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Vaishali district,Bihar

Vaishali district is a district in Bihar, India. It is named after the ancient city of Vaishali of Mithila, which is mentioned in the Mahabharata as well as in Buddhism and Jainism. It is a part of Tirhut division.

History
Ancient Vaishali

Vaishali derives its name from King Vishal. Even before the advent of Buddhism and Jainism, Vaishali was the capital of the vibrant Licchavi Republic, a sovereign state since before the birth of Mahavira (c. 599 BC), which suggests that it was perhaps the first republic in the world, similar to those later found in ancient Greece.[2] In that period, Vaishali was an ancient metropolis and the capital city of the republic of the Vaishali state, which covered most of the Himalayan Gangetic region of present-day Bihar. Very little is known about the early history of Vaishali. The Vishnu Purana records 34 monarchs of Vaishali, the first being Nabhaga, who is believed to have abdicated his throne over a matter of human rights and believed to have declared: “I am now a free tiller of the soil, king over my acre.” The last among the 34 was Sumati, who is considered a contemporary of Dasharatha, father of the Hindu god, Rama.

Numerous references to Vaishali are found in texts pertaining to both Jainism and Buddhism, which have preserved much information on Vaishali and the other mahajanapadas. Based on the information found in these texts, Vaishali was established as a republic by the 6th century BCE, prior to the birth of Gautama Buddha in 563 BCE, making it the world’s first republic.

Mahavira was born in Vaishali. Gautama Buddha delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and announced his Parinirvana there. Vaishali is also renowned as the home of Amrapali, a great courtesan who appears in many folktales as well as in Buddhist literature. Amrapali became a disciple of Gautama Buddha.

A kilometre away is Abhishek Pushkarini, the coronation tank. The sacred waters of the tank anointed the elected representatives of Vaishali. Next to it stands the Japanese temple and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa built by the Nipponzan-Myōhōji-Daisanga sect, a Japanese new religion. A small number of śarīra found in Vaishali have been enshrined in the foundation and in the chhatra of this stupa. Near the coronation tank is Stupa 1 or the Relic Stupa. Here the Licchavis reverentially encased one of the eight portions of Buddha’s relics, which they received after his Parinirvana. After his last discourse, Buddha set out for Kushinagar, but the Licchavis kept following him. Buddha gave them his alms bowl but they still refused to return. The Master created an illusion of a river in spate which compelled them to go back. This site can be identified with Deora in modern Kesaria, where Ashoka later built a stupa. Ananda, the favourite disciple of the Buddha, attained Nirvana in the midst of the Ganges outside Vaishali.

The Islamic curse fell on Vaishalin13th century when repeated Muslim invasions led to mass beheading and forced conversions. Buddhism gradually disappeared among the local populace due to the hostility of Muslims towards the atheist nature of Buddhism.

Post-Independence
Vaishali became a district when it was split from Muzaffarpur in 1972.
Places to See in Vaishali

Vaishali is a small village in Bihar with a tremendous tourism potential. According to the historians, Vaishali is one of the first democratic republics of the world.

Recent excavations has brought Vaishali in the limelight and the historical and archaeological importance of the area has resurfaced. Located at an altitude of 52 meters, the best time to visit the lovely place is between the months of October and March.

Vaishali is a great place of enormous tourist interests. The main places to see in and around Vaishali are:
Ashokan Pillar
built by the great ruler Ashoka, the pillar is an extensively polished single piece of red sandstone, with a bell shaped capital and 18.30 meters in height. The top of the pillar comprise of a life size lion figure. The small tank beside the pillar is called the Ramkund.
Bawan Powar Temple
an ancient temple built during the Pala period. The temple contains excellent images of hindu gods.
Buddha Stupa
It is said that one eighth of Buddha’s sacred ashes is enshrined in this Stupa inside a stone casket.
Shanti Stupa
another beautiful and serene Stupa, which is built by the Buddha Vihar Society.
Kundalpur
A holy place for the Jains, it is believed that Mahavira spent his first twenty two years of life in this place.
Other fascinating spots are:

  • Raja Vishal Ka Garh
  • Abhiskek Puskaran
  • Budha Stupa II
  • Vaishali Museum
  • Choumukhi Mahadeva
  • World Peace Pagoda
  • Vaishali is connected by all the means of transport. At Patna, about 70 kms from Vaishali is the nearest airport. This place is also well connected by railway lines and roads.