2006 Wikipedia CD Selection

Image:Example.of.complex.text.rendering.(small-white).png This page contains Indic text. Without rendering support, you may see irregular vowel positioning and a lack of conjuncts. More...

Map of India with Bihar highlighted.
25.35° N 85.12° E
Largest city Patna
Population (2001)
82,878,796 ( 3rd)
• 880/km²
94,164 km² ( 12th)
• 37
Time zone IST ( UTC +5:30)
Chief Minister
Legislature (seats)
Gopalkrishna Gandhi ( list)
Nitish Kumar ( list)
Bicameral (243 + 96)
Official language(s) Hindi, Angika, Bhojpuri, Magahi, Maithili
Abbreviation (ISO) IN-BR
Seal of Bihar

Bihar (बिहार in Devanagari) is a state of the Indian union situated in the eastern part of the country. Its capital is Patna. Etymologically, the name Bihar derives from the Sanskrit Vihara which means abode. The Buddhist Vihara, which were the abode of the Buddhist monks, dotted the area in the ancient and medieval periods.

To Bihar's north is the Kingdom of Nepal. On its other three sides Bihar is surrounded by the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh to the west, Jharkhand to the south and West Bengal to the east. Bihar lies in the very fertile Gangetic plains. Culturally, it is a part of the Hindi heartland of India.



Bihar has a very rich history. It was called Magadha in ancient times. Its capital Patna, then known as Pataliputra, was the center of the Mauryan empire, which dominated the Indian subcontinent between 325 BC- 185 BC. Emperor Ashoka was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next one thousand years. Nalanda and Vikramshila Universities were the world class learning centres.

Religions Originated

A stone image of the Buddha.
A stone image of the Buddha.

Bihar is also the birthplace of many religions, including Buddhism and Jainism. Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was born in Vaishali. The word "Bihar" has its origin in the Sanskrit word Vihara meaning Buddhist Monasteries. At one time these "viharas" were strewn all over the landscape of Bihar, around villages and cities.


With the advent of foreign aggression and the eventual foreign subjugation of India, the position of Bihar also was adversely affected. Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, a General of Muhammad Ghori captured Bihar in 12th century. Bihar saw a brief period of glory for six years during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who was from Sasaram and built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road, which starts from Calcutta and ends at Peshawar in Pakistan. During 1557- 1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire and made Bihar a part of Bengal. With the decline of Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of the Nawabs of Bengal.


After the Battle of Buxar ( 1765), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer and collect revenue, or tax administration / collection) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point onwards, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj until 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa. Again, in 2000, 18 administrative districts of Bihar were separated to form the state of Jharkhand.

Babu Kunwar Singh of Sasaram and his army, as well as countless other persons from Bihar, contributed to the India's First War of Independence ( 1857), also called the Sepoy Mutiny by some historians.

After his return from South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi started the freedom movement in India by his satyagraha in the Champaran district of Bihar -- against the British, who were forcing the local farmers to plant indigo which was very harmful to the local soil. This movement by Mahatma Gandhi received the spontaneous support of a cross section of people, including Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who ultimately became the first President of India.


  • 560-480 BCE: Anga, Buddha
  • 500 BCE:Foundation of world's first republic in Vaishali.
  • Before 325 BCE: Anga, Nanda clan in Magadha, Licchavis in Vaishali
  • 325-185 BCE: Maurya Dynasty
  • 250 BCE: 3rd Buddhist Council
  • 185 BCE-80 CE: Sunga Dynasty
  • 80 - 240: Regional kings
  • 240 - 600: Gupta Dynasty
  • 600 - 650: Harsha Vardhana
  • 750 - 1200: Pala Dynasty
  • 1200: Muhammad of Ghori's army, destroys the universities at Nalanda and Vikramshila
  • 1200- 1250: Decline of Buddhism
  • 1250- 1526: Ruled by Delhi Sultanate (Muslim Turks - Tughluqs, Sayyids, Lodis)
  • 1526- 1540: Babur defeats last Delhi sultan, establishes Mughal Empire
  • 1540- 1555: Suri dynasty captures empire from Mughals (including Shershah Suri who built the Grand Trunk Road)
  • 1526- 1757: Mughal dynasty resumes
  • 1757- 1857: British East India Company rule
  • 1857: Revolt of 1857
  • 1857- 1947: British Raj rule
  • 1912: Province of Bihar & Orissa separated from Bengal
  • 1935: Bihar and Orissa become separate provinces
  • 1947: Indian Independence; Bihar becomes a state
  • 2000: Bihar divided into two states - north part remains "Bihar", southern becomes Jharkhand

Geography & climate

Geography Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile flat land. It has several rivers: Ganga, Son, Bagmati, Kosi, Budhi Gandak, and Falgu to name a few. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. The Himalayan mountains are to the north, in Nepal. To the south is the Chota Nagpur plateau, which was part of Bihar until 2000 but now is part of a separate state called Jharkhand.

Climate Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (40 to 45 degrees Celsius). April, May and the first half of June are the hot months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October, November, February, and March are very pleasant months for climate.


There was a division of Bihar in 2000, when the industrially advanced and mineral-rich part of the state was carved out as the separate state of Jharkhand. Since then, the main economic activity of Bihar has been agriculture.

Bihar is among the less developed states of India and has a low per capita income. The blame for this stems from many factors: a historical neglect from the center of Indian power (be it Calcutta during the British Empire or Delhi in the independent India), lack of vision of the political classes, absence of a sub-national identity which allowed the Central Government to get away with the neglect even in the post-independence era, and grossly inadequate investment in agriculture, infrastructure and education. Many people in Bihar and in the rest of India also believe that gross mis-rule, caste-based politics, and rampant corruption by politicians have been the cause of the poverty of the state and its people.

The economy is mainly based on agricultural and trading activities. The vast swath of extremely fertile land makes it ideal for agriculture. Despite a number of rivers and good fertile soil, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been grossly inadequate. Agriculture is mainly dependent upon the vagaries of the nature.

Recently the dairy industry has picked up very well in Bihar. There also have been some attempts to industrialize the state: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, a power plant at Muzaffarpur and some agriculture-based industries such as sugar and vegetable oil. However no sustained effort has been made in this direction, and there is little success in its industrialization.

Government & politics

Nominally Bihar is headed by a Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. The real executive power rests with the Chief Minister and the cabinet. The political party or the coalition of political parties having a majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the Government.

The head of the bureaucracy of the State is called the Chief Secretary. Under him is a hierarchy of officials drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, and different wings of the State Civil Services.

The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice. Bihar has a High Court which has been functioning since 1916.

All the branches of the government are located in the state capital, Patna.

See List of political parties in the state


The state is divided into 9 divisions and 37 districts, for administrative purposes.

See also
  • Divisions of Bihar
  • Districts of Bihar

Transport & travel

Bihar has three airports - Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna, Bhagalpur Airport and Gaya. Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. It is categorised as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights. Gaya airport is a small international airport connected to Colombo and Bangkok.

Bihar is well-connected by railway lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected among themselves, and they also are directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna, Bhagalpur and Gaya are the best-connected railway stations.

The state has a vast network of National and State highways. However the roads currently are not in good condition.

For Buddhist pilgrims, the best option for travel to Bihar is to reach Patna or Gaya, either by air or train, and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali. Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh also is not very far.

Places to See

  • Buddhist sites - Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Bhagalpur , Vikramshila , Sultanganj.
  • Jain sites - Vaishali and Pawapuri, Bhagalpur.
  • Sikh sites - Har Mandir Sahib, Patna City, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh.
  • Hindu sites - Sultanganj(Bhagalpur), Vishnu Pad temple at Gaya, Baidyanath Dham, Tara Mandir at Mahisi, Patan Devi at Patna, Sun Temple at Deoghar, near Aurangabad, Varah Temple at Harihar Kshetra, Shiv temple at singhesarsthan(Madhepura).
  • Muslim sites - Bihar-E-Sharif, [Sultanganj], Bhagalpur.
  • Historic sites - The landscape is dotted with historic sites. Important ones are Patna, Bhagalpur Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Pawapuri, Champaran, and Sasaram.
  • Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyaan, patna.



  • Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is a major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated a week after Deepawali. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath, and now this festival is known even in a metropolis like Calcutta, or New Delhi or Mumbai. Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervour in Bihar.
  • Among other festivals the Shravani Mela of Sultanganj is of great importance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in July-August. Bihula-Bishari Puja of Anga region also is a great festival of Bihar.

Sonepur cattle fair held approx 15 days after diwali is the largest cattle fair in Asia

  • Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of India are celebrated in Bihar, such as Makar Sankranti, Sarasawati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (often pronounced Eid-uz-Zoha in South Asia), Muharram, Ram Nawami, Rath yatra, Rakhi, Mahashivaratri, Durga Puja, Divali, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, and several other local festivals as well.

Folksongs & music

Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of any musical instruments.

Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs, filled with fun rhythms.

During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened as a rule British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured labourers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area, and dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patna.

Dances of Bihar

Dance forms of Bihar are another expression of rich traditions and ethnic identity. There are several folk dance forms that can keep one enthralled, such as dhobi nach, jhumarnach, manjhi, gondnach, jitiyanach, more morni, dom-domin, bhuiababa, rah baba, kathghorwa nach, jat jatin, launda nach, bamar nach, jharni, jhijhia, natua nach, bidapad nach, sohrai nach, and gond nach.

Language & Literature

Bihari, Hindi and Urdu are the major languages spoken in Bihar. Major regional languages of Bihar include Angika, Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magadhi (Magahi). These languages are collectively referred as the Bihari language.

Angika is the only one of the Bihari languages which can be used in the Google Search Engine, Google-Angika has been available since 2004. The oldest poetry of the Hindi language (e.g., poetries written by Saraha, also known by the name Sarahapa, were written in the Angika language during the 8th century.

Bihar has produced a number of writers of Hindi, including Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksha Benipuri. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors.

Devaki Nandan Khatri, who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century on account of his novels such as Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.

Folk Theatre

Theatre is another form in which the Bihari culture expresses itself. Some forms of theater with rich traditions are Reshma-Chuharmal, Bihula-Bisahari, Bahura-Gorin, Raja Salhesh, Sama Chakeva, and Dom Kach. All of these theatre forms originate in the Anga or Ang area of Bihar.


Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There also is a small Maithili film industry.


Main Article Cuisine of Bihar

The cuisine of Bihar is predominantly vegetarian. However unlike Gujarat or some communities of the South, non-vegetarian food has been acceptable in the society of Bihar, as well, with even some sects of Brahmins such as the Mithila accepting fish as a food item. Traditional Bihar society did not eat eggs and chicken, although other types of birds and fowls were acceptable.

The staple food is “bhat, dal, roti, tarkari and achar”, prepared basically from rice, lentils, wheat flour, vegetables, and pickle. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. "Kichdi", a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes lunch for Biharis on Saturdays.

Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice also are special preparations of Anga.

Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ka Ladoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ka Lai, Laktho, Parwal ki Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, [[Thekua], Murabba and Tilkut. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna.

Several other traditional salted snacks and savouries popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu.

There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cooking, as well, although some of the names of the dishes may be the same as those found in other parts of north India. Roll is a typical Bihar non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name "Roll Bihari", in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City.


Manjusha Kala or Angika Art of Anga Region, Madhubani Art of Mithila Region, Patna Kalam of Magadha Region.


Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila. Modern Bihar has an acutely-inadequate educational infrastructure, creating a problem compounded by a growing population. This has prompted many students to seek educational opportunities in other states, such as New Delhi and Karnataka, especially for college education.

Bihar has the highest illiteracy rate in India, with women's literacy being only 33.57 %. The standard of Bihari education today is widely considered to be poor.


Bihar has a system of district schools (called Zila schools), located at the headquarters of older districts of Bihar. During the early 1980s the state government took over management of most privately-run schools, and accorded them government recognition. As in other states, the central government runs a number of Kendriya Vidyalayas (Central Schools) and Jawahar Navodaya Schools for rural students. Private schools, including school-chains and Missionary Schools, also exist. Most of the government-run schools in Bihar are affiliated with the Bihar School Examination Board, whereas most of the private schools are affiliated with the ICSE and CBSE boards.

Universities & colleges

Bihar has twelve universities recognised by the state:

  1. Patna University, Patna.
  2. Magadh University, Bodh Gaya.
  3. Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur.
  4. Tilka Manjhi, Bhagalpur University, Bhagalpur.
  5. Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga.
  6. Kameshwar Singh Darbhanga Sanskrit University, Darbhanga.
  7. Jaiprakash University, Chapra.
  8. Bhupendra Narayan Mandal University, Madhepura.
  9. Vir Kunwar Singh University, Arrah.
  10. Nalanda Open University, Patna.
  11. Mazrul Haque Arabi-Farsi University, Patna.
  12. Rajendra Agriculture University, Pusa.

The University of Patna, established in 1917 and the seventh oldest university on the Indian subcontinent, is the most prominent among these. It has 11 colleges, including the Science College, Patna, B.N.College, Patna, Women's College, Patna, Patna College, Patna and Patna Medical College and Hospital, Patna. Patna Women's College is one of the leading women's colleges in Bihar, followed by Magadh Mahila College.

Three engineering colleges are managed by the Government of Bihar:

  1. Bihar College of Engineering, now National Institute of Technology, Patna
  2. Bhagalpur College of Engineering
  3. Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology

Following is a list of the medical colleges in Bihar:

  1. Patna Medical College and Hospita, and Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, at Patna
  2. Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital at Muzaffarpur
  3. Magadh Medical College and Hospital at Gaya and
  4. Bhagalpur Medical College and Hospital at Bhagalpur
  5. Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital at Darbhanga

Management Institutes:

  1. L.N.Mishra Institute of Economic Growth and Social Changes, Patna.
  2. Gaya College (Affiliated to Magadh University), Gaya, Bihar.
  3. Indian Institute of Business Management (Recognised by AICTE, New Delhi), Buddh Marg, Patna - 800 001.
  4. Patna Women's College (Affiliated to Patna University), Bailey Road, Patna.
  5. Shanti Sewa Samiti's Indian Institute of Hotel Management, 11 IAS Colony, Kidwaipuri, Patna - 800 001.

International Yoga Institutes :

  1. Bihar School of Yoga, Munger.

Silk Institute :

  1. Institute of Silk Technology, Bhagalpur

Retrieved from ""