Bihar State Information
Capital : Patna
Languages : Hindi, Maithili, Bhojpuri
Introduction to Bihar
Bihar is the place that gave birth to Buddhism and Jainism and helped in the
growth of Sikhism and Hinduism, has a past that is unmatched anywhere in the
world. It was the center of first republic in the world at Vaishali and the
city of Pataliputra was largest and grandest in the world at the height of
its glory. There is an array of tourist destinations of diverse interests in
the state, though their potential has not been exploited fully till now.
Starting from the world famous Buddhist Circuit to the Patna Sahib of Patna
and Mithila Paintings of Madhubani to silk production center of Bhagalpur,
the state has much to offer to the tourists. More than anything else, it is
the present image of the state that is not allowing the state to be a
frontrunner in attracting tourists.
Geography of Bihar
Bihar is located in the eastern region of India, bordering Nepal in the
North, West Bengal in the east, Uttar Pradesh in the West, and Jharkhand in
the South. North Gangetic plain is an extension of the Tarai region of Nepal
with many tributaries of Ganges like Koshi, Gandak, Baghmati, and Kamla
Balan flowing through it.
It is a flood prone region and one of the most backward
regions in the country. Central Bihar, south of Ganges, is a region with rich
agricultural resources. Most of the north and central Bihar is plain with no
Brief History of Bihar
The early history of Bihar is lost as the major events and happenings were not
documented but with the advent of Jain and Buddhist texts documentation of
events began. And from these texts we get to know about the sixteen
Mahajanapadas that flourished during the 6th century BC.
Vaishali, Anga, Rajgriha, Pataliputra, Nalanda, and
Mithila are just a few of the places in Bihar that knit the history of ancient
India. Vaishali in northern Bihar, the center of the Lichchavi kingdom is rated
as the most ancient and credited as the world's first republic. It got its aura
of sanctity with the birth of Lord Mahavira here. This was also the favorite
resting place of Lord Buddha and he preached his last sermon here, which was
later commemorated by a lion capital erected by King Ashoka.
The legends of the courtesan Ambapali's exquisite beauty
added to the glory and charm of Vaishali. By the fifth century BC, the focus of
history shifted to Magadh with its capital at Rajgriha (seen as the first
recorded capital in Indian history), and later Pataliputra. Rajgriha witnessed
the first Buddhist Council and the conversion of the Mauryan king Bimbisara to
Buddhism. During the last days of the Buddha, the political masters thought of
shifting their capital from Rajgriha to Pataliputra, which gradually became the
pride of Asia and subsequently the capital to the great empires of Nandas,
Mauryas, Sungas and Guptas. It was here that Megasthenes spent most of his time
as an Ambassador of his Syrian king Seleukos Nikator.
During the medieval period, except for the brief twinkle of Sher Shah's reign
who rose from his base in Bihar to the sultanate of Delhi that ruled over the
entire country, the province of Bihar rarely enjoyed the status of an
independent state; rather it swayed with the fortunes of Delhi, Jaunpur and
Various sultans of Delhi and later the Mughals, as well as
emperors and princes, criss-crossed Bihar in order to crush the rebellions in
distant Bengal. Much later, Babur, in pursuit of the Lodhis, came as far as
Bihar. Babur's death brought Humayun to the throne of Delhi and he had a hard
time fighting his Afghan adversary from Bihar, Sher Shah. Most of their decisive
battles were fought in and around Bihar. Sher Shah was more than a match for
Humayun and gradually he paved his way to the throne of Delhi. During his brief
reign of five years, Sher Shah proved himself to be one of the greatest rulers
of medieval India.
After the coming of the British to India, Bihar again
played an important role in deciding the future course of the country and Buxar
became the place where the final battle for supremacy in north India was fought
between the East India Company and the combined forces of the Mughals, and
Nawabs of Bengal and Awadh in 1764.
Bihar was part of the Bengal presidency till 1911, when a
separate province comprising Bihar and Orissa was created. In 1936, Bihar was
made an independent province. Apart from the documented history, Bihar finds
mention in the legends and tales related to the Ramayan.
It is believed that the Goddess Sita, the wife of Lord
Ram, was born in Mithila to King Janak, the ruler of the region.
Government of Bihar
Nitish Kumar is the Chief Minister of the Bihar. He is one of the leaders of
Janata Dal (United) party. In November 2005, he led the National Democratic
Alliance to a victory in the Bihar Assembly elections bringing to an end the
15-year rule of the Lalu Prasad Yadav led Rashtriya Janata Dal in the state.
Districts of Bihar
Bihar is divided into 37 districts for administrative purposes - Aurangabad,
Begusarai, Bhagalpur, Banka, Bhojpur, Buxar, Bhabhua (Kaimur), Darbhanga, East
Champaran, Gaya, Goplaganj, Jahanabad Arwal, Jamui, Katihar, Khagaria,
Kishanganj, Lakshisarai, Madhepura, Madhubani, Munger, Muzaffarpur, Nalanda,
Nawada, Patna, Purnea, Rohtas, Saharsa, Samastipur, Saran, Shekhpura, Sheohar,
Sitamari,SiwanSupaul,Vaishali & West Champaran
Economy of Bihar
The State is well linked by road, state highways, national highways, rural and
The State has fairly good railway network.
There are airports at Patna and Gaya besides landing
grounds in all major districts of the State. After the division of state, most
of the industries went off with mineral-rich Jharkhand.
Rest of the industries that the Bihar inherited from its
earlier incarnation is mostly agro based. North Bihar has many sugar factories
relying on the traditionally good production of sugarcane in the state.
Barauni is the only major industrial center in the state
where one can find an oil refinery and many allied industries. Munger has a
large cigarette factory of ITC group. Bhagalpur is known for its silk production
while Patna is home to many small-scale industries, many of them dealing in
Other than Barauni, there are 2 more important industrial centres namely- Muzaffarpur and Mokama. Muzaffarpur is having industries like Rail Wagon factory, power station and IDPL factory where as Mokama houses important units like Rail wagon factory, Bata leather factory and McDowell Distllary.
Agriculture is the main occupation the people of the
State. Principal food grain crops are paddy, wheat, maize, and pulses. Main cash
crops are sugarcane, potato, tobacco, oilseeds, onion, chilies, and jute.
Bihar Travel Information
Most of the tourist places of Bihar have strong connections with the great
religions of the world like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and Hinduism. Witness to
the glorious teachings of the some of the most pious minds of the past, the
state attracts people from all religions and faiths.
There are few pilgrimage destinations in India that are
sacred to different religions and most of them are in Bihar itself. Places like
Patna, Rajgir, and Vaishali are sacred to all the important faiths and that is a
great achievement of Bihar. Famous destinations for tourism are Patna, Rajgir,
Bodhgaya, Gaya, Nalanda and Vaishali.
Rivers of Bihar
One of the most striking feature of the river system of Bihar is the dominant
role of Ganga. The important rivers that join the Ganga from the north are
Ghaghra, Gandak, Burhi Gandak, Kosi, Mahananda and its tributaries. Sonpur,
which is situated along Ganga's bank is famous for the great bathing festival,
which is the occasion for the greatest cattle and elephant fair in the world.
The principal streams, which join Ganga from South, are Karmanasa, Sone, Punpun,
Phalgu, Sakri and Kiul.
Education of Bihar
Historically, Bihar has been a major center of learning, home to the
universities of Nalanda (one of the earliest universities of India dating back
to the fifth century) and Vikramshila. Unfortunately, that tradition of learning
which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during
the medieval period when marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these
centers of learning.
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the state government took over management
of most privately-run schools. This adversely affected school education in the
state since the state government was ill equipped to manage the schools through
its bureaucrats who were trained for law and order duties. Though the state
accorded them government recognition, the standard started to fall. Thankfully,
the state did not take over the schools run by the Christian missionaries and
these schools provided a fillip to quality education in Bihar. As in other
states, the central government runs a number of Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central
Schools) and Jawahar Navodaya Schools for rural students. Jawahar Navodaya
Schools started by the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi have been particularly
successful in providing quality education to the weaker sections of the society.
The number of Private schools, including school-chains and
Missionary Schools run by Christian Missionaries as well as Madrasas, or schools
run by Muslim clerics, has increased in the post liberalisation era. Most of the
schools in Bihar are affiliated with the Bihar School Examination Board, while
the Kendriya Vidyalay and a few other elite schools including the Christian
Missionary Schools are affiliated to the ICSE and CBSE boards. Bihar has twelve
universities recognised by the state.
Bihar is placed poorly with respect to the literacy rate as per 2001 census with
overall literacy of 47.53%. Although the male literacy rate is somewhat better
at 60.32%, the famale literacy is very poor at 33.57% and is a major deterrent
for the developmenet of the state.
Food of Bihar
The cuisine of the state is an interesting mix of North and East Indian cuisine.
Rice, pulses, and roti are the most common food consumed by the people of this
state. One exclusive item of this state is Sattu (gram powder), commonly taken
as a mixture with water, salt, and limejuice. A favorite breakfast all over the
state is Chura-Dahi (flattened rice and curd) taken together with sugar or
The influence of Bengal is evident in the way large
quantities of fish are consumed in the state. There are several specialty sweets
that are made all over the state for special occasions. Khaja, tilkut, anarsa
and thekuwa are some of the preparations that form a part of every sweet-toothed
Arts & Culture of Bihar
People of the Bihar are Aryans who came from Central Asia and entered this
province in around 600 years before Christ after defeating the aboriginal
people. According to the legends, great sage Agastya was the first person who
crossed the river Gandak and burnt down Dandakaranya (forest of this region as
it was known in the Vedic times). Patna Qalam and Mithila paintings are two of
the most impressive and popular crafts of Bihar. With the decline of the Mughals,
the Delhi artists migrated to Murshidabad (a great center of commerce and a
flourishing town of the Nawabs). When this Bengal hamlet did not hold the
artists for long, they thought of Bihar. Some of them came over to Patna and
practiced their craft following a style that gradually came to be known as the
Patna Qalam. The style is famous for its soft colors and the use of hand made
paper or mica sheets. Most of these paintings depict the day-to-day life of the
people of Bihar.
Madhubani, in the heart of the Mithila region, had a rich tradition of wall
paintings done by the village women. Hit by a severe drought in 1966, an artist
encouraged them to try their wall paintings on paper. The idea was a great
success and since then Mithila paintings gained ground. These line paintings in
primary colors normally depict village scenes, human and animal forms, gods and
goddesses. A kind of artistic emotion can be observed in these paintings.
Tulsidas gives an elaborate description of how the entire Mithila region was
decorated for the wedding of Sita with Ram. Bhagalpur is famous for its silk
industry all over the world and is considered one of the best silk producing
centers in India. Other crafts of Bihar include Sujni embroidery, lac bangle
making, and creation of decorative and utility items of Seenki (a local dried
Dance & Music of Bihar
Jat-Jatin Dance of the Mithila region is performed by the Harijans (name given
to the lower castes by Mahatma Gandhi) where one person performs the role of Jat
(the husband) and Jatin (the wife) wearing masks and goes through the story of
their life. Bidesia, a form of dance drama is extremely popular in the
Bhojpuri-speaking region of Bihar. The region of Mithilanchal is famous for its
cultural heritage and the songs of Vidyapati (famous poet of early medieval age)
can be heard even now in the evenings from several homes throughout the region.
Bhojpuri folksongs are popular throughout the country and second to none when it
comes to beats and rhythm.
Costumes of Bihar
Sari is the most popular attire for women all over the state. The salwar-kameez
is also popular especially with the younger and urban women. The traditional
attire for men includes dhoti, kurta, and kharaun (wooden sandal). However, men
have taken to the more convenient attire of shirts and pants, though western
wear is not so common among women. In Mithila, a unique part of a man's dress is
the Paag, a turban whose color is meant to symbolize the status of the man
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