Rajgir, the capital of the Magadh Mahajanpad (State) before the foundation of Patliputra is named after Raj Griha, literally meaning the “Royal Palace”. The town sprawls in a valley amidst scenic surroundings and is one of the most important tourists and Buddhist pilgrim centers in India. Lord Buddha is said to have spent several years here. During his stay, he delivered sermons and proselytized Mauryan emperor Bimbisar, at Griddhakoota hill. Rajgir is reverently mentioned in great epics – Ramayana and Mahabharata. It is also a sacred site for the Jains and Hindus. Lord Mahavira, the 24th Jain kara and founder of Jainism, meditated and delivered his first sermon here. The hills around Rajgir are dotted with beautiful Jain shrines. The town is also an excellent health and winter resort. The hot water ponds here possess curative properties, which help in the cure of many skin diseases.
Amaravana /Jivekarmavan Gardens: It was the seat of the royal physician Jivaka, who is said to have treated the wound of Lord Buddha here.
Ajatasatru’s Fort: It was built during the 6th century B.C. by Ajatasatru, the king of Magadha. The 6.5 sq. meter stupa is also believed to have been built by him.
Bimbisara Jail: King Bimbisara was imprisoned here by his son Ajatashatru. Bimbisara is said to have chosen the site for his incarceration, as from here he could see Lord Buddha climbing atop the Griddhakuta hill to do his meditation.
Chariot Route Marks: The strange marks cut deep into the rock are believed to be of Lord Krishna’s chariot when he visited Rajgir during the epic Mahabharata period.
Cyclopean Wall: The relics of the wall, which once encircled the town can be seen at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya. It is one of the few remnants of pre-Mauryan structures.
Griddhakuta Hill & Shanti Stupa: Lord Buddha set in motion his second wheel of law at Guriddhakuta Hill. He delivered many sermons from here and his teachings were first recorded in writing at this sacred site. The Buddha Sangha of Japan built a huge Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), atop the hill to commemorate the event. The stupa can also be reached by an aerial ropeway.
Hot Sulphur Springs (Saptdhara): It lies at the base of the Vaibhava hills and has bathing places for men and women. The water is said to have curative powers. The springs are Pippala Cave, also known as “Jarasandh ki Baithak”.
Saptaparni Cave: The first Buddhist Council was convened hereafter by the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha.
Other places of interest are – Jarashand ka Akhara, Karanda Tank, Swarna Bhandar, Veerayatan Jain Temple and Venuvan Vihar, etc.
Kundalpur (18 kms.)
The Digambar Jains believe that it is the birthplace of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. A Jain temple and two lotus lakes mark the sacred site.
Pawapuri, also known as Apapuri (a sinless city) is one of the most important Jain pilgrim centers. Lord Mahavira delivered his last sermon and breathed his last over here around 500 B.C. His cremation site is marked by the beautiful Jalamandir temple, built in white marble. It is said that devotees not only took away the ashes of the Lord but also removed a large amount of soil around the funeral pyre, which created the water tank. Samosharan is another splendid shrine at Pawapuri.
Swarajpur-Baragaon (18 kms.)
The lake with its temple of Sun God, comes to life, twice a year in “Vaisakha” (Apr-May) and “Kartika” (Oct.-Nov.) during the Chhath Puja or Sun Worship.