of government of Bihar http://bihar.nic.in/
- Districts of Bihar http://bihar.nic.in/Governance/Districts.htm
- History of Bihar http://bihar.nic.in/Profile/History.htm
- A collection of news items about Bihar http://www.bihartimes.com
- A web site about Bihar http://www.bihar.com
Last updated: 01-28-2005 06:35:46