Rajgir is the beautiful land of mountains, Buddha temples and many historical spots. It is situated in Bihar. The word “Bihar” means travel. There are many Buddhist temples and ashramas. Rajgir was previously known as Rajgriha. Many folklore and history is associated with Rajgir’s Nalanda. Emperor Jarasandha’s life history, the “malla yuddha,” a war directed by Sri Krishna between Bhim and Jarasandha, Bindusar, Mahamati Ashoka’s ruins are worth seeing. The prince of the Shakya Kingdom transformed from Sidharta to Lord Buddha. This transformation happened in the Gandhakut mountains of Rajgir. Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankar made the first religious gathering in the mountains of Rajgir. Mukhdam Bada is another great personality whose activities in Rajgir are worth remembering. The Kushana architecture is seen in Nalanda where a very reputed university was set up. I will never throw away the shoe in which I travelled to the world most renowned ancient university, the Nalanda. While travelling the ruins, my feet was aching but one could imagine the pain took by the archeologists digging out the whole university campus. Our highly respected ex-President, A.P. J. Abdul Kalam directed the reconstruction of the Nalanda University and we should all be very thankful for this great personality who has made mark not only among the fields of science but also among the young generations by writing motivating books like “Ignited Minds,” “India 2020” etc.
For a long time, I was planning to go to Rajgir. I and my father were planning to go together. But the timings of our leave never met as I work in a medical transcription company where there is hardly any holiday on national holidays and the festivals enjoyed by the Bengalis. So I went to Rajgir alone. I started my journey on July 3, 2009 and reached there on July 4. I stayed for two nights of July 4 and 5, 2009. The name of the train was Janta Express. It had been booked my tour operator, Max Tours and Travels.
I did my booking of hotel at Max Tours and Travels (198 Vivekananda Road, Kolkata-700 006, Phone: (033) 2354-1436, 9830505421). This tour operator helped me get a hotel in Rajgir named “Rajlaxmi.” I stayed there for two nights. I stayed there on the nights of July 4 and 5. My tour operator told me that the check in time there is 12 but when I reached there, I found that it was 9 a.m. The charge of the room was Rs. 400 plus 10% tax, so it was Rs. 440. On the July 6, I stayed in another lodge, which was in the ground floor. It took Rs. 150. Its name is Hotel Sarada Group. The room at Rajlakshmi was painted in light green with color television, dressing table, double bed, attached bathroom with showers. There are windows on the Eastern and Western side of the room. From the windows of the eastern side, one could see the rising sun over the mountains. On the western side of the window, one could see a broad corridor. The floor of the room was tiled. There was another window overlooking the road. The road in front of the lodge was a little bit dirty as the local municipality was digging up the road to repair the telephone cables. For this reason, when I tried to contact Rajlakhsmi from Kolkata but failed to connect as the repair of telephone cables are going on and the Max Tours did not give me any mobile number of Bablu Koley, the proprietor of Hotel Sarada Group. The manager of this lodge was an old, potbellied man with spectacles, soft spoken but very efficient. Hotel Rajlakhsmi is opposite Ramkrishna Math. This hotel is located in Rajgir and Nalanda being the district and the state is Bihar. The pin code is 803116. The mobile number of the owner of the group of hotels that includes Rajlaxmi, Mahalaxmi (at Rajgir bus stand) is 9431487646. If I had got this number, I could have got the information that there are only State Bank of India ATM but no Axis bank ATM. But I had the Axis ATM card in my wallet and only Rs. 1000, so I had to transfer Rs. 700 from Kolkata with the help of my father to the account of Mr. Bablu Koley for the final payment. I stayed in Room No. 6 in this lodge. The other rooms were also filled up. There are provisions of three people staying in one room as I saw three pillows.
The Janta Express booked by my tour operator is absolutely a “bad choice.” Why? Because the train moves smoothly till Bakhtiarpur. Then the problem starts. You have to wait for two hours as the Janta Express will go away leaving only one bogie on the line. A local train called Danapur Express will come and take you to your destination called Rajgir. I did not wait for hours while going to Rajgir and took a bus from Bakhtiarpur. The bus took me there within two hours though there was a traffic jam. It took Rs. 35 as its fair. It was a small luxury bus. On my return journey, I waited at Bakhtiarpur as I do not know an alternative route and my luck was so bad, it was so bad that I had to wait 11 hours!!! i.e. the train reached Bakhtiarpur within 2-1/2 hours. The Danapur Local started from Rajgir at 4 p.m. sharp. It reached Bakhtiarpur at 6:30 p.m. The train finally left the Rajgir station in the morning of 7th July around 5:30 a.m. Every time I travel by train, the return journey is a disaster. The train comes late every time. I don’t know why this happens. My return journey from Delhi, Madhupur, Ghatsila, etc. all were extremely boring return journeys. On my return from Ghatsila, I faced a rain along with heavy storm on the platform and that was a horrible experience!
On July 3, I took Janta Express from Howrah Station. I left home at 7 p.m. I took a taxi and my father accompanied me to the station. I reached the old Howrah station. I went to the old platform at 7:30 after buying a platform ticket. Most of the counters closed, one was open. It seemed the railway authorities were so careless about the passengers. The guards were there and numerous food stalls can be seen in the station. Thousands of people are there, some sitting, some lying on the ground, some running to and fro. I found that the station is a place where people come and go like the blood circulation in the human body. There are big charts. The voice of the announcers are not like the Radio Jockeys. The voices reflect are poor speech training and the microphone is of low quality. It’s a wonder how the railways run its business in spite of thousands traveling to and fro without tickets. The reservation compartments are being regularly checked by the ticket collectors and the daily passengers are not caught but only some have the courtesy of buying a monthly ticket. I saw the Janta Express waiting on the platform. I checked the charts and took the train and went at the S1 compartment. My seat number was 34. The price of the ticket was 236. But as I boarded the train, the compartment became filled with hawkers and daily passengers like a local train! Oh, no, it was such an unpleasant experience! There were businessman, a big fat old man with flowing white beard who had reserved seat from Howrah and there were other businessmen who were carrying big packs and they put the box on the top sleeper. The reserved train has become a goods train without any money. Think of the loss of the Indian railways!!! After 9 p.m., the compartment became free and one could comfortably sit and have dinner. I took my dinner, roti and curry that my mother prepared for me. As time passed by, I took out a book “Ami Vivekananda Bolchi” written by Shankar, a reputed Bengali author. I was reading the book and I read till 11 p.m. Somebody in my compartment asked to switch off the light but another person pointed to me saying, “He is reading a book.” Then much later, the light was switched off only a dim blue light was there at regular intervals in the compartment. The outside was pitch dark. It was July. So the sky was shrouded in clouds. No rain. A few days ago it was raining. I did not bring an inflatable pillow with me as the travelers in a train usually carry. I used the book of Swami Vivekanda as a pillow as I believed that in that way good thoughts of the great personality will enter my mind and I felt really nice passing the nice on a hard pillow. The pillow was hard but the person, Swami Vivekananda and his lifetime notes in diaries have been collected by Shankar and as I was reading the book, I was having a great time. The train stopped at many halts and in big stations. Finally around 8 a.m. on the next day, the train stopped at Bakhtiarpur. I found the passengers leaving and later found the compartment completely empty. I felt what I should do and asked one person, he told me that the train will stay here for 2 hours and then Danapur local will take it to Rajgir. I felt impatient and anxious. I took a bus from Bakhtiarpur. It took Rs. 35. The bus was stopped at different stops and taking up passangers not only inside but also on the roof. I saw other buses and it was quite common in Bihar to carry people like goats ready for sacrifice. It often topples and on the way, I had the way for 45 minutes because of a road accident and one could see a long queue of buses and private cars waiting to get the green signal from the police who came for clearing the damaged vehicles with the help of a crane. At a terminus, I got down from this bus and I was shown another bus that goes to Rajgir and the conductor gave him the fair. So I was moving in this bus, and it is bigger than the previous one with a TV and the seats are comfortable. I reached Rajgir and took a tonga, a cart driven by a horse. The tonga moved towards the Hotel Rajlakshmi. I reached Rajlakshmi around 11:30 a.m. and signed the log book. The room number was 6.
The room at Hotel Rajlakhsmi was painted green with a double bed, fan, color television, windows on three sides and an attached bathroom. An attendant used to serve me water in a light purple jug whenever I needed. On reaching this lovely and beautiful room, from which one can see the mountains of Rajgir and see the road in front and the bazaar and the beautiful Ramkrishna Math in front, so overall the location of the hotel was very central and not far from the historical sites. There were Japanese and Burmese temples nearby and just by calling a tonga in front of the tonga, the tourist will go straight to the historical sites. The tongawallah (the horse cart driver) took Rs. 15 to reach this lodge. I was watching the color television and some channels have been blocked as Conditional Access System is at work here in Rajgir. I regularly watched the Bhojopuri channel called “Sangeet Bhojpuri.”
I took bath. I took lunch at 1 p.m. I slept for a while in the soft bed. I gave my Tata Indicom Cell phone some charge removing the TV plug for one hour. I got myself ready for the trip from 3 p.m. I wore a Punjabi and a trouser. I took my Kodak digital camera. On coming here, the manager gave me a conducted tour plan. They are as follows:
PLACES OF INTEREST
1. Kali Bari.
2. Maa Anandamoyee Ashram.
3. Digambar Jain Temple.
4. Naulakha Temple.
5. Ramkrishna Math.
6. Burmese Buddhist Temple.
7. Japanese Buddhist Temple.
8. Mukdun Kundu.
9. Benuban Park.
10. Saptadhara Hot Spring.
11. Benuban Bihar.
12. Jaladebi Temple.
13. Kailash Temple.
BY RICKSHAW OR TANGA:
2. Ratnagiri Parbat and Shanti Stup.
3. Maniyar Math.
4. Sarno Bhandar.
5. Bimbisar Bindisale.
6. Veerayatan Museum.
7. Benuban Japan Temple.
8. Rathyer Chaka Daag.
9. Jay Prakash Narayan Park.
10. Grihadut Parbat.
11. Deer Park.
CONDUCTED TOUR FOR TAXI OR BUS
1. Nalanda University and Museum.
2. Kundalpur Temple.
3. Huen Tsang Memorial Hall.
4. Pawapuri Jain Temple.
5. Shambu saran.
6. Gaya and Buddha Gaya.
7. Kokolat falls.
**THE SPOTS I VISITED HAVE BEEN UNDERLINED ABOVE.
From this travel guide card, I also come to know Mr. Bablu Koley owns three hotels here at Rajgir and they are as follows:
1. Maa Sarada ( near telephone exchange) (9431487646).
2. Rajlaxmi (25505).
3. Mahalaxmi (Bus Stand- 9334805608).
The Hotel Sarada Group can be booked from Kolkata at Bipin Bihari Ganguly Street and the address is 5 B. B. Ganguly Street, Kolkata 700 012. (Phone: 32441309 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m., 9433752723). The proprietor this Hotel Sarada Group could be contacted through his Rajgir mobile 09431487646, and his Kolkata Mobile number 9339899493. This hotel was located near post office Rajgir, Nalanda district, Bihar 803116.
Now lets give you an overview of the historical attractions of the place. They are as follows:
SAPTARSHI AND BRAHMAKUNDA: It is at the base of the Baibhav Hills. It is a hot spring. There waterfalls are named after seven saints. The temperature of water of the underground spring is 45 degree centigrade. The water of this spring can cure skin disease. People within and outside India come to bath in this wonderful spring. If one climbs the stairs of the mountain, he will get a Lord Shiva temple built by Jarasandha temple and a Jain temple.
SATPARNI CAVE: Here Lord Buddha stayed for six months along with nine disciples. Here the holy book called Tripitaka was composed.
FORT OF AJATASHATRU: The son of Bimbisar created this fort around 500 B.C. this fort is popularly known as Ajatashatru Garh.
JAIL OF BIMBISAR: Ajatashatru put his father into prison and kept him here in this jail, which is located underground. I could see a square shaped crater filled with water. The guide told me that from this hole, there are stairs leading to the jail. Here Bimbisar died. In the Archeological Survey of India descriptive plate, it has been written this way:
“This structure has been identified with a jail of fifth century B.C. where King Bimbisara was kept in confinement by his son Ajatashatru. It consists of 2 meter thick stone wall, each arm measuring about 60 meters with circular bastions at corners. During excavation an iron manacle was found from a cell, which also supports its identification with a jail.”
AMRAKANAN OF JIBAK: Jibak was the physician of the kings of Magadh. Jibak’s hospital was in this Amrakanan. The Archeological Survey of India called this site as “Jivaka Amaravana Vihara.” To describe in a few words, “Jibaka was a renowned physician in the royal court of Bimbisara and Ajatshatru during 6th-5th century B.C. It represented an extensive mango grove to Lord Buddha and constructed monastery for the community. These elliptical structures have been identified as Jivaka Amaravana Vihara.”
SARNA BHANDAR OR SONE BHANDAR: This golden treasure is very interesting and it is a cave where the valuable treasures are stored. It has not been disturbed as the use of a dynamite to explode will cause the mountain above to collapse. King Bimbisar protected his valuable items from Ajatashatru by keeping in this cave and sealing the gate. This is a secret chamber and its exit is near the Sataparni cave. In the wall, the guide pointed to me that there are 32 inscriptions of where the valuable items are kept. But it has not been possible to uncover the coded language. The coded language is very interesting and any visitor visiting that cave will be amazed. The British wanted to get the valuables by firing with a canon. But Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose asked them not to do so. Presently this looks like a cave.
MANIYAR MATH: This is completely mythological site. According to mythology, the saints used to perform puja here. There is also a different opinion that King Jarasandha used to keep the defeated kings here. Near the Maniyar Math, I found this plate written as follows:
“Protected Monument: This monument has been declared to be of national importance under the ancient monuments and archeological sites and remains act, 1958 (24 of 1958). Whoever destroys, removes, or injures, alters, defaces, imperils or misuses this monument shall be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or fine which may extend to 5000 rupees or with both.”
The Archeological Survey India describes Maniyar Math as follows:
“Located almost at the center of the old city of Rajgriha, these ancient sites can be identified with the “Manimala Chaitya” mentioned in the Pali texts or the shrine of Mani –Nag, mentioned to in Mahabharata. The main attraction is a well-like structure 1.20 meter high stucco images of a linga decorated with garland, four armed Vishnu, Nagi image Ganesha twisted with snakes around his body and six-armed dancing Shiva.
Unfortunately most of the images have now disappeared. From there art-style, the images belong to Gupta Period the fifth century A.D., the minor structures such as alter platforms and shrines etc. seem to be constructed for religious and ritual purposes related to serpent worship.”
BURMESE BUDDHIST BIHAR: Located at walking distance from my lodge, this is a beautiful temple built by the people of Burma. Its in Kund Road, Rajgir. The worship hours are 6 a.m. to 12 noon and 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
I took two photos of myself. One photo in front of the Nalanda ruins. This photo was taken by a security guard. He is a very old man with his hair in head totally white. He pointed out to me a 16 headed date palm tree near the Nalanda ruins. I was amazed. I saw such a type of palm tree in Mandarmoni. It’s a very rare species. Another photo is taken in front of the Japanese temple. It was taken by a boy who came here to visit the temple like me with his friend. I went to the park at Benuben just beside this Japanese Buddhist temple. It was maintained by the Paryabaran Ban Bibhag and Nalanda Ban Pramandal, Bihar Sharif. The entry fee is Rs. 3. The park is beautifully decorated with a wide variety of trees, a pond, a meditation hut, etc. Then the tonga-driver took me to a spot where the Mahavira’s life is displayed in miniature models. This museum is similar to our Nehru Children’s museum in Kolkata where Ramayana and Mahabharata are displayed. But the miniature art work is far superior quality than in Kolkata. This museum is called “Sri Brahmi Kala Mandiram Veerayantan. I went to this spot on Saturday i.e. 4th July. The entry fee is Rs. 12 and I entered here at 17:25.
NALANDA UNIVERSITY: Now I am going to tell you about Nalanda but this is not my description but I followed strictly the description given by the archeological survey of India.
NALANDA: “History of Nalanda goes back to the date of Mahavira and Buddha in 6th century B.C. It was the place of birth and nirvana of Sariputra, one of the famous disciples of Buddha. The place rose into prominence in the 5h century A.D. as a great monastic cum educational institution for oriental art and learning in the whole Buddhist world attracting students from distant countries including China. The galaxy of luminaries associated with it includes Nagarjuna, Aryaveda, Vasubandhu, Dharmapala, Suvishnu, Asanga, Silabhadra, Dharmakirti, Shantarakshita, and celebrated Chinese travelers Hiuen Tsiang, and I-Tsing have extensively described the monasteries and shrines of Nalanda and the life of monks there. Various subjects like theology, grammar, logic, astronomy, metaphysics, medicine and philosophy were taught here. The institution was maintained by the revenue collected from the villages bestowed specifically for the purpose by the contemporary rulers as evident from inscriptions.
Nalanda Mahavihar, regarded as one of the greatest universities of ancient world was founded by Kumaragupta I (413 – 455 A.D.) of the great Gupta Dynasty, King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (606-647 A.D.) and the Pala Kings of East India (8th to 12th century A.D.) continued to extend patronage to the centre. The decline of this great institution started in Late Pala Period but the final blow came in around 1200 A.D. by the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khilji.
Excavations conducted by the archeological survey of India during 1915-1937 and 1974-1982 have exposed the extensive remains of six brick temples and eleven monasteries arranged on a systematic layout and spread over an area more than a square kilometer. Basically a 30 meter wide passage runs North-South with the row of temples on the west and that of the monasteries on the east of it. The dimensions and dispositions of the rooms within monasteries is almost identical. The most imposing structure is temple No. 3 at the southern extremity, which was constructed in seven phases. It is surrounded by a number of votive stupas and other minor shrines.
Other than structures, the excavations have unearthed many sculptures and images in stone, bronze and stucco. Significant among the Buddhist sculptures are Buddha in different postures, Avalokitesvara, Majusri, Tara, Prajnaparmita, Marichi, Jambhala etc. A few are of Brahmanical deities like Vishnu, Siva-Parvati, Mahishasur-Mardini, Ganesha, Surya etc. Other noteworthy discoveries of excavation include the murals, copper plates, stone and brick inscriptions, sealings, plaques, coins, terracotas, potteries, etc. The antiquities have been exhibited for the visitors in the nearby museum.”
Monastery No. 01: This monastery is considered to be one of the most important among the group of monasteries from chronological revealing the nine levels of occupation as indicated by the superimposed structures, drains and floors. The lower monastery was erected during the rein of Devapala (circa 810-50 A.D.) by a king of Sumatra as hostels for the monks. It had a central rectangular courtyard, pillared verandah all round in front of the cells, a shrine at the middle of the eastern arm, a well and a teacher’s platform and the entrance towards west. It was at least double storied as evident by the staircase at the southwest corner. The upper monasteries have 34 cells containing bed platform for monks and shelves for keeping books and valuables in the corners of few cells, pillared verandahs in front and entrance towards west approachable through a massive flight of steps. …..The evidence of destruction of Nalanda by fire can be noticed in a few cells and stucco images also placed in the niches of the portico.
Temple Site No. 3: During the year 1861 Alexander Cunningham carried out a small scale excavation over here and identified the site as Nalanda. Later on a series of excavations followed by conservation by the Archeological Survey of India took place during 1915-1937 at this site.
Monastery No. 5: This monastery does not conform to the nature and general scheme of other monasteries. Its northern and southern arms are having only three cells whereas the western arm has two rows of eight cells. Some of the cells in the front row are connected with the verandah whereas few cells are interlinked with corbelled doors. A large staircase descending from the south-east corner of monastery no. 4 connects this monastery. On the basis of antiquarian finds it appears that the monastery was constructed during the Gupta Period.
On my way towards the Rajlakshmi lodge at Rajgir, I took lunch, a non-vegetarian meal for Rs. 20. I opted for this lunch outside as the lunch at the lodge costs Rs. 50. After lunch, I reached the nearby shop for mobile recharge and bought a cash card for my Tata Indicom mobile. I went to my lodge and took rest. There were frequent power cuts in my lodge but due to the presence of generator, the discomfort amidst the sweltering heat in July and at times when no rainfall in Rajgir, one could relax on the lodge watching TV at the dining room and also individual rooms provided with the television sets. On the manager’s table, I saw Hindi newspapers. In the evening, I spent time watching TV and reading books. A book is a great companion. A book can give you extensive on a particular area and in times of crisis, reading a book can take you to a completely different world of the author. Reading books is a better option than watching television as reading helps you concentrate and television watching is not a great thing if you do it for long hours. I slept around 9 p.m. switching the lights off and I could see the sky all around as on the left side of my building, there are slums and far away there are mountains with millions of stars above creating a magical atmosphere at night. I could see these through my windows on the two sides. There are windows at the inner verandah but the light was not on and there was darkness there. The insects who love to fly around lights were pestering me and so I ordered a mosquito net for a sound sleep.
I woke up in the morning of July 5 and ordered a tea in the lodge, which costs Rs. 5. I did yoga and was watching TV. The habit of watching TV returned as here there is no internet café. So I had to read books and watch TV and sometimes move out of the lodge with the camera but the two days passed out swiftly and my dear parents, father and mother kept in touch with me over the mobile phone. There were plenty of towers all around, so there was no problem of network. I had lunch which comprised of bread and butter and an omlet. I ordered the lunch. I packed my bags as the check out time in this hotel is 9 a.m. I asked the manager the day before about a cheap room to stay in Rajgir till 3 p.m. He arranged a room at Maa Sarada Lodge and I stayed there paying Rs. 150. In this room, there is no television. There is an old fan with the old style of wooden support (kori borga) ceiling. There are small holes in the thick walls to keep lantern during times of power failure called “ghulghuli” in Bengali. I slept the afternoon there after the lunch, which comprised of a rice, fish, dal, potato fries and a desert at the end. I woke up around 3 p.m. and took a tonga and went straight to the Rajgir station. I saw the Danapur Local waiting. There are two compartments of the train that will join the Janta Express at Bakhtiarpur after two hours of waiting. The Danapur local will leave these two bogies of Janta Express to the station like a child abandoned by the parents. The train bogies remained in the station like the orphan child without any parental care. The passengers moved around the station to take some fresh air sometimes. But I did not leave the compartment. The train did not come after two hours to join the two bogies but came 11 hours later. Just think of my frustration!! Such long hours of waiting and parents calling me in mobile. Later I heard that in Bakhtiarpur, my parents were calling me over their mobile and could not get response as I believe that this region has very few towers. They heard of the train late from the enquiry office of the Eastern Railways. They were very anxious as you all know Bihar is not a good place and anything could have happened in an isolated compartment like that where anyone can step in freely from beggars, hawkers or thieves. I was just reading the book “Ami Vivekananda Bolchi” by Shankar and thinking of what to do. During the night, the lights went off as the train could no longer supply electricity for the poor passengers kept praying to God for the train to leave the station. The railway ministers come and go but the plight of the railway passengers remain the same. The ticket checking was there on my journeys both going and coming from Rajgir and on my return journey, they caught a handsome man with a very beautiful wife. The ticket checker saw some irregularities in a student and asked for a fine and the boy did not want to go with him to the next station and there was a dispute. One memorable incident in my return journey are a group of old women who sat in my front and they were singing religious songs of Lord Mahadeva and that was really a wonderful experience. They were singing one after another and I saw a large number of Lord Mahadev devotees boarded the train wearing saffron clothes and came down at Gusudih. Another remarkable experience is the scenary of long stretch of mountains of Bihar. There were some hills, some mountains covered by thin layer of grasses, some trees could also be seen scantily. The mountains are so close you would be interested to ride on top of them. The enthusiasts who climb the mountains make those who do not wonder why they are climbing the hard massive stone structures, but it is the experience and the thrill involved, which provides impetus in rock climbing, the thrill of discovering and feeling the earth from the top just like a vulture who flies very high above our head and can see the spot of his food. The clouds touching the mountain peaks was looking awesome. If I had a pencil and paper, I would love to draw that beautiful scenery and take a photo and paste in one of my networking websites like MySpace and let the world see how beautiful are the hills of Rajgir!
The train bogey started leaving Bakhtiarpur. This is the station where the two bogies stood for around 11 hours and left the station. In the morning around 5:30 a.m., I took some tea from the vendor passing by. The quality of tea in Bihar is wonderful. You get the good quality of milk and so the taste is unique here. The drinking water is good quality. Many vendors are selling water bottles in distilled and purified form. Many passenger are buying the bottles for Rs. 10. I reached the Howrah station around 5:30 and took a hired taxi from the pre-paid taxi both where it took Rs. 110 to reach Paikpara. When the train entered West Bengal, I was feeling quite restless to reach home as nearly 25 hours in train is really strenuous. The taxi driver named Pappu advised me:”You could have taken a jetty launch (?) from the banks of the Ganges and take a taxi from the other side of the bank, it could have cost you much less!” I thanked him for the suggestion but I told him, “I am too tired to take my baggage and board a ferry launch and then go and catch a taxi.” This route is costly but its comfortable for me. In a situation when there is a train journey of long hours, its better to catch a taxi and go home straight rather than an economic way of going home.
My journey to Rajgir is memorable for a multiple reasons. Firstly, the beautiful hills and mountains of Rajgir are really a great thing to see. Secondly, the historical spots stirred my love of history that was buried since school life. I bought pamphlets of Nalanda. I bought statues of Buddha. I collect old coins and it is my hobby. I collect old bus tickets etc. Old is gold but it becomes expensive when you want to sell, your heart yell and you cannot leave it and keep it close to your heart. Here lies the unity of all history loving people around the world and especially for me as I studied anthropology, a subject that studies cultural and biology evolution of mankind from all angles. Third, Rajgir has good roads maintained by the Government of Bihar and its really worth travelling in the clean roads towards the historical sites. Fourth, the horse cart travelling in Rajgir is unique and my first experience in life. Fifth, watching closely the people of Bihar is an opportunity you can miss in Kolkata. There are many nonBengalis in Kolkata but what is lacking is that they have merged with the Bengali culture and so they can be seeing enjoying the Durga Puja but in their native place, you see their cultural activities distinctly. Sixth, on the day of my return journey, I stayed from9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Maa Sarada lodge where the reputed Bengali actor named Chhabi Biswas stayed during his shooting of the Bengali film “Pathey Holo Deri” and that building is 75 years old and the building named Hotel Rajlaxmi where I stayed was three years old. Rajgir’s hills and mountain and the historical sites will attract people from all parts of the India and world. The effort of the Government of Bihar in maintaining good communication of the sites is worth mentioning. A trip to Rajgir will enlighten your soul as it’s the land of Lord Buddha. Many architectures of Burma and Japan can be seen in this place who had built beautiful temples for the growth of Buddhism. Rajgir is both a religious as well as a thing of beauty that will spurt a feeling of wellbeing among the minds of hundreds of visitors flocking to this wonderful spot in the winter when snow covers the peak of the mountains creating a heavenly atmosphere.