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The Mahabodhi Temple, among the four holy sites related to the life of the Lord Buddha and UNESCO World Heritage Site[1]
Location of Bihar in India
Coordinates 25°22′N 85°08′E / 25.37°N 85.13°E / 25.37; 85.13
Country  India
Region Angika Region, Bhojpuri Region, Magadh Region, Mithila Region
Division Patna, Tirhut, Saran, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Munger, Magadha
District(s) 38
Bihar 1912
Capital Patna
Largest city Patna
Largest metro Patna
Governor Devanand Konwar
Chief Minister Nitish Kumar
Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi
Legislature (seats) Bicameral (243 + 96)
Parliamentary constituency parliamentary constituencies in Bihar
High Court Patna High Court
District Courts of India
82998,509[2] (3rd)
880 /km2 (2,279 /sq mi)[2]
Sex ratio 108.8 /
• Male
• Female
• 59.7%
• 33.1%
Official languages Hindi, English, Urdu, Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
Area 99200 km2 (38301 sq mi)
• Summer
• Winter
ETh (Köppen)
     1,200 mm (47.2 in)
     27 °C (81 °F)
     34 °C (93 °F)
     10 °C (50 °F)
Governing body Government of India, Government of Bihar
ISO 3166-2 IN.BR
Bihar Portal: Bihar  
Seal of Bihar

Bihar (Hindi: बिहार, Urdu: بہار, pronounced [bɪˈhaːr]  ( listen)) is a state in eastern India.[1][2] Bihar is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi (99,200 km²) and 3rd largest by population. But close to 85 percent of the population lives in villages. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below the age of 25,[3] which is the highest proportion in India.

Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengal in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradesh in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by the country of Nepal to the north and by Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent [4] of its geographical area. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languagesAngika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi or Maithili.

Ancient Bihar (which consisted of Anga (East Bihar), Videha (North Bihar), Magadha (South Bihar) and Vaishali (North Bihar))[5] was a center of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From Magadha arose India's first greatest empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism.[6] Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.[7] Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important center of Indian civilization. Nalanda was a centre of learning established by the 5th century CE in Bihar.

Today, Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human [8] and economic development terms,[9][10][11] Economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government, such as the freight equalisation policy,[12][13] its apathy towards Bihar,[3][14][15] lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state),[13][16][17] and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company.[13] The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance.[18] The improved governance has led to an economic revival[19] in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.[20][21] Indian[22] and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity for sustainable economic development, and as such have shown interest in investing in the state.[23][24]


Etymology of the name

The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit word Vihara [25] (Devanagari: विहार), which means "abode". The word Vihār is itself derived from the word Brahmavihāra[26] meaning “Brahma abidings”, or "Sublime attitudes."[27] The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, which were the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval period.


Gautama Buddha undertaking extreme ascetic practices before his enlightenment on the bank of river Falgu in Bodh Gaya, Bihar.

A part of Bihar was called "Magadha" in ancient times. From Magadha arose two traditions, Jainism and Buddhism. The greatest Indian empire, the Maurya empire, originated from Magadha, with its capital at Patliputra (modern Patna) in 325 BC. The Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, who was born in Patliputra ( Patna ) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of India and the world. After seeing all the carnage that war causes he was placed on the path of Lord Buddha by his Brahmin spiritual guide Manjushri.[28][29] According to indologist A.L. Basham, the author of the book The Wonder that was India,

The age in which true history appeared in India was one of great intellectual and spiritual ferment. Mystics and sophists of all kinds roamed through the Ganga Valley, all advocating some form of mental discipline and asceticism as a means to salvation; but the age of the Buddha, when many of the best minds were abandoning their homes and professions for a life of asceticism, was also a time of advance in commerce and politics. It produced not only philosophers and ascetics, but also merchant princes and men of action.[30]

Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. The Gupta Empire, which again originated from Magadha in 240 CE, is referred to as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and Indian philosophy. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors. Historians place the Gupta dynasty alongside with the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Roman Empire as a model of a classical civilization. The capital of Gupta empire was Pataliputra, present day Patna. The Vikramshila and Nalanda universities were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India. Some writers believe the period between the 400 CE and 1000 CE saw gains by Hinduism at the expense of Buddhism.[31][32][33][34] Although the Hindu kings gave much grants to the Buddhist monks for building Brahmaviharas. A National Geographic edition[35] reads, "The essential tenets of Buddhism and Hinduism arose from similar ideas best described in the Upanishads, a set of Hindu treatises set down in India largely between the eighth and fourth centuries B.C."

The Buddhism of Magadha was swept away by the Muslim invasion under Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred in 12th century CE. [36] [37] [38] [39]

The region saw a brief period of glory for six years (1540 -1546 CE) during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road. The economic reforms carried out by Sher Shah, like the introduction of Rupee and Custom Duties, is still used in the Republic of India. He revived the city of Patna, where he built up his headquarter.[40][41] During 1557-1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire.[42] With the decline of the Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal. Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence.

The tenth and the last human Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna. After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa.

Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India's First War of Independence (1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the struggle for India's independence.

Rajendra Prasad (Sitting left) & Anugrah Narayan Sinha (sitting right) during 1917 Satyagraha movement

It was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi launched his pioneering civil-disobedience movement, Champaran Satyagraha. Bhumihar Brahmins in Champaran had earlier revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914 (at Pipra) and 1916 (Turkaulia) and Pandit Raj Kumar Shukla took Mahatma Gandhi to Champaran and the Champaran Satyagraha began.[43] Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters.Champaran Satyagraha received the spontaneous support from many Bihari nationalists like Rajendra Prasad who became the first President of India and Anugrah Narayan Sinha who ultimately became the first Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.[44]

In North and Central Bihar, peasants movement was an important side effect of the freedom movement. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929 the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS) in order to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights.[45] Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India. All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President.[46] This movement aimed at overthrowing the feudal (zamindari) system instituted by Britishers. It was being led by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati and his followers Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Rahul Sankrityayan, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Baba Nagarjun and others. Pandit Yamuna Karjee along with Rahul Sankritayan and a few others started publishing a Hindi weekly Hunkar from Bihar, in 1940. Hunkar later became the mouthpiece of the peasant movement and the agrarian movement in Bihar and was instrumental in spreading the movement.

Bihar's contribution in the Indian freedom struggle has been immense with outstanding leaders like Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sri Krishna Sinha, Dr.Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Brajkishore Prasad, Mulana Mazharul Haque, Jayaprakash Narayan, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Basawon Singh, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, Yogendra Shukla, Baikuntha Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, Pandit Yamuna Karjee and many others who worked for India's freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses.[47] Khudiram Bose, Upendra Narayan Jha "Azad", Prafulla Chaki and Baikuntha Shukla were active in revolutionary movement in Bihar.

On January 15, 1934, Bihar was devastated by an earthquake of magnitude 8.4. Some 30,000 people were said to have died.

The state of Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in the year 2000.[48] 2005 Bihar assembly elections ended the 15 years of continuous RJD rule in the state, giving way to NDA led by Nitish Kumar. Bihari migrant workers have faced violence and prejudice in many parts of India, like Maharashtra, Punjab and Assam.[49][50][51]

Geography and climate

Flooded farmlands in northern Bihar


Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It is drained by the Ganges River, including northern tributaries Gandak and Koshi originating in the Nepal Himalayas and the Bagmati originating in the Kathmandu Valley that regularly flood parts of the Bihar plains. The total area covered by the state of Bihar is 94,163 km². the state is located between 21°-58'-10" N ~ 27°-31'-15" N latitude and between 82°-19'-50" E ~ 88°-17'-40" E longitude. Its average elevation above sea level is 173 feet (53 m). The Bihar plain is divided into two unequal halves by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east. Other Ganges tributaries are the Son, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Falgu. The Himalayas begin at foothills a short distance inside Nepal but influence Bihar's landforms, climate, hydrology and culture. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. The Himalayan Mountains are to the north of Bihar, in Nepal. To the south is the Chota Nagpur plateau, which was part of Bihar until 2000 but now is part of a separate state called Jharkhand. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent [4] of its geographical area.


Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius; 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (with average highs around 35-40 Celsius; 95-105 Fahrenheit). April to mid June are the hot months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October & November and February & March have pleasant climate.

Flora and fauna

Peepal tree (The Bodhi Tree at the Mahabodhi Temple is also Peepal tree)'
Bauhinia acuminata locally knowns as Kachnaar

Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area.[4] The sub Himalayan foothill of Someshwar and Dun ranges in Champaran district another belt of moist deciduous forests. These also consists of scrub, grass and reeds. Here the rainfall is above 1,600 mm and thus promotes luxuriant Sal forests in the favoured areas. The hot and dry summer gives the deduous forests. The most important trees are Shorea Robusta (Sal), Shisham, Cedrela Toona, Khair, and Semal. This type of forests also occurs in Saharsa district and Purnia district.[52] Shorea Robusta (sal), Dispyros melanoxylon (kendu), Boswellia serrata (salai), Terminalia tomentose (Asan), Terminalia bellayoica (Bahera), Terminalia Arjuna (Arjun), Pterocarpus Marsupium (Paisar), Madhuca indica (Mahua) are the common flora across the forest of Bihar.

The Ganges River dolphin, or “sois” occur in the Ganga and Brahmaputra,it is the national aquatic animal of India. It can now be considered amongst the most endangered mammals of the region.They ranges from 2.3 to 2.6 meters in length.They have very impaired vision due to Muddy water but uses sonar efficiency.Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary ,near Bhagalpur is setup to ensure protection of this species.

Valmiki National Park, West Champaran district, covering about 800 km² of forest, is the 18th Tiger Reserve of India and is ranked fourth in terms of density of tiger population.[53] It has diverse landscapes, sheltering rich wildlife habitats and floral and faunal composition, with the prime protected carnivores.


Bihar is the third most populated state of India with total population of 82,998,509 (43,243,795 male and 39,754,714 female).[55][56] Nearly 90 per cent of Bihar's population lives in rural areas. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below 25 years age, which is highest in India. Hinduism is practiced by 83.2% of the population and forms the majority religion in the state.[57] Islam is practiced by 16.5% of the population, and other religions less than 0.5%.[57] Since ancient times Bihar has attracted migrants and settlers including Aryans, Bengalis, Turks from Central Asia, Persians, Afghans and Punjabi Hindu Refugees during the Partition of British India in 1947.[58] Bihar has a total literacy rate is 47% (59.7% for males 33.1% for females).[59]

                         Largest cities in Bihar
  City District Population     City District Population
1 Patna Patna 1,866,444 Patna
8 Munger Munger 188,050
2 Gaya Gaya 385,432 9 Chapra Saran 179,190
3 Bhagalpur Bhagalpur 340,767 10 Katihar Katihar 175,199
4 Muzaffarpur Muzaffarpur 305,525 11 Purnia Purnia 171,687
5 Darbhanga Darbhanga 267,348 12 Danapur Patna 131,176
6 Biharsarif Nalanda 232,071 13 Sasaram Rohtas 141,176
7 Ara Bhojpur 203,380 14 Dehri Rohtas 119,007
Source: Census of India 2001[60]

Government and administration

Vidhansabha Building, Patna
Bihar State Symbols [61]
State bird Coraciasbenghalensis.svg India roller
State animal GaurLyd2.png Gaur
State flower Bauhinia Acuminata.jpg Kanchnar
State tree Pipal.jpg Peepal

The constitutional head of the Government of Bihar is the Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. The real executive power rests with the Chief Minister and the cabinet. The political party or the coalition of political parties having a majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the Government.

The current incumbent, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, succeeded Rabri Devi, wife of the Former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav (also known as Laloo Prasad).

The head of the bureaucracy of the State is called the Chief Secretary. Under him is a hierarchy of officials drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and different wings of the State Civil Services. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice. Bihar has a High Court which has been functioning since 1916. All the branches of the government are located in the state capital, Patna.

The state is divided into 9 divisions and 38 districts, for administrative purposes. The various districts included in the divisions - Patna, Tirhut, Saran, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Munger and Magadh Division, are as listed below.

District map of Bihar
Division        Headquarters        Districts
Bhagalpur        Bhagalpur        Banka, Bhagalpur
Darbhanga        Darbhanga        Begusarai, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur
Kosi        Saharsa        Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul
Magadh        Gaya        Arwal, Aurangabad, Gaya, Jehanabad, Nawada
Munger        Munger        Jamui, Khagaria, Munger, Lakhisarai, Sheikhpura
Patna        Patna        Bhojpur, Buxar, Kaimur, Patna, Rohtas, Nalanda
Purnia        Purnia        Araria, Katihar, Kishanganj, Purnia
Saran        Chapra        Gopalganj, Saran, Siwan
Tirhut        Muzaffarpur        East Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Vaishali, West Champaran


See also: Political parties in Bihar
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, 1st President of India.
Dr Sri Krishna Sinha (Right) with Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha (Left) during swearing-in ceremony of independent Bihar's first government on 15th of August,1947
Jayaprakash Narayan called for Sampurna Kranti - total revolution - at a historic rally of students at Patna's Gandhi Maidan on the 5th of June, 1975.

Bihar was an important part of India's struggle for independence. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Raj kumar Shukla, he was supported by great illumanaries like Rajendra Prasad, Sri Krishna Sinha, Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad.

The first Bihar Government both in 1937 and 1946 was led by two eminent leaders Sri Babu (Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha) and Anugrah Babu (Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha) who were men of unimpeachable integrity and great public spirit.[62] They ran an exemplary government in Bihar[62].Bihar was rated as the best administered among the states in the country at that time.[63]

After independence also, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to hold elections came from Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan. The airport of Patna is also named after him. This resulted in two things:

  1. The identity of Bihar (from the word Vihar meaning monasteries) representing a glorious past was lost. Its voice often used to get lost in the din of regional clamor of other states, specially the linguistic states like Uttar pradesh, Madhya pradesh etc.
  2. Bihar gained an anti-establishment image. The establishment oriented press often projected the state as indiscipline and anarchy.

Since the regional identity was slowly getting sidelined , its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Kayastha, Rajput, Brahmin and Bhumihar Brahmins. After Independence the power was shared by the two great gandhians Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha who later became the first chief minister of Bihar and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha who decidedly was next to him in the cabinet and served as the first deputy chief minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.In late 60's death of late Mr. Lalit Narayan Mishra (who was killed by a hand grenade attack for which central leadership is blamed most of the time) pronounced the end of indigenous work oriented mass leaders. For two decades congress ruled the state with the help of puppet chief ministries hand in glove with the central government (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) ignoring the welfare of the people of the state. It was the time when a prominent leader like Satyendra Narayan Sinha took sides with the Janata Party and deserted congress from where his political roots originated, following the ideological differences with the congress. Idealism did assert itself in the politics from time to time, viz, 1977 when a wave defeated the entrenched Congress Party and then again in 1989 when Janata Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stranglehold of the status quoits under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha and Karpoori Thakur. Unfortunately, this could not flourish, partly due to the impractical idealism of these leaders and partly due to the machinations of the central leaders of the Congress Party who felt threatened by a large politically aware state. The Communist movement in Bihar was led by veteran communist leaders like the venerable Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Indradeep Sinha, Chandrashekhar Singh, Sunil Mukherjee, Jagannath Sarkar and others.[62]

Janata Dal came to power in the state in 1990 on the back of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Lalu Prasad Yadav became Chief Minister after winning the race of legislative party leadership by a slender margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party and close to eminent Janata Party leaders like Chandrashekhar and S N Sinha. Later, Lalu Prasad Yadav gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu Prasad Yadav was the uncrowned king by 1995 as both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a charismatic leader who had people's support and Bihar had got such a person as the chief minister after a long time. But he couldn't bring the derailed wagon of development of the state on to the track. When corruption charges got serious, he quit the post of CM but anointed his wife as the CM and ruled through proxy. In this period, the administration deteriorated fast. By 2004, 14 years after's Lalu's victory, The Economist magazine said that "Bihar [had] become a byword for the worst of India, of widespread and inescapable poverty, of corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons they patronise, caste-ridden social order that has retained the worst feudal cruelties".[64] In 2005, the World Bank believed that issues faced by the state was "enormous" because of "persistent poverty, complex social stratification, unsatisfactory infrastructure and weak governance".[65]

In 2005, as disaffection reached a crescendo among the masses, middle classes included, the RJD was voted out of power and Lalu Prasad Yadav lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar has regained Bihar's true identity, which is the place from where people who changed the world come like Gautam Buddha or Asoka or Sher Shah Suri or the Sikh Gurus. Despite the separation of financially richer Jharkhand, Bihar has actually seen more positive growth in recent years.

Currently, there are two main political formations: the NDA which comprises Janata Dal and Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led coalition which also has the Indian National Congress. There are myriad other political formations. Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party is a constituent of the UPA at the centre, but does not see eye to eye with Lalu Prasad Yadav's RJD in Bihar. Bihar People's Party is a small political formation in north Bihar. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, but is weakened now. CPM and Forward Bloc have minor presence. Ultra left parties like CPML, Party Unity etc have presence in pockets and are at war with the state.


Year Gross State Domestic Product
(millions of Indian Rupees)[66]
Bihar accounts for 65 per cent of India's annual litchi production.[68]
Farm workers in Bihar

The economy of Bihar is largely service oriented, but it also has a significant agricultural base. The state also has a small industrial sector. As of 2008, agriculture accounts for 35%, industry 9% and service 55% of the economy of the state.[69] Manufacturing has performed very poorly in the state between 2002–2007, with an average growth rate of 0.38% compared to India's 7.8%.[69] Bihar has the lowest GDP per capita in India, although there are pockets of higher than the average per capita income.[70] Between 1999 and 2008, GDP grew by 5.1% a year, which was below the Indian average of 7.3%.[71] More recently, Bihar's state GDP recorded a growth of 18% between 2006–2007, and stood at 942510 Crores Rupees[72] ($21 billion nominal GDP). This makes Bihar the fastest growing major state. In actual terms, Bihar state GDP is ranked 14th out of 28 states. Corruption is an import hurdle for the government to overcome according to Transparency International India, who highlighted Bihar as the Union's most corrupt state in a 2005 report. Despite many recent economic gains, significant challenges remain to do business in the state and the government has also stated that combating corruption is now the biggest challenge facing the administration.[73][74] Life expectancy in Bihar (61 years) which is almost on par with the national life expectancy of 62.7 years.[75]

A village market

Bihar has significant levels of production for the products of mango, guava, litchi, pineapple, brinjal, cauliflower, bhindi, and cabbage in India.[76] Despite the states leading role in food production, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been inadequate in the past. Historically, the sugar and vegetable oil industries were flourishing sectors of Bihar. Until the mid fifties, 25% of India's sugar output was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro - industrial town. There have been attempts to industrialize the state between 1950 and 1980: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, and a power plant at Muzaffarpur. However, these were forced to shut down due to central government policy which neutralized the strategic advantages of Bihar. Hajipur, near Patna, remains a major industrial town in the state, linked to the capital city through the Ganga bridge and good road infrastructure.

The state's debt was estimated at 77 per cent of GDP by 2007.[77] The Finance Ministry has given top priority to create investment opportunities for big industrial houses like Reliance. Further developments have taken place in the growth of small industries, improvements in IT infrastructure, the new software park in Patna, and the completion of the expressway from the Purvanchal border through Bihar to Jharkhand. In August 2008, a Patna registered company called the Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) India Limited[78] took over the Australian guard and mobile patrol services business of American conglomerate, United Technologies Corp (UTC). SIS is registered and taxed in Bihar.[79] The capital city, Patna, is one of the better off cities in India when measured by per capita income.[80]^

Demands for smaller states

Bihar was divided into 2 states, Jharkhand and Bihar in 2000, by the then BJP-led union government as mentioned in the BJP manifesto. There has been a demand for smaller states like Mithilanchal or Simanchal, but they have gained little support.


Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the ancient universities of Nalanda (established in 450 CE) and Vikramshila (established in 783 AD) [81]. Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when it is believed that marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these centers of learning.[82]

Bihar saw a revival of its education system during the later part of the British rule when they established Patna University (established in 1917) which is the seventh oldest university of the Indian subcontinent.[83] Some other centers of high learning established by the British rule are Patna College (established in 1839), Bihar School of Engineering (established in 1900; now known as National Institute of Technology, Patna), Prince of Wales Medical College (established in 1925; now Patna Medical College and Hospital), Science College, Patna (established in 1928) among others. After independence Bihar lost the pace in term of establishing center of education. Modern Bihar has a grossly inadequate educational infrastructure creating a huge mismatch between demand and supply. This problem further gets compounded by the growing aspirations of the people and an increase in population. The craving for higher education among the general population of Bihar has led to a massive migration of the student community from the state. This has prompted many students to seek educational opportunities in other states, such as New Delhi and Karnataka, even for graduation level college education.

Literacy Rate from 1951~2001[84]
Year Total Males Females
1951 13.49 22.68 4.22
1961 21.95 35.85 8.11
1971 23.17 35.86 9.86
1981 32.32 47.11 16.61
1991 37.49 51.37 21.99
2001 47.53 60.32 33.57

Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in India, with women's literacy being only 33.57%. At the time of independence women's literacy in Bihar was 4.22%. It is a pleasant surprise to find that in spite of the meagre investment on education in Bihar, specially compared to other Indian states, the students have done very well. Famed national institutes of learning such as IITs, IIMs, NITs and AIIMS have always have had a good representation from Bihar which is usually higher than their proportion of the population.Bihar has a National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Patna and an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)in Bihta near Patna. Other institutions of higher learning, and coveted positions in the government also show a greater share than the percentage of their population. A recent survey by Pratham[85] rated the absorption of their teaching by the Bihar children better than those in other states.

Bihar established several new education institutes between 2006-2008. BIT Mesra started its Patna extension centre in September 2006. On 8 August 2008 IIT of India was inaugurated in Patna with 109 students from all over India.[86] National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER)[87] is being set up in Hajipur. On 4 August 2008, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Patna was established as 9th NIFT of India.[88] Chanakya National Law University a law university and Chandragupt Institute of Management a management institute was established in later half of 2008.Steps to revive the ancient Nalanda University is being taken for which countries like Japan, Korea and China have also taken initiatives. The plan is to create the worlds best university in the place which introduced the concept of university to the world.

The absence rate of teachers in public schools in Bihar is 37.8%.[89][90]

Bihar e-Governance Services & Technologies(BeST) along with the Government of Bihar has initiated a unique program to establish a Centre of excellence called Bihar Knowledge Centre,a finishing school to equip students with the latest skills and customized short term training programs at an affordable cost. The centre aims to attract every youth of the state to hone up their technical, professional and soft skills and prepare them for the present industry requirement/ job market. [91]


Language and literature

Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages - Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili or Angika.Presently Bihari languages are considered one of the five subgroups of Hindi however Maithili was declared as a separate language. however, these are considered to be descendant of the language of the erstwhile Magadha kingdom - Magadhi Prakrit, along with Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya. However Bihari Hindi a slang form of Standard Hindi is used as a lingua franca and many speak it as their first language throughout state. A small minority also speaks Bengali mainly in big districts or along border area with West Bengal. Many Bengali speakers are generally people from West Bengal or Hindu people from erstwhile East Pakistan who came during partition of India in 1947.

Many people outside Bihar has wrong ideas that all of Bihar speaks Bhojpuri. It is the mostly spoken language, about 40% people speak Bhojpuri in Bihar and it is spoken only in western Bihar. The number of speakers of Bihari languages are difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language.[92]

In spite of the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, they have not been constitutionally recognized in India. Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar.[93] These languages was legally absorbed under the subordinate label of HINDI in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics are creating conditions for language endangerments.[94] The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the sole official language of the province. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region - Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950.[95] Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar on 16 August 1989.

Nagarjun, known as People's poet.

The relationship of Maithili community with Bhojpuri and Magahi communities – the immediate neighbors have been neither very pleasant nor very hostile. Maithili has been the only one among them which has been trying to constantly deny superimposition of Hindi over her identity. The other two have given up their claims and have resigned to accept the status of dialects of Hindi.

Bihar has produced a number of writers and scholars, including Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Ram Avatar Sharma, R. K. Sinha, Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksh Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', Pandit Nalin Vilochan Sharma, Gopal Singh "Nepali", Baba Nagarjun, Mridula Sinha, and Pankaj Rag. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, the great writer and Buddhist scholar, was born in U.P. but spent his life in the land of Lord Buddha, i.e., Bihar.Hrishikesh Sulabh is the prominent writer of the new generation. He is short story writer, playwright and theatre critic. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are the well-known poets. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the greatest writers in Bangla, resided for some time in Bihar. Of late, the latest Indian writer in English, Upamanyu Chatterjee also hails from Patna in Bihar. Devaki Nandan Khatri, who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century on account of his novels such as Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar. Vidyapati Thakur is the most renowned poet of Maithili (c. 14-15th century).Dr Birbal Jha has created a movement for English teaching and learning in the state.To his credit he has more than 25 books on the English language and the general interest of students and teaching fraternity. His book" Spoken English Kit sells like a hot cake.In 2009 the government of Bihar entrusted him the assignment of teacher-training in the state.Dr Jha is known for his erudtion and vision for Bihar.

Interestingly, the first Indian author in English was a Bihari, Deen Mohammad. Among the contemprory writers in English Amitava Kumar, Tabish Khair and Sidhharth Chaoudhary are important names. Sidhharth Chaoudhary has been shortlisted for 2009 Man Asia Literary prize for his book Day Scholar.

The world famous literary and cultural movement Bhookhi Peedhi or Hungry generation was launched from Bihar's capital in November 1961 by two firebrand brothers Samir Roychoudhury and Malay Roy Choudhury. The movement had impacted most of the Indian languages of the time.

Urdu is second government language in Bihar which is the mother tongue of about Muslims who form about 17% of state's population. Near 25% people in Bihar read and write Urdu. Bihar has produced many Urdu scholars, such as Shad Azimabadi,Jamil Maz'hari, Khuda Baksh Khan, Kaif Azimabadi, Rasikh Azimabadi, and in these days, Kalim Aajiz.

Arts and crafts

Madhubani paintings is a style of Indian painting, practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar. Tradition states that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas. Madhubani painting mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty. Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region, mainly by women. The painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and other milestones of the life-cycle such as birth, Upanayanam (Sacred thread ceremony), and marriage.

Manjusha Kala or Angika Art is an art form of Anga region of Bihar. Notably artist Jahar Dasgupta born in Jamshedpur, Bihar which is presently under state Jharkhand.

A painting of the city of Patna, on the River Ganges, Patna School of Painting.

Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company painting, offshoot of the well-know Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid 20th century. The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during late 18th century. They shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, but unlike them (whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes), the Patna painters also started painting bazaar scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica. Favourite subjects were scenes of Indian daily life, local rulers, and sets of festivals and ceremonies. Most successful were the studies of natural life, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that formed the nucleus for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. College of arts and crafts Patna is an important center of Fine Arts in Bihar.

Artisans selling their work near GPO Patna.

The artisans of Bihar have been very skillful in creating articles using local materials. Baskets, cups and saucers made from bamboo-strips or cane reed are painted in vivid colors are commonly found in Bihari homes. A special container woven out of Sikki Grass in the north, the "pauti", is a sentimental gift that accompanies a bride when she leaves her home after her wedding. The weavers of Bihar have been practicing their trade for centuries. Among their products in common use are the cotton dhurries and curtains. They are produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Biharsharif areas. These colourful sheets, with motifs of Buddhist artifacts, pictures of birds, animals, and/or flowers, gently wafting in the air through doors and windows, blown by a cool summer breeze, used to be one of the most soothing sights as one approached a home or an office. Bhagalpur is well known for its seri-culture, manufacture of silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products.It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.

Performing arts

Magahi folk singers

Bihar has contributed to the Indian (Hindustani) classical music and has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan who later migrated out of Bihar. Dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana), who were patronised by the Zamindars of Darbhanga and Bettiah respectively have produced maestros like Ram Chatur Mallik , Abhay Narayan Mallick, Indra Kishore Mishra.

Perhaps, not well acknowledged and commercialised as those from the Dagar school of Dhrupad, they have kept the Dhrupad tradition in perhaps the purest forms. Gaya was another centre of excellence in classical music, particularly of the Tappa and Thumri variety. Pandit Govardhan Mishra, son of the Ram Prasad Mishra, himself, an accomplished singer, is perhaps the finest living exponent of Tappa singing in India today, according to Padmashri Gajendra Narayan Singh, former Chairman of Bihar Sangeet Natak Academy. Gajendra Narayan Singh also writes in his latest book "surile Logon Ki Sangat" that Champanagar, Banaili was another major centre of classical music. Rajkumar Shyamanand Sinha of Champanagar Banaili estate was a great patron of music and himself, was one of the finest exponents of classical vocal music in Bihar in his time. Gajendra Narayan Singh in his other book "Swar Gandh" has written that "Kumar Shyamanand Singh of Banaili estate had such expertise in singing that many great singers including Surashri Kesarbai Kerkar were convinced about his prowess in singing. After listening to Bandishes from Kumar Saheb, Pandit Jasraj was moved to tears and lamented that alas! he could have such ability himself"(free translation of Hindi text).

Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc and the most famous folk singer has been Padma Shri Sharda Sinha. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments like Dholak, Bansuri and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used. Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as 'Phagua', filled with fun rhythms. During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured laborers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area. Dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patna.

Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.

Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are Bidesia, Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. These theater forms originate in the Anga region of Bihar.


The cuisine of Bihar for the Hindu upper and middle classes is predominantly vegetarian, but eating non-vegetarian food is also too much popular. However, people discourage eating meat daily and many Hindus don't eat meat during Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Muslims in Bihar however do generally eat meat as well as vegetables. In Bihar people generally eat boiled rice and daal etc. and no Roti during lunch and Roti is eaten in night with vegetables. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes the mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays. The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of dough stuffed with sattu (grinded powder coming from roasted brown chickpeas) then boiled in water . It is then fried in oil, but little oil is used since it has been pre-boiled. The other way of cooking Litti is grilling it on red hot coal. Chokha is made of mashed potatoes, fried onions, salt, cilantro, and carrom seeds. Litti is also accompanied with ghee and channa (small brown chickpeas with onions and masala).

Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice are also special preparations of Anga. Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yoghurt and besan. This dish goes very well with plain rice.

Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ke Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ki Lai, Laktho, Parwal ki Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut.Tilkut and Anarsa from gaya is world famous and LAI from Dhanarua is also famous. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna. Several other traditional salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu. Khaja from Silaw, Nalanda is very famous in whole of state.

There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cuisine as well, although some of the names of the dishes may be the same as those found in other parts of North India. Roll is a typical Bihari non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.There is a very popular non-vegeterian dish called Tash, made by frying marinated mutton and eaten with Chewra, the flattened rice. This particular dish is popular in Motihari and Bettiah.

Islamic culture and food, with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar`s unique confluence of cultures. Famous food items include Biharee Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kufte, Shabdeg, Yakhnee Biryanee, Motton Biryani, Shaljum Gosht, Baqer Khani, Kuleecha, Naan Rootee, Sawee ka Zarda, Qemamee Sawee, Gajar ka Halwa, Ande ka ZfraniHalwa etc.


Religion in Bihar
religion percent
Buddha's statue at Bodh Gaya's temple

Gautam Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya in Bihar. Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali around sixth century BC.[96]

A typical Hindu Bihari household would begin the day with the blowing of a conch shell at the dawn.

In rural Bihar, religion is the main component of popular culture. Shrines are located everywhere - even at the foot of trees, roadsides, etc, religious symbols or images of deities can be found in the most obscure or the most public places. From the dashboard of a dilapidated taxi to the plush office of a top executive, holy symbols or idols have their place.

Hindus are a majority in the state. Most of the festivals are Hindu festivals. There are many variations on the festival theme. While some are celebrated all over the state, others are observed only in certain areas. But Bihar being so diverse, different regions and religions have something to celebrate at sometime or the other during the year. So festivals take place round the year. Many of these are officially recognized by the days on which they take place being proclaimed as Government holidays.

One of the battle cry of the Bihar Regiment, consisting of 17 battalions, is "Jai Bajrang Bali" (Victory to Lord Hanuman).[97]

Dariya Sahib, was a saint (who was born in Shahabad in the 1700s) influenced by Kabirdas and Dharamdas, brought the Hindu and Muslim communities closer. Dariya Sahib, like many other Bhakti saints, is known as Dariyadas. He was listed by Brahm Sankar Misra as one of India's greatest saints.[98] Many of his followers believe that he is the reincarnation of Kabir.[99]


The Morning Worship Dala Chhath.

Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated twice a year: once in the summers, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once around a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. The latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and Chhath being an arduous observance requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, is easier to do in the Indian winters. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstenance and ritual segregation of the worshiper from the main household for two days. On the eve of Chhath, houses are scrupulously cleaned and so are the surroundings. The ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once on the crack of the dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion is almost a carnival, and besides every worshipper, usually women, who are mostly the main ladies of the household, there are numerous participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshiper. Ritual rendition of regional folk songs, carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, are sung on this occasion for several days on the go. These songs are a great mirror of the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Chhath being celebrated at the crack of the dawn is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience connecting the modern Indian to his ancient cultural roots. Chhath is believed to be started by Karna, the king of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpur region of Bihar).

Watercolour drawing showing the Chhath festival being celebrated on the banks of the Ganges at Patna, c.1795-1800.

Among ritual observances, the month long Shravani Mela held along a 108 kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganj and Deoghar (now in Jharkhand state) is of great significance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in the Hindu month of Shravan, that is the lunar month of July-August. Pilgrims, known as Kanwarias, wear saffron coloured clothes and collect water from a sacred Ghat (river bank) at Sultanganj, walking the 108 km stretch barefooted to the town of Deoghar to bathe a sacred Shiva-Linga. The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deoghar from all over India.

Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervor in Bihar. Bihula-Bishari Puja is celebrated in the Anga region of Bihar. The Sonepur cattle fair is a month long event starting approximately half a month after Deepawali and is considered the largest cattle fair in Asia. It is held on the banks of the Son River in the town of Sonepur. The constraints of the changing times and new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have eroded the once-upon-a-time magic of the fair.

Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of India are celebrated in Bihar, such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (often called Eid-ul-Zuha in the Indian Subcontinent), Muharram, Ram Navami, Rath yatra, Rakshabandhan, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja, Diwali, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Chitragupta Puja, and several other local festivals as well.


Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There are some small Maithili, Angika and Magadhi film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Jamuna released in 1961.[100] "Lagi nahin chute ram" was the all-time superhit Bhojpuri film which was released against "Mugle Azam" but was a superhit in all the eastern and northern sector. Bollywood's Nadiya Ke Paar is among the most famous Bhojpuri language movie. The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan released in 1965,[101] of which a significant portion was made in the Maithili language. Bhaiyaa a Magadhi film was released in 1961.[102] Bhojpuri's history begins in 1962 with the well-received film Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo ("Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari"), which was directed by Kundan Kumar.[103] Throughout the following decades, films were produced only in fits and starts. Films such as Bidesiya ("Foreigner," 1963, directed by S. N. Tripathi) and Ganga ("Ganges," 1965, directed by Kundan Kumar) were profitable and popular, but in general Bhojpuri films were not commonly produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1980s, enough Bhojpuri films were produced to tentatively make up an industry. Films such as Mai ("Mom," 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji ("My Brother's Wife," 1983, directed by Kalpataru) continued to have at least sporadic success at the box office. However, this trend faded out by the end of the decade, and by 1990, the nascent industry seemed to be completely finished.[104]

The industry took off again in 2001 with the super hit Saiyyan Hamar ("My Sweetheart," directed by Mohan Prasad), which shot the hero of that film, Ravi Kissan, to superstardom.[105] This success was quickly followed by several other remarkably successful films, including Panditji Batai Na Biyah Kab Hoi ("Priest, tell me when I will marry," 2005, directed by Mohan Prasad) and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala ("My father-in-law, the rich guy," 2005). In a measure of the Bhojpuri film industry's rise, both of these did much better business in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than mainstream Bollywood hits at the time, and both films, made on extremely tight budgets, earned back more than ten times their production costs.[106] Sasura Bada Paisa Wala also introduced Manoj Tiwari, formerly a well-loved folk singer, to the wider audiences of Bhojpuri cinema. In 2008, he and Ravi Kissan are still the leading actors of Bhojpuri films, and their fees increase with their fame. The extremely rapid success of their films has led to dramatic increases in Bhojpuri cinema's visibility, and the industry now supports an awards show[107] and a trade magazine, Bhojpuri City,[108] which chronicles the production and release of what are now over one hundred films per year. Many of the major stars of mainstream Bollywood cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, have also recently worked in Bhojpuri films.


in Bihar, A Supplement to Bihar State Gazette pp. 28</ref> The Main newspapers published in Bihar till 1980's was "The Indian Nation" and "Searchlight" in English and "Aryavarta" and "Pradeep" in Hindi.

Urdu journalism and poetry has a glorious past in Bihar. Many poets belong to Bihar such as Shaad Azimabadi, Kaif Azimabadi, Kalim Ajiz and many more. Shanurahman, a world famous radio announcer, is from Bihar. Many Urdu dailies such as Qomi Tanzim and Sahara publish from Bihar at this time.

The beginning of the twentieth century was marked by a number of notable new publications. A monthly magazine named Bharat Ratna was started from Patna in 1901. It was followed by Kshtriya Hitaishi, Aryavarta from Dinapure, Patna, Udyoga and Chaitanya Chandrika.[109] Udyog was edited by Vijyaanand Tripathy, a famous poet of the time and Chaitanya Chandrika by Krishna Chaitanya Goswami, a literary figures of that time. This literary activities were not confined to Patna alone but to many districts of Bihar.[110][111]

Magahi Parishad, established in Patna in 1952, pioneered Magadhi journalism in Bihar. It started the monthly journal, Magadhi, which was later renamed Bihan.

DD Bihar and ETV Bihar-Jharkhand are the television channels dedicated to Bihar. Recently a dedicated Bhojpuri channel, Mahuaa TV has been launched.[112][113]

Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Navbharat Times, Aj and Prabhat Khabar are some of the popular Hindi news papers of Bihar. National English dailies like The Times of India and The Economic Times have reads in the urban regions.


Streamers and dredgers at Gai Ghat, Patna.

Bihar has two operational airports: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna, Gaya Airport, Gaya. Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. It is categorized as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya Airport is an international airport connected to Colombo, Singapore, Bangkok, Paro and more.

Bihar is well-connected by railway lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected among themselves, and they also are directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Katihar, Barauni, Chhapra and Bhagalpur are Bihar's best-connected railway stations.

The state has a vast network of National and State highways.

For Buddhist pilgrims, the best option for travel to Bihar is to reach Patna or Gaya, either by air or train, and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali. Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh also is not very far.

The Ganges — navigable throughout the year — was the principal river highway across the vast north Indian Gangetic plain. Vessels capable of accommodating five hundred merchants were known to ply this river in the ancient period; it served as a conduit for overseas trade, as goods were carried from Pataliputra (later Patna) and Champa ( later Bhagalpur) out to the seas and to ports in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. The role of Ganges as a channel for trade was enhanced by its natural links - it embraces all the major rivers and streams in both north and south Bihar.[114]

In recent times Inland Waterways Authority of India has declared Ganga, between Allahabad and Haldia, national inland waterway and has taken steps to restore its navigability.


Trolley ride in Rajgir
Remains of the ancient city of Vaishali

Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, with a history spanning 3,000 years. The rich culture and heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments spread throughout the state. Bihar is visited by scores of tourists from all over the world,[115] with around 6,000,000 (6 million) tourists visiting Bihar every year.[115]

In earlier days, tourism in the region was purely based educational tourism, as Bihar was home of some prominent ancient universities like Nalanda University & Vikramaśīla University.[116][117]

Bihar is one of the most sacred place for various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam.


Mahabodhi Temple, a Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also situated in Bihar.Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Patna, is the longest river bridge in the world.

Archaeological sites and Monuments in Bihar

Kumhrar·Agam Kuan·Barabar Caves·Nalanda·Vikramsila

Vishnupada Temple · Mahabodhi Temple · Sasaram · Maner Sharif · Patliputra · Brahmayoni Hill · Pretshila Hill · Ramshila Hill

Rohtasgarh Fort · Munger Fort · Sasaram Fort · Palamu Fort · Maner Fort · Jalalgarh Fort · Rajmahal, Bihar

Golghar · Patna Museum · Kargil Chowk · Mahatma Gandhi Setu

Pilgrimage sites in Bihar

Hindu Pilgrimage
Mahavir Mandir · Hariharkshetra, Hajipur. Sitamarhi · Madhubani · Punausa · Buxur · West Champaran · Munger · Jamui · Darbhanga · Anga
Jain Pilgrimage
Rajgir · Pawapuri · Patliputra · Arrah · Vikramasila · Kundalpur

Buddhist Pilgrimages
Mahabodhi Temple · Bodhi Tree ·Bodh Gaya · Gaya · Vaishali · Pawapuri· Nalanda · Rajgir · Kesariya · Vikramshila · Areraj · Patliputra

Sikh Pilgrimage
Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb · Guru ka Bagh · Ghai Ghat · Handi Sahib · Gobind Ghat · Bal Lila Maini··Taksali Sangat · Guru Bagh · Chacha Phaggu Mal · Pakki Sangat · Bari Sangat

Islamic Pilgrimages
Sasaram · Maner Sharif · Bihar Sharif · Phulwari Sharif · Patna
Christian Pilgrimages
Padari ki haveli

Also See


  1. ^ "State Profile". Bihar Government website. 
  2. ^ "Food riots, anger as floods swamp South Asia". Reuters India. 
  3. ^ a b [|Guruswamy, Mohan]; Kaul Abhishek (2003-12-15). "The Economic Strangulation of Bihar" (PDF). Centre for Policy Alternatives, New Delhi, India. 
  4. ^ a b c "State Profile". Gov. of India. 
  5. ^ Bihar, past & present: souvenir, 13th Annual Congress of Epigraphica By P. N. Ojha, Kashi Prasad Jayaswal Research Institute
  6. ^ Mishra Pankaj, The broblem, Seminar 450 - February 1997
  7. ^ "The History of Bihar". Bihar Government website. 
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  25. ^ "Foreign invaders often used abandoned viharas as military cantonments; the word Bihar may have come from the large number of viharas thus employed in the area that later became Bihar. Originally Bihar was name of a town, which was headquarters of the Muslim invaders in the Magadha region in the medieval period. The town still exists and is called Bihar or Bihar Sharif (Nalanda District). Later on the headquarter was shifted from Bihar to Patana (current Patna) by Sher Shāh Sūrī and the whole Magadha region was called Bihar."
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  29. ^ A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, by Fa-hsien (chapter27)
  30. ^ Bashan A.L., The Wonder that was India, Picador, 2004, pp. 46
  31. ^ Online BBC News Article: Religion & Ethics - Hinduism, BBC News, 2 January 2007
  32. ^ Pathak Prabhu Nath,Society and Culture in Early Bihar, Commonwealth Publishers, 1988, pp. 134-140
  33. ^ Thakur U.,Studies in Jainism and Buddhism in Mithila, pp. 150
  34. ^ Chaudhary R. K.,Bihar the Home-land of Buddhism, Patna, 1956, pp. 87
  35. ^ January 2008, VOL. 213, #1
  36. ^ Gopal Ram, Rule Hindu Culture During and After Muslim, pp. 20, "Some invaders, like Bakhtiar Khilji, who did not know the value of books and art objects, destroyed them in large numbers and also the famous Nalanda ..."
  37. ^ The Maha-Bodhi By Maha Bodhi Society, Calcutta (page 8)
  38. ^ Omalley L.S.S., History of Magadha, Veena Publication, Delhi, 2005, pp. 35, "The Buddhism of Magadha was finally swept away by the Muhammadan invasion under Bakhtiyar Khilji, In 1197 the capital, Bihar, was seized by a small party of two hundred horsemen, who rushed the postern gate, and sacked the town. The slaughter of the "shaven-headed Brahmans," as the Muslim chronicler calls the Buddhist monks, was so complete that when the victor searched for someone capable of explaining the contents of the monastic libraries, not a living man could be found who was able to do so. "It was discovered," it was said, "that the whole fort and city was a place of study." A similar fate befell the other Buddhist institutions, against which the combined intolerance and rapacity of the invaders was directed. The monasteries were sacked and the monks slain, many of the temples were ruthlessly destroyed or desecrated, and countless idols were broken and trodden under foot. Those monks who escaped the sword flied to Tibet, Nepal and southern India; and Buddhism as a popular religion in Bihar, its last abode in Northern India, was finally destroyed. Then forward Patna passed under Muhammadan rule."
  39. ^ Smith V. A., Early history of India
  40. ^ Omalley L.S.S., History of Magadha, Veena Publication, Delhi, 2005, pp. 36, "Sher Shah on his return from Bengal, in 1541, came to Patna, then a small town dependent on Bihar, which was the seat of the local government. He was standing on the ban of the Ganges, when, after much reflection, he said to those who were standing by - 'If a fort were to be built in this place, the waters of the Ganges could never flow far from it, and Patna would become one of the great towns of this country. The fort was completed.. Bihar for that time was deserted, and fell to ruin; while Patna became one of the largest cities of the province.. In 1620 we find Portuguese merchants at Patna; and Tavernier's account shows that a little more the a century after its foundation it was the great entrepot of Northern India "the largest town in Bengal and the most famous for trade..."
  41. ^ Elliot, History of India, Vol 4
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  43. ^ Brown, Judith Margaret (1972). Gandhi's Rise to Power, Indian Politics 1915-1922: Indian Politics 1915-1922. New Delhi: Cambridge University Press Archive. p. 384. ISBN 978-0521098731. 
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  46. ^ Bandyopādhyāya, Śekhara (2004). From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India. Orient Longman. pp. 523 (at p 407). ISBN 978-8125025962. 
  47. ^ Kamat. "Great freedom Fighters". Kamat's archive. Retrieved 2006-02-25. 
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  49. ^ Kumod Verma. "Scared Biharis arrive from Mumbai". The Times of India.,prtpage-1.cms. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  50. ^ WASBIR HUSSAIN. "30 Killed in Northeast Violence in India". Washington Post. Retrieved 2006-02-25. 
  51. ^ Patnadaily. "40 Bihari Workers Killed by ULFA Activists in Assam". Retrieved 2006-01-06. 
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  73. ^ "Doing business the hard way in Bihar". Financial express. 2008. 
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  86. ^ Jha, Abhay Mohan (2008-08-04). "Brand new IIT in Patna impresses all". NDTV. Retrieved 2008-08-04. 
  87. ^ NITPU Chandigarh. "National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research, S.A.S. Nagar". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  88. ^ NIFT starts classes in Patna
  89. ^ "Teacher Absence in India: A Snapshot". World Bank. June 1, 2004. 
  90. ^ "Combating India's truant teachers". BBC. 2004-11-29. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  91. ^
  92. ^ Jain Dhanesh, Cardona George, The Indo-Aryan Languages, pp. 500, "..the number of speakers of Bihari languages are difficult to indicate because of unreliable sources. In the urban region most educated speakers of the language name Hindi as their language because this is what they use in formal contexts and believe it to be the appropriate response because of unawareness. The uneducated and the rural population of the region return Hindi as the generic name for their language."
  93. ^ History of Indian languages,"Bihari is actually the name of a group of three related languages—Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magahi—spoken mainly in northeastern India in Bihar. Despite its large number of speakers, Bihari is not a constitutionally recognized language of India. Even in Bihar, Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters."
  94. ^ Verma, Mahandra K.. "Language Endangerment and Indian languages : An exploration and a critique". Linguistic Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia.,M1. 
  95. ^ Brass Paul R., The Politics of India Since Independence, Cambridge University Press, pp. 183
  96. ^ Pathak Prabhu Nath,Society and Culture in Early Bihar, Commonwealth Publishers, 1988, pp. 140
  98. ^ Juergensmeyer, P. 29 Radhasoami Reality:
  99. ^ Atreya, P. 66 Darshana International
  100. ^ Ganga Jamuna - First Bhojpuri language film
  101. ^ Kanyadan - First Maithili language film
  102. ^ Bhaiyaa - First Magadhi language film
  103. ^ IMDB
  104. ^ Tripathy, Ratnakar (2007) 'BHOJPURI CINEMA', South Asian Popular Culture, 5:2, 145 - 165
  105. ^ "For my female audiences, I’ll wear a really flimsy dhoti". 2006-04-14. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  106. ^ Move over Bollywood, Here's Bhojpuri, BBC News
  107. ^ "Home". Bhojpuri Film Award. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  108. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  109. ^ Bihar ki Sahityik Pragati, Bihar Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, Patna 1956, pp. 73
  110. ^ Ahmad Qeyamuddin, Patna Through the ages: Glimpses of History, Society and Economy, Commonwealth Publishers, New Delhi, 1988
  111. ^ Jayanti Smarak Granth, pp. 583-585
  112. ^ "Bhojpuri Channel Mahuaa TV Launched". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  113. ^ "Bhojpuri Channel MAHUAA TV launched". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  114. ^ "Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Gangetic Bihar".,M1. Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  115. ^ a b c Statics Tourism in Bihar on Indian Government's website
  116. ^ Wriggins, Sally Hovey. Xuanzang: A Buddhist Pilgrim on the Silk Road. Westview Press, 1996. Revised and updated as The Silk Road Journey With Xuanzang. Westview Press, 2003. ISBN 0-8133-6599-6.
  117. ^ A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms: Being an account by the Chinese Monk Fa-Hien of his travels in India and Ceylon (A.D. 399-414) in search of the Buddhist Books of Discipline. Oxford, Clarendon Press. Reprint: New York, Paragon Book Reprint Corp. 1965. ISBN 0-486-21344-7

Further reading

  • Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Rachnawali (Selected works of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati), Prakashan Sansthan, Delhi, 2003.
  • Christopher Alan Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen, and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770-1870, Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Anand A. Yang, Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar, University of California Press, 1999.
  • Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi Rachnawali, Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi.
  • Swami Sahajanand and the Peasants of Jharkhand: A View from 1941 translated and edited by Walter Hauser along with the unedited Hindi original (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
  • Sahajanand on Agricultural Labour and the Rural Poor translated and edited by Walter Hauser (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
  • Religion, Politics, and the Peasants: A Memoir of India's Freedom Movement translated and edited by Walter Hauser (Manohar Publishers, hardbound, 2003).
  • Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, 1947, Bakasht Mahamari Aur Uska Achook Ilaaz (Bakasht Epidemic and its Infalliable Remedy) in Hindi, Allahabad.
  • Indradeep Sinha, 1969, Sathi ke Kisanon ka Aitihasic Sangharsha (Historic Struggle of Sathi Peasants), in Hindi, Patna.
  • Indradeep Sinha, Real face of JP's total revolution, Communist Party of India (1974).
  • Indradeep Sinha, Some features of current agrarian situation in India, All India Kisan Sabha, (1987).
  • Indradeep Sinha, The changing agrarian scene: Problems and tasks, Peoples Publishing House (1980).
  • Indradeep Sinha, Some questions concerning Marxism and the peasantry, Communist Party of India (1982).
  • Nand Kishore Shukla, The Trial of Baikunth Sukul: A Revolutionary Patriot, Har-Anand, 1999, 403 pages, ISBN 81-241-0143-4.
  • Shramikon Ke Hitaishi Neta, Itihas Purush: Basawon Singh published by the Bihar Hindi Granth Academy (1st Edition, April, 2000).
  • Ramchandra Prasad, Ashok Kumar Sinha, Sri Krishna Singh in Adhunik Bharat ke Nirmata Series, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • Walter Hauser, 1961, Peasant Organisation in India: A Case Study of the Bihar Kisan Sabha, 1929-1942, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Chicago, (Forthcoming publication).
  • Rai, Algu, 1946, A Move for the Formation of an All-Indian Organisation for the Kisans, Azamgrah.
  • N. G. Ranga, 1949, Revolutionary Peasants, New Delhi.
  • N. G. Ranga, 1968, Fight For Freedom, New Delhi.
  • Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, 1943, Naye Bharet ke Naye Neta (New Leaders of New India), in Hindi, Allahabad.
  • Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, 1957, Dimagi Gulami (Mental Slavery), in Hindi, Allahabad.
  • Manmath Nath Gupta, Apane samaya ka surya Dinkar, Alekha Prakasana (1981).
  • Khagendra Thakur, Ramdhari Singh ‘Dinkar’: Vyaktitva aur Krititva, Publications Division, 2008 Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • Vijendra Narayan Singh, Bharatiya Sahitya ke Nirmata: Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2005, ISBN 81-260-2142-X.
  • Kumar Vimal, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Rachna — Sanchayan, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2008, ISBN 978-81-260-2627-2.
  • Das Arvind N., The republic of Bihar, Penguin Books, 1992,
  • Mishra Shree Govind, History Of Bihar 1740-1772, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1970
  • Verma B S, Socio-religious Economic And Literary Condition Of Bihar (From ca. 319 A.D. to 1000 A.D.), Munshiram Manoharlal, 1962
  • Maitra A ,Magahi Culture, Cosmo Publications, New Delhi, 1983
  • Naipaul V S, India: A Wounded Civilization, Picador, 1977
  • Trevithick Alan, The Revival Of Buddhist Pilgrimage At Bodh Gaya (1811–1949): Anagarika Dharmapala And The Mahabodhi Temple
  • Jannuzi F. Tomasson, Agrarian Crisis In India: The Case Of Bihar, University of Texas Press, 1974, ISBN 0-292-76414-6, 9780292764149
  • Omalley L S S, History Of Magadh, Veena Publication, 2005, ISBN 81-89224-01-8
  • Shukla Prabhat Kumar, Indigo And The Raj: Peasant Protests In Bihar 1780-1917, Pragati Publications, 1993, ISBN 81-7307-004-0
  • Ahmad Qeyamuddin, Patna Through The Ages: Glimpses of History, Society & Economy, Commonwealth Publishers, 1988
  • Jain B D, Ardha Magadhi Reader, Sri Satguru Publications, Lahore, 1923
  • Crindle John W Mc, Ancient India As Described By Ptolemy, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1927, ISBN 81-215-0945-9
  • Patra C, Life In Ancient India: As Depicted In The Digha Nikaya, Punthi Pustak, 1996, ISBN 81-85094-93-4
  • Hazra Kanai Lal, Buddhism In India As Described By The Chinese Pilgrims AD 399-689, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983, ISBN 81-215-0132-6
  • Mccrindle John W, Ancient India As Described By Megasthenes And Arrian, Munshiram Manoharlal
  • Sastry Harprasad, Magadhan Literature, Sri Satguru Publications, Calcutta, 1923
  • Rai Alok, Hindi Nationalism, Orient Longman, 2000, ISBN 81-250-1979-0
  • Waddell Austine L., Report On The Excavations At Pataliputra (Patna) - The Palibothra Of The Greeks, Asian Publicational Services, Calcutta, 1903
  • Das Arvind N., The State of Bihar: an economic history without footnotes, Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1992
  • Brass Paul R., The politics of India since Independence, Cambridge University Press, 1990
  • Askari S. H., Medival Bihar: Sultante and Mughal Period, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1990
  • Tayler William, Three Months at Patna during the Insurrection of 1857, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 2007
  • Taylor P.J.O., "What really happened during the during the Mutiny: A day by day account of the major events of 1857-1859 in India", Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-19-564182-5
  • Pathak Prabhu Nath, Society and Culture in Early Bihar (C.A.D. 200 - 600), Commonwealth Publishers, 1988
  • Basham A. L., The Wonder that was India, Picador, 1954, ISBN 0-330-43909-X
  • Nambisan Vijay, Bihar in the eye of the beholder, Penguin Books, 2000, ISBN 978-0-14-029449-1
  • Pathak Mohan, Flood plains and Agricultural occupance, Deep & Deep Publication, 1991, ISBN 81-7100-289-7
  • D'Souza Rohan, Drowned and Dammed:Colonial Capitalism and Flood Control in Eastern India, Oxford University Press, 2006,

External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : India : Plains : Bihar
The Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya
The Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya
Madhubani Paintings, Bihar
Madhubani Paintings, Bihar
Buddha's Statue at the Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya
Buddha's Statue at the Mahabodhi temple, Bodh Gaya
Ruins of Nalanda University, Nalanda
Ruins of Nalanda University, Nalanda
A typical landscape in rural Bihar
A typical landscape in rural Bihar
Trolly ride in Rajgri
Trolly ride in Rajgri
Shanti Stup, Rajgri
Shanti Stup, Rajgri
View of Gai Ghat, from Gandhi Setu bridge, in Patna
View of Gai Ghat, from Gandhi Setu bridge, in Patna
Collectorate ghat on the bank of Ganga in Patna
Collectorate ghat on the bank of Ganga in Patna
A typical village bazaar in Bihar
A typical village bazaar in Bihar

Bihar is a state in eastern India. It lies on the Gangetic plain, with Uttar Pradesh to its west, West Bengal arching to its south and east, and with Nepal to its north. The Bihar plain is divided into two unequal halves by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east.


Bihar can be grouped into four regions based on river boundaries. These four regions have very similar languages - Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi and Maithili spoken in respective regions. The languages are collectively known as 'Bihari' and are decedents of the ancient language of Magadhi Prakrit, the language spoken by the Buddha and the language of the ancient kingdom of Magadha.

  • Bodh Gaya — site of the Buddha Sakyamuni's enlightenment
  • Nalanda — site of the ruins of an ancient Buddhist university and the Nalanda Multimedia Museum
  • Valmiki Nagar — national tiger reserve


Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in social and economic development, and is one of the poorest Indian states. The state doesn't have good infrastructure facilities and so tourists may find their stay and travel very inconvenient. Nevertheless the state have many places to explore like Bodh Gaya (considered to be the birth place of Buddhism) and Nalanda (the site of one of the oldest universities of the world). The reason for the economical backwardness of the state is blamed on the state leadership, the central government's policies like the 'freight equalization policy' and its apathy towards Bihar, a lack of Bihari state pride (resulting in no spokesperson for the state) and the policy of Permanent Settlement by the British East India Company, which has left a feudalistic culture still dragging the state back.

Bihar has a youthful and mainly rural population of 85% and the society is mainly agrarian. Northern Bihar is prone to perennial flooding. The state has seen mass migration out of the state in last few decades and these ethnic Biharis living in other states of India are victims of racist hate crimes and prejudice. There was even Naxal insurgence in last few decades, especially in Southern Bihar, but the situation has calmed down in recent years. The state has earned a very poor image outside Bihar due to a poor law and order situation and involvement of crime in politics, which are generally exaggerated. Jharkhand, the mineral-rich tribal belt, used to be part of the state, but in 2001, it was split to form its own state.


Bihar has a glorious past. Bihar was known as Magadha in ancient times. It was a center of power, learning and culture. The Maurya empire as well as one of the world's greatest pacifist religions, Buddhism, arose from Magadha. Bihari empires, like the Maurya and the Gupta, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule. Pataliputra (modern Patna), the capital of Magadha, was an important center of Indian civilization. Many important non-religious books like Arthashashtra and Kamasutra were composed here 2000 years back. Vaisali, one of the first known republic, existed here since before the birth of Mahavira (c. 599 BC).

The state suffered immensely due to Hunnic and later Muslim invasions, and the old traditions of culture and learning was almost lost by the end of 12th century. The Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji in 12th century C.E. destroyed many of the viharas (Buddhist sanghas) and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila. Thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred. Bihar lost its importance in the medieval period though it rose to prominence for a brief period during the rule of Sher Shah Suri in the 15th century. Foreign invaders often used abandoned viharas as military cantonments. The word Bihar have come from the large number of viharas thus employed in the area. Originally Bihar was name of a town, which was headquarter of the Muslim invaders in Magadha, in the medieval period. The headquarter was later on shifted, from Bihar to Patana (current Patna), by Sher Shah Suri and the establishments in those time started calling Magadha by the name Bihar. The town of Bihar still exists is also known as Bihar-Sharif, which is located in Nalanda District, near the famous ruins of the Nalanda University.

The culture and lifestyle of the Biharis haven't changed much over the centuries. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the Indian independence struggle against the British rule.

  • Bodh Gaya fields international flights to Bangkok (Thailand) and Paro (Bhutan), catering largely to Buddhist pilgrims. Patna is connected to major Indian cities.
  • Patna-Gaya-Ranchi air taxi service [1].

By train

Bihar is connected by train to all major cities of India. Some good trains to reach the capital Patna are:

  • From Delhi - Patna Rajdhani Express(2309/2310), Sampurna Kranti Exp. (overnight journey)
  • From Kolkata - Jan Shatabdi Exp. ( 8-9 hrs.)
  • From Mumbai - Rajendra Nagar Lokmanya Tilak T. Exp.
  • From Varanasi - Vibhuti Exp. (6 hrs.).

By Road

Major National Highways which connect Bihar with other cornor of country are as follows NH 2, 19, 28, 30, 31.

Patna is well conncet by road with all the corner of country, Deluxe bus services are available for following location Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Kolkata, Siliguri & Nepal border.


Bodhgaya Near the holy city of Gaya, the Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree that had sheltered him came to be known as the Bodhi tree and the place Bodhgaya. Today Bodhgaya, an important place of pilgrimage, has a number of monasteries, some of them established by Buddhists of Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc.

Patna once called Patliputra the capital of Bihar, is among the world's oldest capital cities with unbroken history of many centuries as imperial metropolis of the Mauryas and Guptas imperial dynasties.

Nalanda A great centre of Buddhist learning, Nalanda came into prominence around the 5th century BC and was a flourishing university town with over ten thousand scholars and an extensive library.

Rajgir Rajgir,103 kms from Patna, was the ancient capital of Magadha Empire. Lord Buddha often visited the monastery here to meditate and to preach. Rajgir is also a place sacred to the Jains, Since Lord Mahavira spent many years here.

Vaishali Vaishali was one of the earliest republics in the world (6th century BC).It was here that Buddha preached his last sermon. Vaishali, birthplace of Lord Mahavira is also Sacred to Jains.

Kesaria This Stupa is in fact one of the many memorable stupa remarkable event in the life of Buddha. Kesaria has a lofty brick mound capped by a solid brick tower of considerable size, which it self is the remain of a Buddhist Stupa. The mound is a ruin with a diameter of 68 feet at its base and a total height of 5½ ft. originally it was crowned by a pinnacle which must have stood 80 or 90 ft above the ground. General Cunningham dated this monument to AD 200 to 700, and held that it was built upon the ruins of a much older and larger Stupa. It is the highest Stupa found in the country with a height of about 104” from the base.

Pawapuri In Pawapuri, or Apapuri, 38 kilometres from Rajgir and 90 kilometres from Patna, all sins end for a devout Jain. Lord Mahavira, the final tirthankar and founder of Jainism, breathed his last at this place.

Tar (Bhojpur) Situated about 10 kms North West of Piro the village derives its name from Tarka, a she demon killed by lord Rama. There is an old tank in the village that is said to be the wrestling ground of Tarka.

Ahirauli (Buxur) Situated about 5 kms north-east of Buxur, this village has a temple of Devi Ahilya. According to the local tradition it dates back to the pre historic ages. Legend is that, Ahilya was transformed into stone as a result of curse of her husband, Rishi Gautam and she could be redeemed only when lord Ram Chandra visited her place.

Ram Rekha Ghat (Buxur) According to the legends, lord Ram Chandra and his younger brother Lakshman with their teacher Rishi Vishwamitra had crossed the Ganga here on their way to Janakpur where he later took part in the Sita swayambar (the public ceremony of Sita's Marriage).

Sita Kund (Munger) A village about 6 Kms East of the Munger town contains a hot spring known as the Sita Kund spring, which is so called after the well known episode of Ramayan. Ram, after rescuing his wife Sita from the demon king Ravan, suspected that she could not have maintained her honour intact, and Sita, to prove her chastity, agreed to enter a blazing fire. She came out of the fiery or deal unscathed, and imparted to the pool in which she bathed, the heat she had absorbed from the fire. The hot spring is now enclosed in a masonry reservoir and is visited by large number of pilgrims, specially at the full moon of Magh.

Janki Temple (Sitamarhi) This temple is traditionally considered to be the birth place of Sita or Janki, the daughter of king Janak. This temple, however seems to have been built about 100 years ago.

Valmiki Nagar (West Champaran) This is a village on the Indo Nepal border 42 kms North-West of Bagaha to which it is connected by a metalled road. A barrage has been constructed here on the Gandak river for the purpose of irrigation. Besides an old Shiva temple constructed by the Bettiah Raj, there are also ancient temple of Nara Devi and Gauri Shankar at Valmiki Nagar. There is a Valmiki Ashram, which is said to be the place where Maharshi Valmiki was living. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti every year a fair is held on the bank of River Gandak.

Maner Sharif (Patna, Maner) It is a large village of historical antiquities, situated in the extreme north west of Danapur Sub-division, about 32 kms west of Patna on Patna-Arrah Highway. In the early ages Maner was a centre of learning and it is said that grammarian Panini, and also Bararuchi, lived and studied here. Maner contains two well-known Mohammedan tombs, that of Shah Daulat or Makhdum Daulat, known as Chhoti Dargah, and the other that of Sheikh Yahia Maneri or Makhdum Yahia, called the Bari Dargah. Makhdum Daulat died at Maner in 1608, and Ibrahim Khan, Governor of Bihar and one of the saint's disciples completed the erection of his mausoleum in 1616. The building is exceptionally fine one, with walls containing carvings of great delicacy and high finish. A great dome crowns it, and the ceiling is covered with carved inscriptions from the Quran. Every detail of it is characteristic of the architecture of Jehangir's region, and it is by far the finest monument of the Mughals in Eastern India. Inside the compound there is a mosque also built by Ibrahim Khan in 1619, whiles a fine gateway bearing an older inscription corresponding to 1603-01, and affords access to the north. The tomb of Yahia Maneri lies in a mosque walls and ghats, and pillared porticos jutting out into it, which is connected with the old bed of the River Sone by a tunnel 400-ft long.

Bari Dargah (Bihar Sharif, Nalanda) This is headquarters of Nalanda district that lays 30 kms South of Bakhtiarpur on NH-31. This is also a railhead on the Bakhtiarpur Rajgir branch line of the Eastern Indian Railway. This town is known as Bihar Sharif, owing to its many Muslim tombs that still retain traces of its former importance as a Muslim pilgrimage. There is a hill called Pir Pahari, about 1 m to the northwest of the town. At its summit is the dargah or mausoleum of the Saint Mallik Ibrahim Bayu, round which are tem smaller tombs. It is a brick structure surmounted by a dome and bears inscriptions showing that the saint died in 1353. Another great dargah is that of Mokhdum Shah Sharif ud-din, also called Makhdum-ul-Mulk, died here in 1379; the inscription over the entrance shows that his tomb was built in 1569. This tomb, which stands on the south bank of the river, is held in great veneration by the local Mohammedans, who assemble here on the 5th day of Sawan to celebrate the anniversary of his death. The Chhoti Dargah is the shrine of Badruddin Badr-I-Alam, famous saint who died here in 1440.

Motihari (East Champaran) Motihari was to the first laboratory of Gandhian experiment in Satyagraha and probably it will not be very incorrect to say that is has been the spring board for India’s independence. Champaran district generated a wave of enthusiasm and inspiration to the people who were thirsting for a selfless and saintly leader. The technique followed by Gandhiji in Champaran was what attained later on the name of Satyagraha.

Sadaquat Ashram (Patna) It is situated in Digha area on Patna Danapur Road and in pre independence days guided the freedom movement in Bihar. It is Associated with the memories of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Mautana Mazharal Haque and other leaders.

Kakolat (Nawada) It is a waterfall in Gobindpur police-station, about 21 miles away from Nawada. After going 9¼ miles from Nawada on Ranchi Road, a pucca road known as Gobindpur—Akbarpore Road diverts from there. Just below the fall there is a deep reservoir natural in character. The fall is about 150 to 160 feet, from the ground level. The scene is panoramic due to all-round green forest area, which is very pleasant to the eyes. A legend is prevalent that in Treta Yuga a king named was cursed by a rishi and had to take the shape of a python and lived here. The place was visited by the great Pandavas during their exile and the accursed king got salvation from the damnation. The king after getting rid of the curse proclaimed that one who would bathe in the waterfall will not take the yoni of snake and that is why a large number of people from far and near bathe in the river. A big fair is held on the occasion of bishua or Chait Shankranti.

Bhimbandh (Munger) It is situated at a distance of 56 km from Munger, 20 km from Jamui Railway Station and 200 km from Patna Airport. Bhimbandh Wild Life Sanctuary is located in the south west of Munger District. The forests cover an area or 681.99 on the hills and undulating tract of Kharagpur Hills.

  • Sonepur Fair
  • Rajgir Mahotsav in the month of October every year at Rajgir
  • Vaishali Mahotsav in the month of April every year at Vaishali
  • Budha Mahotsav in the month of December every year at Bodhgaya
  • Patna Film Festival
  • Chhath - Chhath (also called Dala Chhath ) is a Hindu festival, unique to Bihar, Jharkhand state, India and Terai, Nepal. This festival is also celebrated in the northeast region of India, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and some parts of Chhattisgarh.It is an ancient and major festival. Songs for Chhath festival sung by Padma Shri Bihar Kokila Prof. (Smt) Sharda Sinha are very popular.
  • Durga Puja
  • Ganges Cruise from Calcutta to Varanasi via Bihar [2]
  • River cruise around Patna operated by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation; Cruise starts twice every day from Gaighat
  • Charterer flights - Approx. $350 per hour (three seats) [3] for tourism and getting around.
  • Dal bhat chhokha
  • Litti-Chokha
  • Bhang the leaf and flower of the Cannabis sativa plant, is consumed as a beverage is in many forms, the simplest of which is made by pounding bhang leaves with a little black pepper, sugar and mixing with water. Cannabis is widely produced in Bihar and sold legally at licensed Bhang shops
  • Taari
  • Sattu A powdered and baked gram mixed with water, and sometimes salt and lemon juice, for a refreshing drink.
  • Lassi A sweet/ salty drink made of yogurt and lots of cream
  • Thandhai A sweet drink made of yogurt, spices, dry fruits etc

Stay safe

Bihar has a terrible reputation for crime and banditry (or dacoity, to use the Indian word), with armed bandits recently taking to robbing moving trains, and there were 55 cases of hijackings for ransom (and 2,480 for other reasons!) reported in 2008. The situation is steadily improving though, with crime statistics for the most serious offences dropping the last 3 years in a row and, in absolute numbers, crime against foreigners remains comparably low compared to states popular with international tourists. So while reality may not be quite as grim as the horror stories you'll hear from non-Biharis, it's still advisable to keep a low profile and to avoid overnight travel on the roads. A low-level Naxalite (Maoist Communist)insurgency continues to bubble in the southern parts of the state, but the tourist is unlikely to venture into the affected regions.

Public transportation systems, like trains and buses, are generally over crowded. Trains in India are generally prone to theft, so it's wise to lock your luggage to the seat in the carriage and keep more aware than usual.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also bihar


Proper noun




  1. State in eastern India which has Patna as its capital.

Derived terms


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