Giant Buddha (25 m) at Bodhgaya, Bihar, India.
Bihar has the third largest population in India despite being its 12th largest state. It has a particularly young demographic and most of its population remains in villages, as opposed to occupying the more modern and industrial cities.
This area once consisted of Videha, Anga, Magadha and Vaishali. Combined, these formed the epicentre of India’s education, culture and power systems. The Maurya Empire actually arose out of Magadha, as did Buddhism and the Gupta Empire. These are some of the most important supporting pillars of Indian culture and religion to this day. At this stage, Magadha was responsible for merging large parts of South Asia under a common rulership and, thereby, ensuring a certain amount of cooperation and mutual respect amongst these.
When the Muslim invasion occurred in the 12th century, thousands of Buddhist monks were slaughtered, universities were desecrated and the religion was devastated. After several dynasties and rulers, Bihar came to be under British rulership, along with the rest of India. In the first half of the 20th century, certain parts of Bihar were separated from their existing classification and came to be the province of Orissa. Bihar was also significant as it was the birthplace of the last of the Sikh’s human Gurus and was the base from which Mahatma Gandhi began many of his movements.
Bihar is bordered by Jharkhand and Nepal and lies right between West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. West Bengal is particularly humid and Uttar Pradesh is sub-humid. Bihar consists mainly of a flat plain, the water of which drains into the sacred Ganges River. There are tributaries that come from the Himalayan Mountain Range and those that originate in the Kathmandu Valley. December and January are the winter months and can drop to daytime highs of about 10 degrees Celsius. Summers (April to June) are very hot, and visitors can expect noon temperatures of about 40 degrees. Most tourists prefer to visit in the more temperate months of October, November, February and March.
Due to its varied climate and topography, Bihar presents a range of plants and animals with the ideal habitat in which to flourish. The heavy rainfall means that the vegetation is lush and dense, with several forests providing spectacular sights and awesome fauna and flora. The national aquatic animal of India is the Sois, or Ganges River Dolphin. This animal occurs only in Ganga and Brahmaputra and is endangered. One of the main attractions in this area is the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary.
Although Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of Bihar, most of its inhabitants speak one of the Bihari languages, which comprise Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi or Maithili. This state is home to over 80 million people. Over the past few centuries, it has continued to attract migrants and is, therefore, a particularly diverse state. People of Asian, Turkish, Bengali, Persian and Afghan descent made their way to this fertile land. Their offspring continue to cultivate and survive off the land. Bihar’s land produces almost a third of the country’s litchis. It is also responsible for much of the mango, pineapple, cauliflower and cabbage production. The cuisine of the area focuses on vegetables due to their abundance. However, meat is always a favourite and is included in many traditional recipes.
Tourists are urged to visit:
• The remains of Vaishali, an ancient city
• Rajgir for a fun trolley ride
• Mahabodhi Temple
• Mahatma Gandhi Setu (the longest river bridge in the world)
For more information, please view: http://www.biharonline.gov.in/