Rajgir, meaning the abode of gods, is a town in Nalanda district about 93 km southeast of Patna. It was ruled by King Jarasandh of Mahabharat and even finds mention in the Hindu epic. Though the exact date of origin is not known it is believed the city is about 3000-years-old.
The city is divided in to two parts. The fortified part is surrounded by seven hills and the other part was established by King Bimbisara’s son, Ajatshatru.
There are two local beliefs about the name of the town. One belief is that the town gets its name from the Hindi word ‘rajgriha’ which means royal house and the other belief is that the town gets its name from the Hindi word ‘rajgir’ which means royal mountain. Rajgir remained the capital of Magadha till the 5th century BC when Ajatshatru made Pataliputra the capital of his kingdom.
The town finds mention in the Mahabharata as Girviraj. Jarasandh was from Rajgir and he had defeated Krishna 17 times but during the 18th encounter, Krishna fled the battlefield as he had forsaken arms.
King Jarasandh it is believed was slain by Bheem in a wrestling match. A wrestling arena known as Jarasandh’s Akhada stands at the place where it is believed the wrestling match took place.
Along with the Mahabharat, the town has been mentioned in ancient scriptures of the Jains and Buddhists as well as in diaries of Buddhist travellers who visited the region during the Mauryan era.
The town has been an important part of major religions like Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Relics connected with Jain and Buddhist religion have been unearthed during archaeological excavations. Gautam Buddha is said to have spent many months in meditation on Gridhakut which means Hill of Vultures. Mahavir spent about 14 years of his life in Rajgir and in nearby regions.
The ropeway can be used to reach the Vishwa Shanti Stupa. A ride on the ropeway provides amazing views of the town and the Shanti Stupa itself. The ropeway can take only one person at a time.
The hot springs, known for their medicinal values and religious value, are popular among pilgrims and tourists. There town is surrounded by hills all around which give numerous opportunities to go trekking.
There are a few temples and Maniyar Math that is dedicated to Mani Naag, the local deity. There are other places of interest in the town like Bimbisar’s Jail which was built by Ajatshatru to imprison his father.
Where to stay
There are a few budget and mid-range hotels located near the railway station and on state highway 71. There are three tourist bungalows maintained by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation that offer ample space for big groups at affordable rates.