Mindtree takeover battle: SEBI urged to probe Nalanda Capital’s conduct

Source: moneycontrol.com

Soon after the announcement of L&T’s open offer for 31 percent stake in Mindtree, a section of the investors’ community has complained to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), fanning the flames of discord between L&T and Mindtree promoters on the proposed transaction. CNBC-TV18 has learnt that a section of the domestic investors has complained to the market regulator about the conduct of Nalanda Capital and has charged it with acting in concert with the promoters of Mindtree.

In a fresh round of charges, minority shareholders of L&T have asked if Nalanda Capital is acting in concert with the Mindtree promoters and a few other investors. If so, their combined shareholding as persons acting in concert (PAC) certainly exceeds the regulatory threshold of 25 percent (as per regulations 3(1) and 4 of SAST regulations) which obliges them to make an open offer, or in this case a competing offer to L&T’s open offer as that got announced first.

According to sources, minority shareholders of L&T, mostly mutual funds, may have urged SEBI “to investigate and take appropriate action against the people involved in this violation of rules meant to safeguard the interest of minority shareholders.”

Mindtree has proposed an astronomical dividend pay-out of Rs 24/share this year, which is much higher than their dividend payout in past many years. This will erode the company of almost half its cash reserves at a time when another company is in the process of acquiring it and their open offer price factors in the cash component as part of the valuation. This may also lure the shareholders to hold on to the stock and not tender shares in the open offer as the record date for the dividend is early July, after the open offer date of June 17 to June 28.

Nalanda University’s crucial board meeting in Delhi on Thursday

Source: hindustantimes.com

Nalanda University (NU) is set to hold its first governing board (GB) meeting since February 2018 at its Delhi office on Thursday.

The 17th GB meeting is crucial as it will pave the way for shifting of academic activities to its upcoming sprawling 455-acre campus to the north of Rajgir hills, besides approving new proposals and reviewing ongoing admissions.

The varsity’s board was re-constituted in November 2016 with all new members. The lone member of the Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) retaining his position and the Indian government’s representative in the new GB was former Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament N K Singh, presently chairman of the 15th finance commission.

In January 2017, the university also got a new Chancellor in Dr Vijay Bhatkar, following the resignation of George Yeo on November 25 in the wake of dissolution of NMG. In May, Prof Sunaina Singh also took over as the new vice-chancellor.

Set up in 2014 to recreate the glory and academic excellence of ancient Nalanda and serve as an intellectual bridge between India and East Asia, the NU witnessed a flurry of activities in 2016-17, which led to a complete change of guard.

There were also reports of faculty attrition in NU, but the V-C played it down, saying it was nothing abnormal.

“Some people have left as their term ended, others left as they got better avenues in locations of their choice, while there were also those who found it tough to continue in the disciplined atmosphere that we are striving to enforce on the campus. We have enough faculty members of quality for our schools and new ones are also coming in,” said V-C Sunaina Singh, who took over in the wake of sexual harassment slur on the NU.

However, the biggest plus for NU is that it is now set to move to its campus. Former President Pranab Mukhejee had laid the foundation stone of the campus on August 27, 2016.

“The work is on schedule and the first phase comprising five main buildings has been completed. The campus, likely to be fully ready by 2020, will go beyond the highest green building features as per government guidelines, i.e. a rating of 5 under GRIHA. We plan to start teaching this year itself from the new campus, as adequate facilities are ready now,” said the VC.

At present, NU has four schools, but a few new centres are in the pipeline, including one on the Bay of Bengal Studies, which was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi while addressing the member states of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) at Katmandu on August 31, 2018.

The Government of India would also cover 30 scholarships to member states (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) to conduct research on Bay of Bengal region at the NU. Another centre in the offing is on sustainable development.

At present, admissions in NU is on and the first cycle has been completed, while the second cycle is set to begin.

NU also plans to start Ph.D programmes from this year, which was earlier approved by the academic council.

In Bihar, women give ‘birth’ to 5 children in 2 months

A woman, as everyone knows, usually gives birth to a baby after nine months of pregnancy, but in Bihar 298 women claim to have delivered two to five children in a span of 60 days – at least that’s what records of incentives amount given to new mothers under a government scheme show.

A woman gets around Rs.1,000 when she gives birth under the government’s Janani Suraksha Yojana but a total of Rs.6.6 lakh was paid as incentive to 298 women who claimed to have delivered two to five children within 60 days under the scheme, says a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) that exposes corruption in the state.

These irregularities were found in the year 2008-09 in the districts of Bhagalpur, East Champaran, Gopalganj, Kishanganj and Nalanda, according to the CAG report 2009 tabled in the monsoon session of the state assembly that concluded last week.

“The concerned officials paid incentives under the Janani Suraksha Yojana to these women two to five times in 60 days,” the report says.

Unfortunately, thousands of genuine lactating mothers were denied the incentive due to them. The CAG report says that of 470,307 new mothers, 97,146 were not provided cash incentives under the Janani Suraksha Yojana for want of funds. Also, payment of Rs.25.19 crore to 1.8 lakh beneficiaries were made after a delay ranging between eight and 732 days.

Opposition leaders criticised the state government for the corruption in the implementation of the Janani Suraksha Yojana in the state.

“All this is happening in Bihar when Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is claiming good governance. This is just a trailer of the unbelievable corruption in implementation of welfare schemes,” Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) state president Abdul Bari Siddiqui said.

Said Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) youth leader Gopal Sharma: “High corruption during Nitish Kumar’s four-and-a-half year rule has eaten into welfare schemes like in the case of Janani Suraksha Yojana exposed by the CAG report.”

Sufi Destinations in bihar

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.

Khankah Mujibia (Phulwari Sharif, Patna): 
Nearly 7 kms from Patna Railway Station, Phulwari Sharif is an important Islamic pilgrimage. It has been always a favorite abode of Sufi saints in various times. Hazrat Pir Muzibullah Quadri was one of those in the 18th Century. The Khankah Muzibia, founded by him at Phulwari Sharif is called the Bari Khankah. An old Madarsa here has been the most important centre for teaching of Islamic philosophy since its establishment.
Sacred hairs of the beard of Paigamber Hazrat Muhammad Saheb are preserved here in Banri Khankah that attracts throngs of his followers and a big mela is held every year.
There is also an archeologically important and worth seeing ancient Sangi Masjid (mosque) built of red stones at Phulwari Sharif. It was built by the Mughal Emperor Humayun.

Khankah Emadia (Mangal Talab, Patna City, Patna):
 One of the off-springs in the family of prominent Sufi Saint Hazrat Pir Muzibullah Quadri had founded another Khankah during 19th century near a tank called Mangal Talab that is situated in the Patna City Chowk area. It is called Khankah Emadia that houses a Madarsa. An Urs is held here annually when throngs of devotees assemble and pay their respect to their beloved Sufi Saint.

Dargah Sharif, Mithan Ghat (Patna City, Patna): 
A beautiful double storied mosque was built by Mughal Prince Azim on the banks of Ganges at Mittan Ghat, Patna City area that was previously called Azimabad during the reign of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. This mosque was built for Mulla Mittan who was teacher of the Prince. It was the place from where the great Sufi Saint Hazrat Makhdum Munnem used to preach his disciples during the 18th Century. The ancient mosque still exists and is popularly known as Dargah Sharif. Every year, after 5 days of “the Eid festival, an annual Urs Chiraga is held here when devotees assemble at this Dargah Sharif in great numbers. 

Hajipur Karbala (Vaishali): 
It was constructed 175 years ago by Shah Alam. It attracts a large crowd of Muslims throughout the years.

Hasanpura (Siwan): 
The village is situated about 21 kms South of Siwan on the bank of Dhanai river. According to tradition, Makhdum Saiyed Hasan Chisti, a saint who came from Arabia to India and settled here, founded this village. He also founded a Khankah (religious institution) here. The village contains remains of a large mosque and tomb of the Saint, which is visited by both Hindus and Muslims. The grave is a large open court to the west of the village. In front of it is a basalt image of Vishnu but it has been ruthlessly treated. It is regarded as an inauspicious fiend who has turned into stone by the holy Makdum and must not be raised or placed erect. It contains no inscription but its style shows it to belong to about the seventh century A.D.

Bibi Kamaal Sahiba (Kako, Jehanabad): 
The village is the headquarters of the block of the same name and is situated on the Jehanabad-Bihar Sharif road, about 10 kms East of Jehanabad railway tation. According to a local legend, Ram Chandra’s stepmother, Rani Kaikeyi of Ayodhya lived here for sometime and the village took its name after her. The village took its name after her. The village has also a tomb of Hazrat Bibi Kamaal Sahiba, a great Muslim lady saint. It is said that this lady was the aunt of Hazrat Makhdum Saheb of Bihar Sharif and possessed divine powers.

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.

Chhoti Dargah (Bihar Sharif, Nalanda): 
Dargah of Makhdum Hazrat Sultan Ahmed Charampose, Bihar Sharif (Nalanda). The biggest and the oldest building of Mohalla-Amber in the Bihar Sharif Town (Nalanda), is Tomb of Hazarat Makhdum Sultan Saiyad Shah Ahmed Charampose Teg Barhana Rohmatulla Alaib. He was born in the year 1236 and passed away in 1335 (according to Islamic calendar 657-776 Hizri). He is ranked to a very high order among other Sufi saints and Auliahs. Thousands and thousand of people participate in the ‘Urs’ celebrated here in memory of the Saint every year.

TOURISTS ATTRACTIONS IN BIHAR

Patna is a city abounding in the relics of the bygone ages. Takht Harmandir Saheb is of religious importance to the Sikhs and is believed to be the place of birth of the last Sikh guru, Govind Singh. The Jalan Museum with a rare collection of curios. Sher Shah’s mosque in the heart of the city is a splendid example of Afghan architecture. Among the numerous mosques in Patna, Begum Hajjam’s mosque stands as the oldest. Saif Khan’s Madarsa mosque, built in 1630, commands a magnificent view of the riverfront. Saif was married to Malika Bano, the elder sister of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of emperor Shahjahan. Excavations at Kumhrar have yielded the remains of a Mauryan palace with sandstone pillars. One can still see Agam Kuan or the fathomless well, which was part of Ashoka’s hell for prisoners. The famous Mahendru Ghat in today’s Patna is the reminder of Mahendru (Ashoka’s brother) who had sailed from this very Ghat to Ceylon in order to preach Buddhism. The Khuda Baksh Oriental library is a treasure trove of medieval manuscripts. The Patna Museum is noted for its collection of statues and a very old fossilized tree, 16 meters high. Close to the museum is the Gol Ghar, the 29 meter high beehive shaped granary constructed in 1786, following a terrible famine. The Patna Cemetery is a historically important European monument situated in what was once a Haveli (mansion) and is now a hospital. Some distance from the cemetery is the Padri ki Haveli, a Catholic church with an imposing façade.

Thirty kilometers from Patna is Maner, a medieval stronghold of the Turks and the site of the shrines of Hazrat Makhdum Yahya Maneri and his son Shafruddin Ahmed Maneri.

Tour to Bihar The remains of an ancient fort with massive cyclopean walls together with other sites amidst lush green surroundings of Rajgriha recreate the glory of the past. Until the discovery of Mohenjodaro and Harappa, this was believed to be the oldest architectural remains in India. The site is equally revered by the Jains, as their 24 Tirthankars are believed to have practiced austerities on the different hills of Rajgriha. The Jal Mandir at Pawapuri (the sinless city) marks the site where Vardhamana Mahavira (the 24th Tirthankar) was cremated while Parasnath hill is associated with the Nirvana of the 23rd Tirthankar, Sri Parsvanath.

Nalanda, in the heart of Bihar, stands as the world’s most ancient seat of learning. The ruins confirm the university’s ability to cater to the needs of 10,000 students until the 12th century AD. The excavations have yielded numerous monasteries, temples, stupas and statues of Buddha. The Vikramshila University was an important institution of Tantric Buddhism and there was a regular exchange of teachers between the two universities.

Bodh Gaya houses the site of the sacred Mahabodhi tree where the Buddha attained enlightenment. Adjoining the tree is the high-spired Mahabodhi temple considered to be the most sacred shrine for Buddhists. Add to this the Hindu legend of Gaya, which was the name of a demon that grew so powerful that the gods felt threatened. As a pre-condition to his death, he demanded that the area covered by his body should be one of the holiest spots of the world. This land is believed to be Gaya.

Rajmahal is a medieval settlement on the eastern fringe of Bihar. It is believed to have been founded by Raja Man Singh, the Rajput general of Emperor Akbar. It was earlier a strategic place for the Bengal sultans who pitched their advance tent here before moving on to any military campaign.

The picturesque mausoleum of Sher Shah at Sasaram, outdoes the Taj Mahal in size, with a dome that surpasses it by 13 feet. Also at Sasaram we find the mausoleum of Sher Shah’s father, Hasan Shah Sur. No less picturesque is the tomb of Sher Shah’s son, Salim Shah, built in the center of a lake. On the outskirts of the village is the tomb of Aliwal Khan, the chief architect working for Sher Shah. A few hours’ drive from Sasaram takes one to the Rohtasgarh fort. In the words of Abul Fazal it is “a well defended paradise (fort) with no equal for strength and solidity.” The fort, 28 miles in circumference, is a perfect platform for eco-tourism projects. It is perched high on the Kaimur hills and there are abundant springs and numerous monuments that bring to life the history of its Mughal and Afghan governors and still later the Britishers who almost destroyed the surviving parts.

The Chotanagpur plateau spread over 34,000 square miles that encompass the southern half of Bihar, is one of the most fascinating places in India. There is no end to scenic attractions, waterfalls, deciduous forests, hills (rising up to 3,000 feet), plateaus (at an elevation of 1,000 feet), valleys, wildlife, and of course the aboriginals, who predominate this region. Add to this the salubrious climate that makes the region an ideal getaway.

The oldest geological formation of India are found in the Chotanagpur plateau of Bihar that also stores a vast deposit of a variety of minerals that cater to national and international needs. Bihar, on an average accounts for half the total output of coal and mica, the whole of copper and about 45 per cent of the iron produced in India. It is also the only region in the country to have Uranium mines.

Prominent places in Chotanagpur include Ranchi (2,140 feet), a picturesque hill station that inspired Tagore to compose a book of poems; Netarhat or the ‘queen of Chotanagpur’ is perched at 3,700 feet and offers beautiful sunset and sunrise views; Palamau is famous for its tropical forest and is rich in wildlife, and is the place where the world’s first tiger census was conducted in 1932. As of today, there are 45 tigers in the reserve and they are now said to be venturing out in search of new territories. No less interesting is the Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary nestling at a low terrain (1,800 feet). Hazaribagh is also vying for a place in the international heritage list for its recent findings of rock paintings, caves, stone age tools and smelted iron slag that shows a much early advent of the Iron Age than the theorized Chalcolithic age. At another village in Hazaribagh, the archaeologists have unearthed densely packed layer of pottery shards that are identical to those found at Harappa.

Tourist places in Nalanda

Introduction The ancient town in Bihar was once home to the world’s first university for higher learning. Nalanda is about 90 km southeast of Patna. Nalanda means “giver of knowledge”. 
The university at Nalanda began as a Buddhist monastery. Lord Buddha stayed at Nalanda several times in the local mango grove.

Nalanda

Lord Mahavir is also believed to have attained ‘moksha’ at Pawapuri, which is located in Nalanda. Also, according to one sect of Jainism, he was born in the nearby village, Kundalpur. 
Interestingly, there’s a Nalanda Buddhist Centre (NBC) in Brazil. Set up in 1989, the centre was so named as a tribute to the great legacy of Nalanda, The NBC was the second Theravada Buddhist tradition centre set up in Brazil 22 years after the Sri Lankan temple was first established.

Places of Interest

WHAT TO LOOK FOR 
Ruins of ancient Nalanda 
 
The university of Nalanda was established in 450 AD under the patronage of the Gupta emperors, notably Kumaragupta. It was one of the world’s first residential universities. Its dormitories accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers.

The Nalanda varsity had eight separate compounds and ten temples besjdes many meditation halls and classrooms. There were also lakes and parks. The subjects taught at the university covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from as far as Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia and Turkey, among other countries.

Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang has given a detailed account of the university. The terracotta seal of Nalanda University has been put on display in the ASI Museum at Nalanda. 
  
Pawapuri 
 
Lord Mahavir attained ‘nirvana’ (salvation from the endless cycle of life and death) at Pawapuri,and thus the placeis a holy site for Jains.It is located 38 km from Rajgir in Nalanda district and 90 km from Patna,and it was here that Lord Mahavir,the last of the 24 Jain Tirthankars,breathed his last around 500 BC. He was cremated at Pawapuri,also known as APapuri (the sinless town).

There was a great rush to collect his ashes,and, as a result, so much soil was removed from the place of his cremation that a pond was created.Now, an exquisite marble temple, Jalmandir, stands magnificently on a rectangular island in the middle of the pond.

There’s another Jain temple, Samosharan, here. This is the placewhere Lord Mahavir delivered his last sermon 
  
Kundalpu  
Just 1.6 km from the ruins of Nalanda is this place called Kundalpur. The Digambar sect of Jains believes that the 24th and the last Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir, was born here. There are many Jain temples in this village. 
  
Multimedia Museum 
 
India’s first multimedia museum was opened here on January26, 2008. It has a section that recreates the history of Nalanda using a 3D animation film with narration by TV and movie actor Shekhar Suman. There are four more sections in the Multimedia Museum Geographical Perspective Historical Perspective,Hall o Nalanda and Revival o Nalanda. 
  
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Museum 
Nalanda,the archaeological museum set up in 1917, housesthe antiquities,mainly those excavated from the earliest university cum monastery complex at Nalanda and from Rajgir. Out of 13,463 antiquities, 349 are on display in the four galleries of the museum. The antiquities from Nalanda are datable from 5th to 12th century AD but some of those from Rajgir are a little older. The sculptures kept in this museum are made of stone, bronzes, stucco and terracotta but majority of those have been carved on basalt stone.
Most of the idols belong to the Buddhist faith but there are also those belonging to Jain and Hindu religions.
A scale model of excavated remains of Nalanda university occupies the central place of the hall. There are 57 idols and sculptures displayed in the first gallery.
Opening hour:10 am to 5 pm
Friday closed
Entrance fee: Rs 2 per head
Free entry for children up to 15 years  
  
Xuanzang Memorial Hall 
 
A memorial has been built and named after the Chinese traveller and scholar monk, Xuanzang, who was a student at Nalanda and subsequently became a teacher at the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara.The magnificent hall is located barely 1.3 km away from the ruins of Nalanda.
It was in January 1957 that India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on behalf of the government of India, received the relics of Xuanzang along with his biographyand an endowment for the construction of a hall in his memory from His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lamaof Tibet. The initiative was aimed at enhancingthe cultural relationship between India and China. The construction work started in 1960 and was completed in 1984. The relics of Xuanzang have been preserved in the Patna Museum. 


HOW TO REACH

The road between Patna and Ragir-Nalanda-Pawapuri is in excellent condition. Private and state transport buses ply between Patna and Biharsharif, the district HQ town of Nalanda. Tempos or horse-driven carts can be hired from Biharsharif for Rajgir. Alternatively, one can hire a taxi from Patna to Rajgir-Nalanda-Pawapuri. There’s also a direct train between Delhi and Nalanda. Called Shramjeevi Express (2391 Up/2392 Dn), it runs via Patna. 
  
By Air:

Nearest Airport 
Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport, Patna, 100 km away. 
  
  
By Rail: 
  
Nearest railhead
 
Nalanda. 
  
By Road: 
Connected by good roads with all major cities of India. 
  
Where to Stay: 
There are several hotels in and around Rajgir. Apart from hotels, tourists can opt for tourist bungalows or government-owned hotels or guest houses

Indo-Hokke Hotel (3-star facilities), Phone: 255231, Fax: 255245
Rajgir Residency (2-star facilities), Phone: 255404, Fax: 255405
Hotel Tathagat Vihar, Phone: 255176, Fax: 255176
Hotel Siddhartha, Phone: 255216, Fax: 255352

Emergency, Contact

Nalanda District Magistrate: 235203, 235204, Fax: 235205
Nalanda Superintendent of Police: 235207, Fax: 233978
Rajgir Dy Superintendent of Police: 255461
Rajgir Police Station: 255258

Medical Emergencies, Contact Rajgir Hospital: 255102 

Local Transport: 
Auto rickshaws, Cycle-rickshaws, tangas. 

Tourist Season 
From October to February. From mid-December to the end of January, temperature here ranges from 5 degree C to 15 degree C. May and June are hot and the mercury goes up to 46 degree C. It’s monsoon time towards the end of June. 

Clothing: 
Light cotton in summer and woolen in winter (specially during November to January).

Buddhism in Bihar

Bihar as a state
Bihar is a state of the Indian union situated in the eastern part of the country. With its capital at Patna (ancient Patliputra, the capital of ancient India), Bihar was once the most developed region of the ancient India. Ruled by the great Mauryans and the Guptas, Bihar is also the land of the famous diplomat Chanakya, the author of ‘The Arthashatra’ (literally ‘the Science of Material Gain’ in Sanskrit). But, today this land of Karna (of Mahabharata) Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Gobind Singh and Ashoka, is unfortunately one of the most under-developed states of India.

Irrigated by the holy Ganges, Bihar is pre-dominantly an agricultural land, which is a sufferer in the hands of political anarchy prevailing in the state, but it still has a lot to offer to its tourists.

Significance of Buddhism in Bihar
The term ‘Bihar’ derives from the Sanskrit word ‘Vihara’, which means abode and it itself explains the relation of Bihar with the viharas, used as the Buddhist abode. The land of Bihar is considered to be the richest one in context of Buddhism as it showered the divine light of enlightenment on a young ascetic, Siddhartha Gautama, who had denounced all the luxuries of life in search of the truth. The Tathagata preached many of His sermons in different places of Bihar like Vaishali and Rajgir or Rajgriha to name a few. Even after His Mahaprinirvana, His disciples carried on the doctrine of Buddhism in the regions of Magadha or Bihar by setting up several monasteries and universities of Nalanda and much later, at Vikramshila. However, the contribution of the Indian emperor Ashoka(whose capital was at Patliputra, modern Patna) in the history of Buddhism cannot be ignored as it was he, who after becoming a Buddhist, patronised Buddhism as his state religion and spread its doctrine, Dhamma in different parts of India and abroad as far as Sri Lanka, Greece and Egypt.

Major Buddhist Places in Bihar

    *  Bodhgaya  : Bodh Gaya is one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Bihar. It was at Bodh Gaya, where a young ascetic, Siddhartha Gautama in His search of the reality of life, meditated under a Peepal tree, attained enlightenment and became the Buddha or the Tathagata. Today, Bodh Gaya, a home to Maha Bodhi temple, Maha Bodhi tree and numerous monasteries, is a venerated place among the Buddhists from all the corners of the world, who visit the place to mark the enlightenment of the Buddha.

    * Nalanda : ‘Nalanda’, which means the place that confers the lotus, emerged as an important Buddhist university and religious centres in the 4th-5th century CE. The scholars of the Nalanda monastic university such as Bodhidharma and others took Buddhism to other parts of the world, China, Korea and Japan to name a few. Though in ruins today, Nalanda is an inseparable part of the state and its history.

    * Vaishali : Located in Bihar near Patna, Vaishali was the first place visited by Siddhartha Gautama in India, when he left home as an ascetic. Once again, it was at Vaishali, where the Tathagata had announced His soon to arrive death or Mahaparinirvana. Vaishali, a place jeweled with stupas(One contain Buddha’s relics), monasteries and temples, is frequently visited by the Buddhists, Jains(for birthplace of Mahavira) and other tourists.

    * Rajgir : Siddhartha Gautama had once visited Rajgir(Rajgriha) during His search for an enduring truth and again returned back at this place as the Buddha, this time to spend some years over here. It is believed that two rock cut caves at Rajgir were the favourite retreats of the Tathagata and He preached two of His sermons here. The small city of Rajgir with its numerous attractions such as Vaibhav hill, Ajatshatru’s fort and Swarna Bhandar among many others, is a holy place for the Hindus and Jains as well.

Major Buddhist Monuments in Bihar

    * Maha Bodhi Temple : A world heritage centre declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO), the Maha Bodhi complex in Bodh Gaya homes an ancient temple of the Buddha, built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Pampered with a superb and magnificent architecture, the temple houses a 150 feet high tower, which further contains a gilded colossal image of the Buddha in the ‘bhumisparsha mudra’ or touching the ground pose.

    * Maha Bodhi Tree : The Maha Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya is the most revered place for all the Buddhists as it was under one of the predecessors of this ficus(peepal) tree where a young man, to fulfill His thirst of the truth, meditated and achieved the divine light of enlightenment. The 160 years old Maha Bodhi tree, fifth generation plant of the original one, stands as high as 80 feet, and a major centre of pilgrim for the Buddhists from all over the world.

    * Nalanda Monasic University : The Nalanda monastic university in Nalanda, though in ruins today, was once one of the most famous learning centres of the world. Established during 4th-5th century CE, the Nalanda university was destroyed by the Islamic invaders in the 12th-13th century CE, and is now under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India.

    * Vikramshila University : The remains of the Vikramshila university near Bhagalpur(50 kilometers) is a major Buddhist attraction of Bihar. Built during 8th century CE by Dharampala, the Vikramshila learning centre flourished as a centre for Tantric Buddhism or Tantrayana.

Other Major Attractions

  • Patna : The state capital of Bihar, Patna is situated on the banks of the holy river Ganges or the Ganga. Earlier known as Patliputra, Patna is not only a major gateway to all the Buddhist destinations in Bihar, but at the same time, the city in itself has always been a major historical, cultural and political centre of the state. A home to several monuments like GolGhar, Sadakat Ashram and Harmandirji, and several museums such as that of Kumhrar, Patna was also visited by the Buddha while crossing the river Ganga.
  • Bhagalpur : Famous as the ‘silk City’, Bhagalpur is one of the major cities of Bihar. The historic place of Bhagalpur was once a part of the 16 Mahajanpadas or the republics, but then was known as Anga. Situated on the banks of the holy river Ganga, Bhagalpur today is the district administrative centre as well as an agricultural market. The city is also famous for the remains of the ancient Buddhist monasteries along with its silk, fabric weaving and sugar milling.
  • Gaya : A home to Bodh Gaya(8 kilometers), the place of the Buddha’s enlightenment, Gaya in Bihar is sacred for the Hindus as well, who visit the famous ‘Vishnupad temple’, where the God Vishnu is bekieved to have preached the reality of death. The city is also famous for industries of cotton, jute, sugar and stones along with the trade of tobacco and betel leaves.
  • Madhubani : The heart of art and culture in Bihar, Madhubani is worldwide famous for its paintings, the finest folk art carried by the women of the region. Besides, Madhubani is also famous for the tantric practices in the temples of the Hindu goddess Kali and the ruins of the palaces of the earlier heads of the princely state of Darbhanga.

Climate
The months of December and January are the cold ones, while April, May and June are the hot ones. The temperature during winters go as low as 5 degree Celsius, while in summers, it is as high as 46-47 degree Celsius. The months of July, August and September witness a good rainfall. October, February and March are the ideal months to visit the place owing to the pleasant whether.

 How to Reach

By Air – The Indian state of Bihar is easily accessible by air as besides other small airports, there are two major ones – Lok Nayak Jayaprakash airport at Patna, and Gaya airport. Patna airport is basically an domestic airport, and is directly connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow and Ranchi, while the Gaya airport is a small International airport connected to Colombo(Sri Lanka) and Thailand(Bangkok).

By Rail – A vast rail network connects Bihar with other parts of the country(India). Almost all the major cities of the state such as Patna, Bhagalpur, Barauni, Muzzaffarpur, Gaya and Samastipur have a direct rail access to Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

By Road – Bihar has a vast network of National and state highways, and are connected to different parts of India as well as neighbouring country Nepal.

Places of Interest in Nalanda

Founded in the 5th century BC, Nalanda was one of the world’s great universities and an important Buddhist centre. When renowned chinese scholar and traveller Hieun Tsang visited Nalanda between 685BC and 762BC, 10,000 monks and students resided here. Nalanda was frequently visited by Lord mahavira and lord Buddha in the 6th century BC. 

Patna, 90 km away is the nearest airport. Nalanda can be reached by rail and road from other major towns of Bihar.

Nalanda university archaeological complex
The entire excavation area stretches to around 14 hectares. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes north to south. On either side of this walkway one can find monasteries and temples. A small chapel retains a half broken statue of the Buddha.

The Nalanda archaeological museum
This place houses the Nalanda university seal, sculptures and other remains found at the site. It also contains a number of small Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and some undamaged statues of the Buddha.

Nava Nalanda Mahavira
This is a relactively new institute, which is devoted to the study of pali literature and buddhism. A number of foreign students come here to study.

Hieun Tsang memorial hall
One of the newest buildings here, it was built as a peace pagoda by the chinese. Hieun tsang spent 5 years here as student and teacher.