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Bihar of all India’s states, Bihar is the one most intimately linked to the Buddha’s life, resulting in a trail of pilgrimages which have come to be known as the Buddhist circuit.

PATNA – The Buddhist trail begins at the capital city, Patna, where a noteworthy museum contains a collection of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures.

NALANDA – 90km south of Patna is Nalanda which translates as ‘the place that confers the lotus’ (of spiritual knowledge). A monastic university flourished here from the 5th to the 11th century. It is said to have contained nine million books, with 2,000 teachers to impart knowledge to 10,000 students who came from all over the Buddhist world. Lord Buddha himself taught here and Hieun Tsang, the 7th-century Chinese traveler was a student. Ongoing excavations have uncovered temples monasteries and lecture halls.

RAJGIR - ‘the royal palace’, 12 km south, was the venue for the first Buddhist Council. The Buddha spent 5 years at Rajgir after having attained enlightenment, and many of the remains at Rajgir commemorate various incidents, the hill of Gridhrakuta being perhaps the most important, as this is where the Buddha delivered most of his sermons. Rajgir is also an important place for Jains, as Mahavira spent some time in Rajgir and hills are topped with shrines.

BODHGAYA - Is probably the most interesting of all the holy sites associated with the life of Buddha, being much more of a working Buddhist centre than an archaeological site. It is also the most important Buddhist pilgrimage destination in the world. Bodhgaya is the spot where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment, with the Mahabodhi Temple marking the precise location.

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