In the annals of the political history of India, Rajgriha or Rajgir claims importance as the seed of the Magadhan Empire reduced to an unknown and small town. Now Rajgir witnessed both the political ambitions pf the might Magadhan emperors, Bimbisara and Ajatshatru and the spiritual endeavors of the great reformers like Mahabir and Buddha.
The city had two formidable hill fortresses, the pride and the defense of the Magadhan monarchs. Ensconced within the natural boundaries of the famous hills like Vaibhara, Bipula, Ranagiri, Sailagiri, Chhatragiri, Udayagiri and Sonagiri, it was ideally suited to the imperial capital.
Literally meaning the “Abode of the Kings”, it was a flourishing royal capital city till the 5th Century B.C., when Ajatshatru’s successor Udayin shifted his capital to Patliputra. Rajgir’s most hallowed associations are with Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira. And therefore, the glories of man’s creations my have become relics of the past, but the spirit of peace, companion and love preached by these great masters are still alive.
The main monuments which must be seen by all visitors are:
Ajatshatru’s Stupa- It is a ruined structure on a platform of stone-pillared cells about 10 meters in height. On the north of the town is the Karanda or Tank where Lord Buddha bathed.
Vanuvana on the bamboo grave was gifted to Lord Buddha by Bimbisara. This was Lord Buddha’s favorite place of retreat.
Adjoining the Vanuvana is the ‘New Japanese Temple’, built by the Buddha Sangha of Japan to mark the significance of the point.
A little distance away is the Saptaparni Cave where the first Buddhist Council was held after Lord Buddha’s death to codify his teachings.
At the foot of the hills is situated the winter health resort named ‘Satdhara’. Natural hot springs are fun to bathe in the Satdhara.
Next is the ‘Lakshmi Narayan Temple’, which is the biggest temple of Rajgir. It has the shrines of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu besides the sages as Kapil and Gautam.
Virayatan – This is a Jain Aashram with an exquisite museum.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa – This is the most remarkable monument of Rajgir. It stands stop the Ratnagiri hills. It is a spotless white marble structure with niches bearing images of Lord Buddha’s Sangha of Japan to propagate their philosophy. It is easily accessible by the ariel ropeway.
On way to the Shanti Stupa is the ‘Maniyar Nath’ believed to be the sacred abode of the legendary serpent, Mani Naga.
Sonbhadra – It is a set of two caves built by a Jain Muni containing obliterated paintings of symbols representing the first four Tritankaras.
Time may have wiped of all the regal vestiges, but the ruins still bear testimony to its illustrious past.