Rajgir, 90km southwest of Patna, was the capital of the Magadha Empire until it was moved to Patna in the 5th century BC. Rajgir is important because the Buddha stayed here, and it is also popular because of the Hot Springs located here.
Buddha spent twelve years at this place. He used to preach at Griddhakuta Hill (Hill of Vultures), where he delivered many important sermons during the three months of the rainy season. Buddha converted King Bimbisara of Magadha on this hill. There are rock-cut steps leading up to two natural caves where the Buddha is said to have preached.
About 3km away, the First Buddhist Council was held at Saptaparni Cave on Vaibhara Hill, about six months after Buddha’s death. At that time, about five hundred monks met and put down in writing the Buddha’s teachings. On the way to Saptaparni Cave, you pass the Pippala Watch Tower, which is 7m high.
There is the interesting Vishwa Shanti Stupa Temple, on top of Ratnagiri Hill, which was constructed by the Japanese. It has four golden statues of Buddha that represent his birth, enlightenment, teachings, and death. Open daily 9 am to 5 pm. It is reached by a chairlift (Rs 10).
At Venuvana, the Bamboo Grove, Buddha stayed for awhile. He bathed in Karanda Tank, which is now a small zoo. Near Venuvana are some Hindu and Jain temples. Venuvana is the site of a monastery built by King Bimbisara for the Buddha.
Rajgir is also sacred to the Jains because Mahavir studied and meditated here. The twentieth tirthankara was also born here. There are Jain temples on many of the hilltops in the area.
Rajgir was once the capital of the kingdom of Magadha. It is said that at Jarasandha-ka-Akhada, Bhima fought with Jarasandha for twenty-eight days before he killed him by tearing his legs apart.
The 5th century Ajatasatru Fort and the 40km wall that used to encircle the ancient city here are now in ruins.
Next to the hot springs is the pink Lakshmi-Narayana Temple.