Vaishali - the Land of Buddha and Mahavira
Fast Facts About Vaishali
Location: Vaishali District of Bihar, about 70 kms. from Patna
Altitude: 52 meters above sea level.
Popular Attractions: Ashokan Pillar, Bawan Pokhar Temple, Buddha Stupa I, Buddha Stupa II, Abhishek Pusharan (Coronation Tank), Kundalpur, Raja Vishal Ka Garh and Shanti Stupa.
Clothing for Vaishali: Light cotton in summers and heavy woolens in winter (especially during December and January).
Best Time to Visit: October to March is the best period to visit the town of Vaishali. The summers from April to June remain hot and humid, while the monsoon from July to September is equally unpleasant due to heavy rainfalls. Hence, it is good to visit Vaishali during the suggested time.
Vaishali is a small village surrounded by banana and mango groves as well as rice fields. Excavations in the recent times in the area of Vaishali have brought out an impressive historical past. The epic Ramayana tells the story of the heroic King Vishal who ruled here. Historians maintain that one of the world's first democratic republics with an elected assembly of representatives flourished here in the 6th century B.C. in the time of the Vajjis and the Lichchavis. While Pataliputra, capital of the Mauryas and the Guptas, held political sway over the Gangetic plain, Vaishali was the center for trade and industry.
Lord Buddha visited Vaishali frequently and at Kolhua, close by, preached his last sermon. To commemorate the event, Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. erected one of his famous lion pillars here. On the outskirts of Vaishali stood the grand double storied Buddhist monastery. The Lichchhavis came a long way to bid him farewell on his way to Kushinagara and finally, they were stopped by a river created by Buddha. He once again paused to have a last of his much loved city. As a piety for Vaishali, he had already given his alms bowl which remained here for long time.
Tourist Attractions in and around Vaishali
Ashokan Pillar: Emperor Ashoka built The Lion Pillar at Kolhua with a highly polished single piece of red sandstone, surmounted by a bell shaped capital, 18.3 m high. A life-size figure of a lion is placed on top of the pillar. There is a small tank here known as Ramkund. This pillar beside a brick stupa at Kolhua commemorates Buddha's last sermon.
Bawan Pokhar Temple: An old temple built in the Pala period stands on the northern bank of Bawan Pokhar and enshrines beautiful images of several Hindu gods.
Vaishali Museum: The well preserved museum houses some of the archaeological remains discovered here.
Buddha Stupa-I: The exterior of this stupa which is now in a dilapidated condition has a plain surface. One eighth of the sacred ashes of the lord Buddha were enshrined here in a stone casket.
Buddha Stupa-II: Excavation at this site in 1958 led to the discovery of another casket containing the ashes of the Lord Buddha.
Abhishek Pushkaran (Coronation tank): It contains water that was believed to be sacred in the old days. All of Vaishali's elected representatives were anointed here before their swearing in. The Lichchavi stupa was located near here.
Kundalpur: It is believed that the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira was born over 2550 years ago. Mahavir is said to have spent the first 22 years of his life here.
Raja Vishal Ka Garh: A huge mound with a circumference about one kilometer and walls nearly two metre high with a 43m wide moat around them, is said to be the ancient parliament house. Over seven thousand representatives of the federal assembly gathered here to legislate and discuss the problems of the day.
Shanti Stupa: On the south bank of the coronation tank, built by Buddha Vihar Society is the Shanti Stupa.
Vaishali Mahotsava: The annual festival is organized on the full moon day of the month of "Vaisakh" (mid-April) to celebrate the birth anniversary of the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira.
Excursions from Vaishali
Patna (60 km): The capital city of Bihar, Patna is the biggest city of the state and offers a wonderful mix of sightseeing and leisure to tourists. Once known as Patliputra, Patna has witnessed the rise and fall of India’s erstwhile kingdoms and today flourishes with its modern buildings and tourist spots.
Sonepur (35 kms): Situated on the confluence of river Ganga and Gandak, Sonepur hosts perhaps Asia's Biggest animal fair, from Kartik full moon day (October /November). The annual fair lasts for almost a fortnight and visited by millions of visitors from India and abroad. Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation offers Swiss Cottages with attached baths etc. in the temporarily erected Tourists Village during the period of Sonepur Mela.
Muzaffarpur (35 kms): Popularly known as the "Lychee Kingdom", Muzaffarpur is one of the major towns of North Bihar. It is also one of the oldest and largest trade centers in the entire state. Today Muzaffarpur is famous for its exotic fruit "LYCHEE", which has become an exotic drink nowadays.
Shopping at Vaishali
A trip to Vaishali is incomplete till you do shopping in the local markets of the town. You can buy souvenirs for your family members, friend and near and dears ones from the markets of Vaishali. Must buys at Vaishali include local handicrafts, stone sculptures and Madhubani paintings. Several villages around Vaishali make delightful home- made toys. Sikki Work, the humble blade of grass is hand-woven into delightful baskets and mats. Lac bangles, these handmade lac bangles come from nearby city Muzaffarpur.
Patna is also a shopping halt for trippers to Vaishali. Maurya Lok Complex, located near Dak Bungalow Crossing is a good place to buy a variety of items. Bailey Road, Hailey Road, Patna Market, Hathua Market, etc. are other shopping joints in Patna.
How to Reach Vaishali
The location of Vaishali close to the capital city of Patna, hence it is easily accessible by Air, Rail and Road.
By Air: Jai Prakash Narain International Airport commonly called Patna Airport is the nearest airhead from Vaishali. The airport is served by domestic flights from Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and other cities of India. After reaching to Patna Airport, you can hire a cab to reach the historic town of Vaishali.
By Rail: The nearest railheads from Vaishali are Hajipur (35 kms) and Muzaffarpur (40 kms). Express and mail trains connect Hajipur and Muzaffarpur with different parts of the country. Once you reach to these stations, take a bus or hire a taxi for the town of Vaishali.
By Road: The state highway and National Highway connect Vaishali with the capital city Patna (65 Kms), Muzaffarpur (40 Kms) and Hajipur (35 Kms)
Local Transport: You can take cycle-rickshaw and motorable vehicles to explore the town of Vaishali and its nearby attractions.
Accommodation at Vaishali
Adequate accommodation options are available in the town of Vaishali. You can choose from the tourist bungalows and budget hotels to stay at Vaishali. All the accommodations at Vaishali are provided at a reasonable price, some of the noted are as follows:
Tourist Bungalow: Ambapali Vihar, Vaishali-844128. Ph.0622-285425.
Rooms available: Non-A/C Room (Dbl.),Non-A/C Room (Sngl.) and Dormitory Beds.
Facilities: Restaurant, Coach/Car Parking
Youth Hostel: Room available: Non-A/C Room (Dbl.), Dormitory Beds.
Facilities: Restaurant, Coach/Car Parking.