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Bihar (, , ) is a state in eastern India.[1][2] It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25,[3] which is the highest proportion in India.

Bihar lies mid-way between West Bengal in the east and Uttar Pradesh in the west. It is bounded by the country of Nepal to the north and by Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Ganges which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km ,[4] which is 6.8% of its geographical area. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, while the majority of the people speak Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi, Maithili and Bajjika.

Ancient Bihar (which consisted of Anga, Videha/Mithila, Magadha and Vajji/Vrijji) was a centre of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India.[5] Out of five "The Greats" from India, four greats belonged to this region of India, Magadh: Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Samudragupta and Vikramaditya. From Magadha arose India's first and greatest empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism.[6] Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.[7] Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important centre of Indian civilization.Nalanda and Vikramshila were centres of learning established in the 5th and 8th century respectively in Bihar, and are counted amongst the oldest and truly international universities, where people all over the world came to study. Bihar has distinction of giving the world its first democracy through Lichchivi (modern days Vaishali) during ancient era.

Today, Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human, economic development terms.[8][9][10] Economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government, such as the freight equalization policy,[11][12] its apathy towards Bihar,[3][13][14] lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state),[12][15][16] and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company.[12] The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance.[17]

The improved governance has led to an economic revival[18] in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a diminution in crime and corruption.[19][20] Indian[21] and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity to sustain its growth and thus they have shown interest in investing in the state.[22][23] A recent New York Times article talks about the vastly improved law and order situation in the state and the phenomenal economic growth shown over the course of last 5 years.[24] Another BBC article titled "Where 'backward' Bihar leads India"[25] talked about how the state has made strides in the areas of women empowerment, judicial reforms, tax reforms, and public safety. Between 2003 and 2008, the inflow of foreign tourists saw a near-sixfold rise from 61,000 to 346,000.[26] In 2011, Bihar was identified as the "least corrupt state" in a study by economists Bibek Debroy and Laveesh Bhandari.[27]



UNESCO World Heritage Site]]. The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word Vihara (Devanagari: ), which means "abode". The region roughly encompassing the present state was dotted with Buddhist vihara, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods. Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabakat-i-Nasiri that in 1198 AD, Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town now known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km away from Bodh Gaya.[28][29] Later, Bakhtiyar learned that the town was a college, and the word for college is bihar.


Falgu]] in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. Ancient Bihar, known as Magadha, was the center of power, learning, and culture in India for 1000 years. India's first empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's greatest pacifist religion, Buddhism arose from the region that now makes modern Bihar. The Mauryan empire, originated from Magadha in 325 BC, was started by Chandragupta Maurya who was born in Magadha, and had its capital at Patliputra (modern Patna). The Mauryan Emperor, , who was born in Patliputra (Patna) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of India and the world.[30][31] According to Indologist A.L. Basham, the author of the book The Wonder that was India:

Bihar remained an important place of holi, culture and education during the next 1000 years. The Gupta Empire, which again originated from Magadha in 240 AD, is referred to as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, commerce, religion and Indian philosophy. During Gupta Rule, India was called as "Golden Bird". The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors as well as very strong powerful global economy. Historians place the Gupta dynasty alongside with the Han Dynasty, Tang Dynasty and Roman Empire as a model of a classical civilization. The capital of Gupta empire was Pataliputra, present day Patna. The Vikramshila and Nalanda universities were among the oldest and best centres of education in ancient India. Some writers believe the period between the 400 AD and 1,000 AD saw gains by Hinduism at the expense of Buddhism.[32][33][34][35] The Hindu kings gave much grants to the Buddhist monks for building Brahmaviharas. A National Geographic edition[36] reads:

"The essential tenets of Buddhism and Hinduism arose from similar ideas best described in the Upanishads, a set of Hindu treatises set down in India largely between the eighth and fourth centuries B.C."

Legacy of the Gupta Empire]].

The Buddhism of Magadha was swept away by the invasion under Muhammad Bin Bakhtiar Khilji, during which many of the viharas and the famed universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila were destroyed, and thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred in 12th century.[37][38][39][40][41][42] In the years 1540 the great Pathan of Bihar, Sher Shah Suri, from Sasaram, Bihar, took the reins of North-India. He was the first person who defeated the great Mughals and army of Humayun, making Delhi as his capital. The Mughals had to leave India during his rule. Sher Shah is considered as one of the most progressive emperors during Mughal era. He made several economic transformations, infrastructural improvement, highways (the famous Grand Trunk road), discovery of Rupiya (current Indian currency), establishment of modern post offices, policing concept, community and free kitchen and several administrative reforms and social engineering, which, many believe that, influenced the Mughal mindset of ruling in India under Akbar. In the coming time, protocols of governance set by Sher Shah (Sher Khan) had become the standard of governance and exemplery management skills, which influenced future of Mughal Empire, making Akbar to copy Sher Shah's model of administration, despite of Sher Shah being the biggest rival of Mughals.

In a freak accident, while cleaning the gun barrel, Sheh Shah was killed. Sher Shah Suri nephew Adil Shah Suri had deputed 'Hemu' also known as 'Hemu Vikramaditya' as his Prime Minister and Chief-of-Army. Hemu fought and won 22 battles continuously against Afghan rebels and Akbar's forces at Agra and Delhi. Hemu, who was bestowed the title of 'Samrat' at Purana Quila, Delhi was then known as 'Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya'. Hemu lost his life while fighting in the 'Second Battle of Panipat' against Akbar's forces on 7 November 1556, under Maratha forces. Maraths were very strong & fought fought 3 Panipat wars against Mughal, but lost 3rd one. Marath empire was spreded upto Atak & Burma under shahuji Maharaj later. During 1557 1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire.[43] Thus, the medieval period was mostly one of anonymous provincial existence.

The tenth and the last Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna. After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer, and collect revenue or tax) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. The rich resources of fertile land, water and skilled labour had attracted the foreign entrepreneurs, specially the Dutch and Britishers in 18th century. A number of Agrio based industries had been started in Bihar by the foreign entrepreneurs. From this point, Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of British India until 1912, when the province of Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province. Bihar now celebrates its birthday as Bihar Diwas on 22 March from 2010[44]. On the website, you can get information related to Bihar Diwas, the events, and Galleries. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into the separate province of Orissa.

Babu Kunwar Singh of Jagdishpur 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. Resurgence in the history of Bihar came during the struggle for India's independence.

It was from Bihar that Mahatma Gandhi launched his pioneering civil-disobedience movement, Champaran Satyagraha.(Sitting L to R)Dr Rajendra Prasad and Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha during Mahatama Gandhi's 1917 Champaran Satyagraha Bhumihar Brahmins in Champaran had earlier revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914 (at Pipra) and 1916 (Turkaulia) and Pandit Raj Kumar Shukla took Mahatma Gandhi to Champaran and the Champaran Satyagraha began.[45] Raj Kumar Shukla drew the attention of Mahatma Gandhi to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters. Champaran Satyagraha received the spontaneous support from many Bihari nationalists like Rajendra Prasad who became the first President of India and Anugrah Narayan Sinha who ultimately became the first Deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.[46]

In the northern and central regions of Bihar, peasants movement was an important consequence of the Freedom Movement. The Kisan Sabha movement started in Bihar under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who had formed in 1929, the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS), to mobilize peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights.[47] Gradually the peasant movement intensified and spread across the rest of India. All these radical developments on the peasant front culminated in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936 with Swami Sahajanand Saraswati elected as its first President.[48] This movement aimed at overthrowing the feudal (zamindari) system instituted by the British. It was led by Swami Sahajanand Saraswati and his followers Pandit Yamuna Karjee, Rahul Sankrityayan, Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Baba Nagarjun and others. Pandit Yamuna Karjee along with Rahul Sankritayan and a few others started publishing a Hindi weekly Hunkar from Bihar, in 1940. Hunkar later became the mouthpiece of the peasant movement and the agrarian movement in Bihar and was instrumental in spreading it.

Bihar made an immense contribution to the Freedom Struggle, with outstanding leaders like Brajkishore Prasad, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, Sri Krishna Sinha, Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Jagjivan Ram, K. B. Sahay, Mulana Mazharul Haque,DR. Maghfoor Ahmad Ajazi,Manzoor Ahsan Ajazi, Jayaprakash Narayan, Thakur Jugal Kishore Sinha, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, Jagannath Sarkar, Ram Dulari Sinha, Basawon Singh, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, Yogendra Shukla, Baikuntha Shukla, Sheel Bhadra Yajee, Pandit Yamuna Karjee and many others who worked for India's freedom relentlessly and helped in the upliftment of the underprivileged masses.[49] Khudiram Bose, Upendra Narayan Jha "Azad", Prafulla Chaki and Baikuntha Shukla were active in revolutionary movement in Bihar.

On 15 January 1934, Bihar was devastated by an earthquake of magnitude 8.4. Some 30,000 people were said to have died in the quake.

The state of Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar in the year 2000.[50] The 2005 Bihar assembly elections ended 15 years of continuous RJD rule in the state, giving way to NDA led by Nitish Kumar.

Bihari migrant workers have faced violence and prejudice in many parts of India, such as Maharashtra, Punjab and Assam.[51][52]

Geography and climate

River Map of Bihar Mountain of Ashrams, Near Sena Village, at Buddha Gaya Flooded farmlands in northern Bihar

. Bihar has a diverse climate.It's temperature is extreme{too hot during summers and too cool during winters} Bihar is a vast stretch of fertile plain. It is drained by the Ganges River, including its northern tributaries Gandak and Koshi, originating in the Nepal Himalayas and the Bagmati originating in the Kathmandu Valley that regularly flood parts of the Bihar plains. The total area covered by the state of Bihar is . the state is located between 21 -58'-10" N ~ 27 -31'-15" N latitude and between 83 -19'-50" E ~ 88 -17'-40" E longitude. Its average elevation above sea level is .

The Ganges divides Bihar into two unequal halves and flows through the middle from west to east. Other Ganges tributaries are the Son River, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Falgu. Though the Himalayas begin at the foothills, a short distance inside Nepal and to the north of Bihar, the mountains influence Bihar's landforms, climate, hydrology and culture. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, for example the Rajgir hills. 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.

Bihar is mildly cold in the winter, with the lowest temperatures being in the range from . Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer, with average highs around . April to mid June are the hottest months. The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October, November, February, and March have a pleasant climate.

Land division

A reason for the poverty that is found so widely in Bihar are the land divisions. The lands started off as huge farmlands covering several acres, but in due course the area drastically reduced as the land was always divided between all the sons and with the continuous divisions a once-huge farmland is converted into several farms which now have became smaller than an average sized room. Another reason is the mistrust between the farmers. They let weeds to grow in the areas between the farmlands so that a proper boundary is not needed, in India alone this wastes almost a hundred thousand acre of fertile farmland.

Flora and fauna

Bauhinia acuminata, locally known as Kachnaar Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km , which is 7.1% of its geographical area.[4] The sub Himalayan foothill of Someshwar and the Dun ranges in the Champaran district are another belt of moist deciduous forests. These also consist of scrub, grass and reeds. Here the rainfall is above 1,600 mm and thus promotes luxuriant Sal forests in the area. The most important trees are Shorea Robusta, Sal Cedrela Toona, Khair, and Semal. Deciduous forests also occur in the Saharsa and Purnia districts.[53] Shorea Robusta (sal), Diospyros melanoxylon (kendu), Boswellia serrata (salai), Terminalia tomentose (Asan), Terminalia bellayoica (Bahera), Terminalia Arjuna (Arjun), Pterocarpus Marsupium (Paisar), Madhuca indica (Mahua) are the common flora across the forest of Bihar. Tiger Reserve]] of Valmiki National Park The Ganges River dolphins, or "sois" are found in the Ganges and Brahmaputra.This river dolphin is the national aquatic animal of India. It is now considered amongst the most endangered mammals of the region. The dolphins range from 2.3 to 2.6 meters in length. They have impaired vision due to the muddy river water but use sonar signals to navigate.Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary, near Bhagalpur is set up to ensure the protection of this species.

Valmiki National Park, West Champaran district, covering about of forest, is the 18th Tiger Reserve of India and is ranked fourth in terms of density of tiger population.[54] It has a diverse landscape, sheltering rich wildlife habitats and floral and faunal composition, along with the prime protected carnivores.


Bihar was the third most populated state of India with total population of 82,998,509 (43,243,795 male and 39,754,714 female).[55][56] Nearly 85% of Bihar's population lived in rural areas. Almost 58% of Biharis were below 25 years age, which is the highest in India. The density was 881. The sex ratio was 919 females per 1000 males. Since ancient times, Bihar has attracted migrants and settlers including Bengalis, Turks from Central Asia, Persians, Afghans and Punjabi Hindu refugees during the Partition of British India in 1947.[57] Bihar has a total literacy rate of 63.82% (75.7% for males and 55.1% for females).[58] As of 2011 census, the density has surpassed 1,000 per square kilometer, India's densest state, but is still lower than West Java or Banten of Indonesia.

Government and administration

Vidhansabha Building, Patna

The constitutional head of the Government of Bihar is the 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 the Chief Secretary. Under this position, 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.

The state is divided into 09 divisions and 38 districts, for administrative purposes. The various districts included in the divisions Patna, Tirhut, Saran, Darbhanga, Kosi, Purnia, Bhagalpur, Munger and Magadh Division, are as listed below.


See also: Political parties in Bihar, Elections in Bihar

Dr Sri Krishna Sinha (right) with Dr Anugrah Narayan Sinha (left) during swearing-in ceremony of independent Bihar's first government on 15 August 1947

Bihar was an important part of India's struggle for independence. Gandhi became the mass leader only after the Champaran Satyagraha that he launched on the repeated request of a local leader, Raj Kumar Shukla, and Gandhi was supported by Rajendra Prasad, Anugrah Narayan Sinha and Brajkishore Prasad.

The first Bihar governments in 1937 and 1946 were led by two eminent leaders Sri Babu (Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha) and Anugrah Babu (Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha) who were men of unimpeachable integrity and great public spirit.[59] They ran an exemplary government in Bihar.[59] Bihar was rated as the best administered among the states in the country at that time.[60]

Even after independence, when India was falling into an autocratic rule during the regime of Indira Gandhi, the main thrust to the movement to hold elections came from Bihar under the leadership of Jayaprakash Narayan. The airport of Patna is also named after him.

This resulted in two things:

  1. Bihar gained an anti-establishment image. The establishment-oriented press often projected the state as prone to low discipline and anarchy.
  2. As a result, the identity of Bihar, representing a glorious past, was lost. Its voice often used to get lost in the din of regional clamor of other states, specially the linguistic states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, etc.

Since the regional identity was slowly getting sidelined, its place was taken up by caste based politics, power initially being in the hands of the Bhumihar, Rajput, Kayastha and Brahmin. After independence, the power was shared by the two great Gandhians Dr. Sri Krishna Sinha, who later became the first Chief Minister of Bihar and Dr. Anugrah Narayan Sinha, who decidedly was next to him in the cabinet and served as the first deputy Chief Minister cum Finance Minister of Bihar.In the late 1960s, the death of Mr. Lalit Narayan Mishra, the Indian Railway minister (who was killed by a hand grenade attack for which Central leadership is blamed most of the time) pronounced the end of indigenous work oriented mass leaders. For two decades, the Congress ruled the state with the help of puppet chief ministries hand in glove with the central government (Indira Gandhi) ignoring the welfare of the people of the state. It was at this time that Chandrashekhar Singh became the Chief Minister. It was the time when a prominent leader like Satyendra Narayan Sinha took sides with the Janata Party and deserted congress from where his political roots originated, following the ideological differences with the congress. Idealism did assert itself in the politics from time to time, viz, 1977 when a wave defeated the entrenched Congress Party and then again in 1989 when Janata Dal came to power on an anti corruption wave. In between, the socialist movement tried to break the stranglehold of the status quoits under the leadership of Mahamaya Prasad Sinha and Karpoori Thakur. Unfortunately, this could not flourish, partly due to the impractical idealism of these leaders and partly due to the machinations of the central leaders of the Congress Party who felt threatened by a large politically aware state. Communist Party in Bihar was formed in 1939. The Communist movement in Bihar was led by veteran communist leaders like the venerable Pandit Karyanand Sharma, Indradeep Sinha, Sunil Mukherjee, Jagannath Sarkar, Rahul Sankrityayan and others.[59]

The Communist Party in Bihar was a formidable force, and were in the forefront of all the progressive movements in Bihar. It was the Communist Party of Bihar headed by Jagannath Sarkar which fought against the "total revolution" of Jaya Prakash Narain.

Janata Dal came to power in the state in 1990 on the back of its victory at the national stage in 1989. Lalu Prasad Yadav became Chief Minister after winning the race of legislative party leadership by a slender margin against Ram Sundar Das, a former chief minister from the Janata Party and close to eminent Janata Party leaders like Chandrashekhar and S N Sinha. Later, Lalu Prasad Yadav gained popularity with the masses through a series of popular and populist measures. The principled socialists, Nitish Kumar included, gradually left him and Lalu Prasad Yadav by 1995, was both Chief Minister as well as the President of his party, Rashtriya Janata Dal. He was a charismatic leader who had the people's support. But he couldn't bring the derailed wagon of development of the state onto the track. When corruption charges got serious, he quit the post of CM but anointed his wife as the CM and ruled through proxy. In this period, the administration deteriorated quickly.

By 2004, 14 years after Lalu's victory, The Economist magazine said that "Bihar [had] become a byword for the worst of India, of widespread and inescapable poverty, of corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons they patronize, caste-ridden social order that has retained the worst feudal cruelties".[61] In 2005, the World Bank believed that issues faced by the state was "enormous" because of "persistent poverty, complex social stratification, unsatisfactory infrastructure and weak governance".[62]

In 2005, as disaffection reached a crescendo among the masses including the middle classes, the RJD was voted out of power and Lalu Prasad Yadav lost an election to a coalition headed by his previous ally and now rival Nitish Kumar. Despite the separation of financially richer Jharkhand, Bihar has actually seen more positive growth in recent years under his leadership.

Currently, there are two main political formations: the NDA which comprises Janata Dal, Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Janata Dal led coalition which also has the Indian National Congress. There are myriad other political formations. Ram Vilas Paswan led Lok Janshakti Party is a constituent of the UPA at the center. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, but is weakened now. The CPM and Forward Bloc have a minor presence, along with the other extreme Left. In the 2010 state elections Bihar's current Chief Minister Nitish Kumar led government got thunderous support from public and won 206 seats out of 243 seats. Analysts and even Nitish Kumar's political opponents credit Kumar's excellent pro-public governance centered around development, curb on crime and corruption and given importance of all sections of society.[63] In the past 5 years Bihar made fast progress and has implemented many novel ideas, for which it is held in high esteem by other states of India. The recent performance in assembly elections and mature voting by people of Bihar, which also saw for the first time in Indian electorates the highest number of female voting, is being called as something to follow all over India to bring political maturity in the nation and improve the quality of governance and politicians by rightfully exercising the democratic rights in true sense. Bihar is credited to set this example. Also after coming to power again in 2010, the current government immediately started its movement against corruption[64] by confiscating properties of corrupt officials and opening schools in them.[65] Simultaneously they introduced Bihar Special Court Act to curb crime.[66]


Year Gross State Domestic Product
(millions of Indian Rupees)[67]

Bihar accounts for 65% of India's annual litchi production.[69] A village market Farm workers in Bihar

The economy of Bihar is largely service oriented, but it has a significant agricultural base. The state also has a small industrial sector. As of 2008, agriculture accounted for 35%, industry 9% and service 55% of the economy of the state.[70] Among all the sectors, the manufacturing sector performed very poorly in the state between 2002 2006, with an average growth rate of 0.38% compared to India's 7.8%. Bihar was the lowest GDP per capita in India, although there are pockets of higher than average per capita income.[71] Between 1999 and 2008, GDP grew by 5.1% a year, which was below the Indian average of 7.3%.[72] More recently, Bihar's state GDP recorded a growth of 18% between 2006 2007, and stood at 94251 Crores Rupees[73] ($21 billion nominal GDP). In the five-year period of 2004 2009, Bihar's GDP grew at a stunning rate of 11.03%.[74] This makes Bihar the fastest growing major state. In actual terms, Bihar state GDP was ranked second out of 28 states, next only to Gujarat.[74]

Corruption is an import hurdle for the government to overcome according to Transparency International India, which highlighted Bihar as the union's most corrupt state in a 2005 report. Despite the recent economic gains, significant challenges remain and the government has also stated that combating corruption is now the biggest challenge the administration is faced with.[75][76]

Bihar has emerged as brewery hub with major domestic and foreign firms setting up production units in the state. Three major firms — United Breweries Group, Danish Brewery Company Carlsberg Group and Cobra Beer — are to set up new units in Patna and Muzaffarpur in 2012.[77]

Bihar has significant levels of production of mango, guava, litchi, pineapple, brinjal, cauliflower, bhindi, and cabbage.[78] Despite the state's leading role in food production, investment in irrigation and other agriculture facilities has been inadequate. Historically, the sugar and vegetable oil industries were flourishing sectors of Bihar. Until the mid-1950s, 25% of India's sugar output was from Bihar. Dalmianagar was a large agro-industrial town. There were attempts to industrialize the state between 1950 and 1980: an oil refinery in Barauni, a motor scooter plant at Fatuha, and a power plant at Muzaffarpur. However, these were forced to shut down due to certain central government policies (like the Freight Settlement Policy) which neutralized the strategic advantages of Bihar. Hajipur, near Patna, remains a major industrial town in the state, linked to the capital city through the Ganges bridge and good road infrastructure.

The state's debt was estimated at 77% of GDP by 2007.[79] The Finance Ministry has given top priority to create investment opportunities for big industrial houses like Reliance Industries. Further developments have taken place in the growth of small industries, improvements in IT infrastructure, the new software park in Patna, and the completion of the expressway from the Purvanchal border through Bihar to Jharkhand. In August 2008, a Patna registered company called the Security and Intelligence Services (SIS) India Limited[80] took over the Australian guard and mobile patrol services business of American conglomerate, United Technologies Corp (UTC). SIS is registered and taxed in Bihar.[81] The capital city, Patna, is one of the better-off cities in India when measured by per capita income.[82]

Income distribution: North-south divide

In terms of income, the districts of Patna, Munger and Begusarai were the three best-off out of a total of 38 districts in the state, recording the highest per capita gross district domestic product of Rs 31,441, Rs 10,087 and Rs 9,312, respectively in 2004-05.[83]


IIT Patna Students carrying the Institute Flag at the annual Inter IIT Sports Meet Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the ancient universities of Nalanda (established in 450 CE), Odantapur (established in 550CE) and Vikramshila (established in 783 AD).[84] Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when it is believed that marauding armies of the Muslim invaders from the Middle East destroyed these centers of learning.[85] The current state of education and research is not satisfactory though the current state government claims big achievements in school education.

Bihar saw a revival of its education system during the later part of the British rule when they established Patna University (established in 1917) which is the seventh oldest university of the Indian subcontinent.[86] Some other centers of high learning established by the British rule are Patna College (established in 1839), Bihar School of Engineering (established in 1900; now known as National Institute of Technology, Patna), Prince of Wales Medical College (1925; now Patna Medical College and Hospital), Science College, Patna (1928) among others.

After independence Bihar lost the pace in terms of establishing a centre of education. Modern Bihar has a grossly inadequate educational infrastructure creating a huge mismatch between demand and supply. This problem further gets compounded by the growing aspirations of the people and an increase in population. The craving for higher education among the general population of Bihar has led to a massive migration of the student community from the state.

Literacy rate from 1951 to 2001[87]
Year Total Males Females
1961 21.95 35.85 8.11
1971 23.17 35.86 9.86
1981 32.32 47.11 16.61
1991 37.49 51.37 21.99
2001 47.53 60.32 33.57
2011 63.82 73.39 53.33

Bihar, with female literacy at 53.3%, is striving to climb as the government has established educational institutions. At the time of independence, women's literacy in Bihar was 4.22%. Bihar has a National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Patna and an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Patna. A recent survey by Pratham[88] rated the absorption of their teaching by the Bihar children better than those in other states.

As on date, there are six engineering colleges for boys and one for girls in public sector and nine others in the private sector in Bihar. The overall annual intake of these technical institutes offering engineering education to students in Bihar is merely 4,559. As it is, the seventh engineering college of the state government would start its first session from July 2012 at Chhapra, while the process to create infrastructure for three new engineering colleges — one each at Madhepura, Begusarai and Sitamarhi — has started.[89]

Bihar established several new education institutes between 2006 and 2008. BIT Mesra started its Patna extension center in September 2006. On 8 August 2008, IIT was inaugurated in Patna with students from all over India.[90] NSIT opened its new college in Bihta, which is now emerging as a new education hub in Bihar, in 2008.[91][92] MIT, Muzaffarpur (1954) is also a prominent engineering college in Bihar.[93] National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER)[94] is being set up in Hajipur. On 4 August 2008, National Institute of Fashion Technology Patna was established as ninth such institute in India.[95] Chanakya National Law University a law university and Chandragupt Institute of Management was established in later half of 2008. Steps to revive the ancient Nalanda University as Nalanda International University is being taken; countries like Japan, Korea and China have also taken initiatives. The Aryabhatt Knowledge University in Patna is framed to which all the engineering as well medical colleges are affiliated in Bihar. The A.N. Sinha Institute[96] of Social Studies is a premier research institute in the state.

Bihar is pioneer in the field of yoga with its internationally renowned institute Bihar School of Yoga in Munger.

Bihar e-Governance Services & Technologies (BeST) and the Government of Bihar have initiated a unique program to establish a center of excellence called Bihar Knowledge Center, a finishing school to equip students with the latest skills and customized short-term training programs at an affordable cost. The center aims to attract every youth of the state to hone up their technical, professional and soft skills and prepare them for the present industry requirement/job market.[97]

The Bihar government has decided to open few more universities in the coming years. They are Rashtra Kavi Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Hindi University at Begusarai and a women's university. Other specialised institutes will be Bihar Sports University and Bihar University of Information Technology. Despite of this, no major improvement in education and research has been observed in the state. The state was gifted with a Central University, which is facing the government's apathy and has been thrown into doldrums with respect to its location: The central government recommends it to be near Patna which has got required infrastructure and connectivity for university with central status, the state government is adamant to send it to the border town of Motihari. Similarly the Nalanda International University has landed into deep controversy with recruitment of its VC and no serious effort to raise it. The state thoroughly lacks any central research institution like DST, CSIR, DBT, ISRO, etc., which speaks a lot about the neglected condition of Scientific pursuit in the state. Interestingly one of the most efficient, natural and historically significant spot of Taregana, where astronomers like Aryabhatta worked, stands as neglected, though it deserved a national lab in astronomy and space research.

Bihar also has Central Institute of Plastic Engineering & Technology(CIPET) and Institute of Hotel Management( a Central govt Unit) in Hajipur.


Language and literature

Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state (recently Maithili is also included as one of the official languages of the state, although the usage of the language for official purposes is negligible), while the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages Maithili, Angika, Magadhi or Bhojpuri . Presently Bihari languages are considered one of the five subgroups of Hindi; however, Maithili was declared a separate language. However, these are considered to be derived from the language of the erstwhile Magadha state Magadhi Prakrit, along with Bengali, Assamese, and Oriya. Bihari Hindi, a slang form of Standard Hindi, is used as a lingua franca and many speak it as their first language throughout the state. A small minority also speak Bengali, mainly in big districts or along the border area with West Bengal. Many Bengali speakers are people from West Bengal or Hindu people from erstwhile East Pakistan who immigrated during the Partition of India in 1947. Though Urdu and Bihari languages may relate to each other, however they are different in many ways. Few words in Bihari language sounds same as they are spoken in Urdu; e.g. Sulf-nazuk in Bihari is Sinf-e-Nazuk in Urdu. Also, masculine and feminine words are often not clear in Bihari language as these are in Urdu.

In spite of the large number of speakers of Bihari languages, they have not been constitutionally recognized in India. Hindi is the language used for educational and official matters in Bihar.[98] These languages were legally absorbed under the subordinate label of 'HINDI' in the 1961 Census. Such state and national politics have created conditions for language endangerment.[99]

The first success for spreading Hindi occurred in Bihar in 1881, when Hindi displaced Urdu as the sole official language of the province and became the first state of India to adopt Hindi. In this struggle between competing Hindi and Urdu, the potential claims of the three large mother tongues in the region Magahi, Bhojpuri and Maithili were ignored. After independence Hindi was again given the sole official status through the Bihar Official Language Act, 1950.[100] Urdu became the second official language in the undivided State of Bihar on 16 August 1989.

The relationship of Maithili community with Bhojpuri and Magahi communities the immediate neighbors have been neither very pleasant nor very hostile. Maithili has been the only one among them which has been trying to constantly deny superimposition of Hindi over her identity. As of now Maithili is a separate language that uses Devanagari as the writing script rather than its own script Mithilakshar due to lack of the development of the printing press and also due to ignorance. The other two have given up their claims and have resigned to accept the status of dialects of Hindi.

Bihar has produced a number of writers and scholars, including Mahamahopadhyaya Pandit Ram Avatar Sharma, Dr. Bhagwati Sharan Mishra, R. K. Sinha, Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar', Ram Briksh Benipuri, Phanishwar Nath 'Renu', Pandit Nalin Vilochan Sharma, Gopal Singh "Nepali", Baba Nagarjun, Mridula Sinha, and Pankaj Rag. Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, the great writer and Buddhist scholar, was born in U.P. but spent his life in the land of Lord Buddha, i.e., Bihar. Hrishikesh Sulabh is the prominent writer of the new generation. He is short story writer, playwright and theatre critic. Arun Kamal and Aalok Dhanwa are the well-known poets. Different regional languages also have produced some prominent poets and authors. Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, who is among the greatest writers in Bengali, resided for some time in Bihar. Of late, the latest Indian writer in English, Upamanyu Chatterjee also hails from Patna in Bihar. 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. Vidyapati Thakur is the most renowned poet of Maithili (c. 14 15th century).

Interestingly, the first Indian author in English was a Bihari, Deen Mohammad. Among the contemporary writers in English Amitava Kumar, Tabish Khair, Birbal Jha and Siddharth Choudhary are important names. Siddharth Choudhary has been shortlisted for 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize for his book Day Scholar. Bihar has also made important contributions to Urdu literature. Famous Urdu writers Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, Manazir Ahsan Gilani, Jabir Husain, Hussain Ul Haque; Eminent Writer, Critic, Bibliographist, Linguist & Scholar of Urdu language Abdul Qavi Desnavi; Eminent Poets Shad Azimabadai, Nasikh, Jamil Mazhari, Mazhar Imam, Suhail Azimabadi; Short story writers Akhtar Orenivi, Shaukat Hayat, Shamoel Ahmed; and Paigham Afaqui (novel Makaan), Abdus Samad (novel Do Gaz Zameen), Husainul Haque (novel Farat), Ilyas Ahmed Gaddi (novel Fire Area) enjoy special place in global literature.

The literary and cultural movement Bhookhi Peedhi, or 'Hungry generation', was launched from Bihar's capital in November 1961 by two brothers, Samir Roychoudhury and Malay Roy Choudhury. The movement impacted most of the Indian languages of the time.

Urdu is second government language in Bihar which is the mother tongue of Muslims who form about 17% of state's population. Near 25% people in Bihar read and write Urdu. Bihar has produced many Urdu scholars, such as Shaad Azimabadi, Jamil Maz'hari, Khuda Baksh Khan, Maulana Shabnam Kamali, Bismil Azimabadi (poet known for the patriotic ghazal "Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamare dil mein hai"), Kaif Azimabadi, Rasikh Azimabadi, and in these days, Kalim Aajiz.

Arts and crafts

Madhubani painting Madhubani painting is a style of Indian painting practiced in the Mithila region of Bihar,where powdered rice is colored and is stuck. Tradition states that this style of painting originated at the time of the Ramayana, when King Janak commissioned artists to do paintings at the time of marriage of his daughter, Sita, to Lord Ram. The painting was traditionally done on freshly plastered mud wall of huts, but now it is also done on cloth, hand-made paper and canvas. Madhubani painting mostly depict nature and Hindu religious motifs, and the themes generally revolve around Hindu deities like Krishna, Ram, Shiva, Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. Natural objects like the sun, the moon, and religious plants like tulsi are also widely painted, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Generally no space is left empty. Traditionally, painting was one of the skills that was passed down from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region, mainly by women. The painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, and other milestones of the life-cycle such as birth, Upanayanam (Sacred thread ceremony), and marriage.

Manjusha Kala or Angika Art is an art form of Anga region of Bihar. Notably artist Jahar Dasgupta born in Jamshedpur, Bihar which is presently under state Jharkhand.

A painting of the city of Patna, on the River Ganges, Patna School of Painting Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company painting, offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature School of Painting flourished in Bihar during early 18th to mid-20th century. The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during late 18th century. They shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, but unlike them (whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes), the Patna painters also started painting bazaar scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica. Favourite subjects were scenes of Indian daily life, local rulers, and sets of festivals and ceremonies. Most successful were the studies of natural life, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that formed the nucleus for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. College of Arts and Crafts, Patna is an important centre of fine arts in Bihar. Artisans selling their work near GPO Patna.

The artisans of Bihar have been very skillful in creating articles using local materials. Baskets, cups and saucers made from bamboo-strips or cane reed are painted in vivid colors are commonly found in Bihari homes. A special container woven out of Sikki Grass in the north, the "pauti", is a sentimental gift that accompanies a bride when she leaves her home after her wedding. The weavers of Bihar have been practicing their trade for centuries. Among their products in common use are the cotton dhurries and curtains. They are produced by artisans in central Bihar, particularly in the Patna and Biharsharif areas. These colourful sheets, with motifs of Buddhist artifacts, pictures of birds, animals, and/or flowers, gently wafting in the air through doors and windows, blown by a cool summer breeze, used to be one of the most soothing sights as one approached a home or an office. Bhagalpur is well known for its seri-culture, manufacture of silk yarn and weaving them into lovely products. It is known as the tussah or tusser silk.

Performing arts

Magahi folk singers Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan, from Dumraon, Bihar

Bihar has contributed to the Indian (Hindustani) classical music and has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna Ustad Bismillah Khan, who later migrated out of Bihar. Dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana), who were patronised by the Zamindars of Darbhanga and Bettiah respectively, have produced maestros like Ram Chatur Mallik, Abhay Narayan Mallick, Indra Kishore Mishra.

Perhaps, not well acknowledged and commercialised as those from the Dagar school of Dhrupad, they have kept the Dhrupad tradition in perhaps the purest forms. Gaya was another centre of excellence in classical music, particularly of the Tappa and Thumri variety. Pandit Govardhan Mishra, son of the Ram Prasad Mishra, himself, an accomplished singer, is perhaps the finest living exponent of Tappa singing in India today, according to Padmashri Gajendra Narayan Singh, former Chairman of Bihar Sangeet Natak Academy. Gajendra Narayan Singh also writes in his latest book "surile Logon Ki Sangat" that Champanagar, Banaili was another major centre of classical music. Rajkumar Shyamanand Sinha of Champanagar Banaili estate was a great patron of music and himself, was one of the finest exponents of classical vocal music in Bihar in his time. Gajendra Narayan Singh in his other book "Swar Gandh" has written that "Kumar Shyamanand Singh of Banaili estate had such expertise in singing that many great singers including Kesarbai Kerkar were convinced about his prowess in singing. After listening to Bandishes from Kumar Saheb, Pandit Jasraj was moved to tears and lamented that alas! he could have such ability himself" (free translation of Hindi text).

Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, such as marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. and the most famous folk singer has been Padma Shri Sharda Sinha. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of many musical instruments like Dholak, Bansuri and occasionally Tabla and Harmonium are used. Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs known as 'Phagua', filled with fun rhythms. During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar worsened under the British misrule, many Biharis had to migrate as indentured laborers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called biraha became very popular, in the Bhojpur area. Dramas on that theme continue to be popular in the theaters of Patna.

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.

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


Bihari society is not significantly vegetarian and eating of meat is common. However, people discourage eating meat daily and many Hindus don't eat meat on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The main meat items preferred are fish, chicken and goat meat. Many Hindus and Muslims considers Lamb's Mutton as offensive. In Bihar people generally have boiled rice, daal and sabzi (vegetables) in lunch. Roti is usually served for dinner as against lunch. The traditional cooking medium is mustard oil. Khichdi, a broth of rice and lentils seasoned with spices and served with several accompanying items, constitutes the mid-day meal for most Hindu Biharis on Saturdays. The favourite dish among Biharis is litti-chokha. Litti is made up of dough stuffed with sattu (ground powder coming from roasted brown chickpeas) then boiled in water. It is then fried in oil, but little oil is used since it has been pre-boiled. The other way of cooking Litti is grilling it on red hot coal. Chokha is made of mashed potatoes, fried onions, salt, cilantro, and carrom seeds. Chokha of brinjal is also famous. Litti is also accompanied with ghee and channa (small brown chickpeas with onions and masala).

Chitba and Pitthow which are prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and Chewda of Katarni rice are also special preparations of Anga. Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yogurt and besan. This dish goes very well with plain rice. In snacks kachri - bhuja and murhi - kachri - jalebi is famous in most of families. Out of Bihar bhuja is called bhel - puri. kachri is made by mixing besan and onion with spices and chilli, and then fried in oil.

Bihar offers a large variety of sweet delicacies which, unlike those from Bengal, are mostly dry. These include Anarasa, Belgrami, Chena Murki, Motichoor ke Laddoo, Kala Jamun, Kesaria Peda, Khaja, Khurma, Khubi ki Lai, Laktho, Parwal ki Mithai, Pua & Mal Pua, Thekua, Murabba and Tilkut. Tilkut and Anarsa from Gaya is quite famous and Lai from Dhanarua is also famous. Gurahi Laddu is also famous from Bhabua. Many of these originate in towns in the vicinity of Patna. Several other traditional salted snacks and savories popular in Bihar are Chiwra, Dhuska, Litti, Makhana and Sattu. Khaja from Silaw, Nalanda is very famous in the state.

There is a distinctive Bihari flavor to the non-vegetarian cuisine 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 Bihari non-vegetarian dish. These are popular and go by the generic name Roll Bihari in and around Lexington Avenue (South) in New York City. There is a very popular non-vegetarian dish called Tash, made by frying marinated mutton and eaten with Chewra, the flattened rice. This particular dish is popular in Motihari and Bettiah. Fish Curry cooked in mustard paste with Rice (maaach-bhaat) is also a popular dish in non-vegetarian Maithili homes.

Islamic culture and food, with Bihari flavor are also part of Bihar's unique confluence of cultures. Famous food items include Biharee Kabab, Shami Kabab, Nargisi Kufte, Shabdeg, Yakhnee Biryanee, Motton Biryani, Shaljum Gosht, Baqer Khani, Kuleecha, Naan Rootee, Sawee ka Zarda, Qemamee Sawee, Gajar ka Halwa and Ande ka Zafrani Halwa among many others.

Cuisine of Mithila Region

There is a custom of eating Boiled Rice based lunch and Roti based dinner and breakfast. The food culture is both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. People from Mithilanchal enjoy both veg as well as non-veg dishes and cuisine of Mithilanchal area is unique in its own way. Machchak Jhor is a special fish curry made in mustard paste and is a preparation from Mithila. Maus is generally mutton or chicken or squails (tittar/battair) in a spicy gravy and is generally enjoyed with malpuas. Kankorak Chokha is a Mashed preparation of Crab (Kankor) after roasting the crab. Dokak Jhor generally are Oysters stew cooked with Onion gravy.

Chitba (a flour and sugar pancake) and Pitthow, which is prepared basically from rice, are special foods of the Anga region. Tilba and (choora) of Katarni rice are also special preparations of Anga.

Kadhi bari is a popular favorite and consists of fried soft dumplings made of besan (gram flour) that are cooked in a spicy gravy of yogurt and besan. This dish goes very well with plain rice. People also enjoy eating Chura or Chiwda (beaten rice) with yogurt and sugar. Arikanchanak Tarkari is a preparation of Marinated sun dried Colocasia leaves, steamed and cooked in mustard gravy and is a famous maithil dish,Daail-Jhinguni (Fried Ribbed Gourd cooked with Lentil and cereals), Ramruch is a besan based dish unique to Mithila region,Goidila (a sauce prepared from green peas & flavourings) and is generally had with rice or rotis.

The service style of the cuisine has little similarity with that of Tabal d hote (Table of the Host) of French, yet different being all preparations served together in a platter and consumed at once . Since there is no course wise meal practice therefore there is no well defined Gastronomique practice too, and hence people give equal importance to all kind of preparations and take pleasure in enjoying each n every delicacies to the fullest. Unlike others Maithils enjoy both the quality and quantity of the food and this is the characteristics that differentiates the cuisine and people from others. The best manifestation of this seen in any Traditional Maithil wedding (considered to be a very classical marriage ceremony ever in any culture). Maithils always give immense priority to milk products in their food which could perfectly be measured with this old saying Aadi Ghee aur Ant Dahi, oyi Bhojan k Bhojan kahi (A meal is the Meal that starts with Ghee and ends with Yogurt). The meal practice in mithilanchal is as common as the normal food habit of people which is Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. People also like enjoying some tit bits during evening with a cup of tea. The best breakfast time favorite is Chura Dahi (beaten rice with a thick coating of creamy curd) the table condiments used is salt, green chillies and home made pickles, a spicy mixed vegetable item could also be served along with this item as a side dish. During summer the same Chura is consumed with best quality mango pulp, and the dish is called Chura Aam . Poori Aloo dum is an another breakfast item that people like having along with a sweet dish Jalebi (roundels of deep fried fermented flour batter dipped in sugar syrup). Apart from that there are several other items like Chini wala Roti, Chilha (pan cake made out of flour batter), Suzi k halwa (porridge prepared from semolina), etc. which is preferred for the breakfast. For evening snacks a range of Bhujas are consumed like Chura ka Bhuja (beaten rice shallow fried with sliced onion, chopped green chillies and green peas), Makai ke Lawa (Pop corns), Masalgar Murhi (Rice pops mixed with chopped green chillies, Onion, coriander leaf, salt and few drops of mustard oil) etc. Maithils are also a big time sweet lovers. Varieties of Kheer and other sweet item is prepared as a dessert course. One of the famous among them is Makhanaak Kheer (a sweet dish prepared with Lotus seed, Milk and Dry nuts).and Litti Chokha is also Malpua is another popular sweet item, which is much different from the malpua prepared in north India, both are prepared from the flour batter only but in north India after deep frying malpua is dipped in sugar syrup while in Mithilanchal the batter itself is sweetened and it is a dry preparation which could be stored for 2 3 days. There are also sweet preservatives made out of fruit pulps like Ammath (layered mango pulp sundried and cut into small chunks), Kumhar ke murabba, Papita ke murabba, Dhatrikak murabba etc. The introduction about Mithila Cuisine would remain incomplete without a reference on Paan (betel leaves). According to an old saying Paan, Maach and Makhan (betel leaves, fish and lotus seed) is not found even in the paradise, so one should enjoy these things on earth only so not to regret later. A sweet betel leaf is flavoured with sweet fennel, cardamom, clove, rose petals, sugar crystal and other seasoning, which is taken after completion of the meal.


Buddha's statue at Bodh Gaya's temple Gaya, Bihar]]

Gautam Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya in Bihar. Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th and the last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali around 6th century BC.[101]

A typical Hindu Brahmin household would begin the day with the blowing of a conch shell at dawn.

In rural Bihar, religion is the main component of popular culture. Shrines are located everywhere even at the foot of trees, roadsides, etc., religious symbols or images of deities can be found in the most obscure or the most public places. From the dashboard of a dilapidated taxi to the plush office of a top executive, holy symbols or idols have their place.

There are many variations on the festival theme. While some are celebrated all over the state, others are observed only in certain areas. However Bihar is so diverse that different regions and religions have something to celebrate at some time or the other during the year. So festivals take place round the year. Many of these are officially recognized by the days on which they take place being proclaimed as government holidays.

Bihar Regiment

One of the battle cry of the Bihar Regiment, consisting of 17 battalions, is "Jai Bajrang Bali" (Victory to Lord Hanuman).[102]


The Morning Worship Dala Chhath. Chhath, also called Dala Chhath is an ancient and major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated twice a year: once in the summers, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once around a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. The latter is more popular because winters are the usual festive season in North India, and Chhath being an arduous observance requiring the worshippers to fast without water for more than 24 hours, is easier to do in the Indian winters. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever people from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath. This is a ritual bathing festival that follows a period of abstinence and ritual segregation of the worshiper from the main household for two days. On the eve of Chhath, houses are scrupulously cleaned and so are the surroundings. The ritual bathing and worship of the Sun God takes place, performed twice: once in the evening and once on the crack of the dawn, usually on the banks of a flowing river, or a common large water body. The occasion is almost a carnival, and besides every worshipper, usually women, who are mostly the main ladies of the household, there are numerous participants and onlookers, all willing to help and receive the blessings of the worshiper. Ritual rendition of regional folk songs, carried on through oral transmission from mothers and mothers-in-law to daughters and daughters-in-law, are sung on this occasion for several days on the go. These songs are a great mirror of the culture, social structure, mythology and history of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Chhath being celebrated at the crack of the dawn is a beautiful, elating spiritual experience connecting the modern Indian to his ancient cultural roots. Chhath is believed to be started by Karna, the king of Anga Desh (modern Bhagalpur region of Bihar).

Among ritual observances, the month-long Shravani Mela, held along a 108-kilometre route linking the towns of Sultanganj and Deoghar (now in Jharkhand state), is of great significance. Shravani Mela is organised every year in the Hindu month of Shravan, that is the lunar month of July August. Pilgrims, known as Kanwarias, wear saffron coloured clothes and collect water from a sacred Ghat (river bank) at Sultanganj, walking the stretch barefooted to the town of Deoghar to bathe a sacred Shiva Linga. The observance draws thousands of people to the town of Deoghar from all over India.

Teej and Chitragupta Puja are other local festivals celebrated with fervor in Bihar. Bihula-Bishari Puja is celebrated in the Anga region of Bihar. The Sonepur cattle fair is a month long event starting approximately half a month after Deepawali and is considered the largest cattle fair in Asia. It is held on the banks of the Gandak River in the town of Sonepur. The constraints of the changing times and new laws governing the sale of animals and prohibiting the trafficking in exotic birds and beasts have eroded the once-upon-a-time magic of the fair.

Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of India are celebrated in Bihar, such as Makar Sankranti, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha (often called Eid-ul-Zuha in the Indian Subcontinent), Muharram, Ram Navami, Rath yatra, Rakshabandhan, Maha Shivaratri, Durga Puja is celebrated with a grandeur akin to the neighbouring state of Bengal, Diwali, Kali Puja/Shyama Puja/Nisha Puja is celebrated in the Mithilanchal portion, Kojagra is also celebrated in the Mithilanchal region, Laxmi Puja, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Buddha Purnima, Jivitputrika, Chitragupta Puja, Gurpurab, Bhai Dooj and several other local festivals as well.


Bihar has a robust cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language. There are some small Maithili, Angika and Magadhi film industry. First Bhojpuri Film was Ganga Jamuna released in 1961.[103] "Lagi nahin chute ram" was the all-time superhit Bhojpuri film which was released against "Mugle Azam" but was a superhit in all the eastern and northern sector. Bollywood's Nadiya Ke Paar is among the most famous Bhojpuri language movie. The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan released in 1965,[104] of which a significant portion was made in the Maithili language. Bhaiyaa a Magadhi film was released in 1961.[105] Bhojpuri's history begins in 1962 with the well-received film Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo ("Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari"), which was directed by Kundan Kumar.[106] Throughout the following decades, films were produced only in fits and starts. Films such as Bidesiya ("Foreigner", 1963, directed by S. N. Tripathi) and Ganga ("Ganges", 1965, directed by Kundan Kumar) were profitable and popular, but in general Bhojpuri films were not commonly produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1980s, enough Bhojpuri films were produced to tentatively make up an industry. Films such as Mai ("Mom", 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji ("My Brother's Wife", 1983, directed by Kalpataru) continued to have at least sporadic success at the box office. However, this trend faded out by the end of the decade, and by 1990, the nascent industry seemed to be completely finished.[107]

The industry took off again in 2001 with the super hit Saiyyan Hamar ("My Sweetheart", directed by Mohan Prasad), which shot the hero of that film, Ravi Kissan, to superstardom.[108] This success was quickly followed by several other remarkably successful films, including Panditji Batai Na Biyah Kab Hoi ("Priest, tell me when I will marry", 2005, directed by Mohan Prasad) and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala ("My father-in-law, the rich guy", 2005). In a measure of the Bhojpuri film industry's rise, both of these did much better business in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than mainstream Bollywood hits at the time, and both films, made on extremely tight budgets, earned back more than ten times their production costs.[109] Sasura Bada Paisa Wala also introduced Manoj Tiwari, formerly a well-loved folk singer, to the wider audiences of Bhojpuri cinema. In 2008, he and Ravi Kissan are still the leading actors of Bhojpuri films, and their fees increase with their fame. The extremely rapid success of their films has led to dramatic increases in Bhojpuri cinema's visibility, and the industry now supports an awards show[110] and a trade magazine, Bhojpuri City,[111] which chronicles the production and release of what are now over one hundred films per year. Many of the major stars of mainstream Bollywood cinema, including Amitabh Bachchan, have also recently worked in Bhojpuri films.


Biharbandhu was the first Hindi newspaper published from Bihar. It was started in 1872 by Madan Mohan Bhatta, a Maharashtrian Brahman settled in Biharsharif.[112] Hindi journalism in Bihar, and specially Patna, could make little headway initially. It was mainly due to lack of respect for Hindi among the people at large. Many Hindi journals took birth and after a lapse of time vanished. Many journals were shelved even in the embryo.[113] But once Hindi enlisted the official support, it started making a dent into the remote areas in Bihar. Hindi journalism also acquired wisdom and maturity and its longevity was prolonged. Hindi was introduced in the law courts in Bihar in 1880.[112][114]

Urdu journalism and poetry has a glorious past in Bihar. Many poets belong to Bihar such as Shaad Azimabadi, Kaif Azimabadi, Kalim Ajiz and many more. Shanurahman, a world famous radio announcer, is from Bihar. Many Urdu dailies such as Qomi Tanzim and Sahara publish from Bihar at this time. There is a monthly Urdu magazine called "VOICE OF BIHAR" which is the first of its kind and becoming popular among the Urdu speaking people.

The beginning of the 20th century was marked by a number of notable new publications. A monthly magazine named Bharat Ratna was started from Patna in 1901. It was followed by Ksahtriya Hitaishi, Aryavarta from Dinapure, Patna, Udyoga and Chaitanya Chandrika.[115] Udyog was edited by Vijyaanand Tripathy, a famous poet of the time and Chaitanya Chandrika by Krishna Chaitanya Goswami, a literary figures of that time. The literary activity was not confined to Patna alone but to many districts of Bihar.[112][116]

Magahi Parishad, established in Patna in 1952, pioneered Magadhi journalism in Bihar. It started the monthly journal, Magadhi, which was later renamed Bihan.

DD Bihar and ETV Bihar are the television channels dedicated to Bihar. Sahara Samay, Bihar/Jharkhand is the first 24 hour news channel dedicated to Bihar followed by Mahuaa TV, Hamar TV, Sadhna news, Bhojpuria TV, Arya TV and Maurya TV. Full time Maithili Channel, Saubhagya Mithila caters to maithil households in Mithilanchal (India and Nepal) is the first 24 hr Internet Infotainment channel launched on Bihar Diwas (100 Years).

Hindustan, Dainik Jagran, Aaj, Nayee Baat and Prabhat Khabar are some of the popular Hindi news papers of Bihar. National English dailies like The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Navbharat Times, The Telegraph and The Economic Times have readers in the urban regions.


Steamer]]s and dredgers at Gai Ghat, Patna. Bihar has two operational airports: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna, and the Gaya Airport, Gaya. The Patna airport is connected to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Bangaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune and Ranchi.

The Patna airport is categorized as a restricted international airport, with customs facilities to receive international chartered flights.

The Gaya Airport is an international airport connected to Colombo, Singapore, Bangkok, Paro and more.

Bihar is well-connected by railway lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected, and they also are directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna, Gaya, Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga, Katihar, Barauni and Chhapra, Dehri On Sone are Bihar's best-connected railway stations. Nepal Railways operates two railway lines: a 6 km broad gauge line from Raxaul in India to Sirsiya Inland Container Depot or Dry Port near Birganj in Nepal and a 53 km narrow gauge line from Jaynagar in India to Bijalpura in Nepal. The latter line is composed of two sections: 32 km between Jaynagar and Janakpur and 21 km from Janakpur to Bijalpura. The Janakpur line is used largely for passengers and the Sirsiya (Birganj) line only for cargo freight.

The state has a vast network of National and State highways. East-West corridor goes through the cities of Bihar (Muzaffarpur-Darbhanga-Purnia NH57) 4 6 lanes.

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.

The Ganges navigable throughout the year was the principal river highway across the vast north Indo-Gangetic Plain. Vessels capable of accommodating five hundred merchants were known to ply this river in the ancient period; it served as a conduit for overseas trade, as goods were carried from Pataliputra (later Patna) and Champa (later Bhagalpur) out to the seas and to ports in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. The role of the Ganges as a channel for trade was enhanced by its natural links it embraces all the major rivers and streams in both north and south Bihar.[117]

In recent times, Inland Waterways Authority of India has declared the Ganges between Allahabad and Haldia to be a national inland waterway and has taken steps to restore its navigability.


Trolley ride in Rajgir Vaishali]]

Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, with a history spanning 3,000 years. The too rich culture and heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments spread throughout the state. Bihar is visited by scores of tourists from all over the world,[118] with around 6,000,000 (6 million) tourists visiting Bihar every year.[118]

In earlier days, tourism in the region was purely based educational tourism, as Bihar was home of some prominent ancient universities like Nalanda University & Vikrama la University.[119][120]

Bihar is one of the most sacred place for various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam # Roza Sharif of Hazrat Makhdoom Syed Shat Hasan Ali Wali Azli (R.A)at Khwaja Kalan Ghat,Patna city.[118]

Mahabodhi Temple, a Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also situated in Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Patna, is the second longest river bridge in the world.

Archaeological sites and Monuments in Bihar
Kumhrar Agam Kuan Barabar Caves Nalanda Vikramsila
Vishnupada Temple Mahabodhi Temple Sasaram Maner Sharif Patliputra Brahmayoni Hill Pretshila Hill Ramshila Hill
Rohtasgarh Fort Munger Fort Sasaram Fort Palamu Fort Maner Fort Jalalgarh Fort Rajmahal, Bihar
Golghar Patna Museum Kargil Chowk Mahatma Gandhi Setu
Pilgrimage sites in Bihar
Hindu Pilgrimage
Mahavir Mandir Hariharkshetra, Hajipur. Sitamarhi Madhubani Punausa Buxur West Champaran Munger Jamui Darbhanga Anga
Jain Pilgrimage
Rajgir Pawapuri Patliputra Arrah Vikramasila Kundalpur
Buddhist Pilgrimages
Mahabodhi Temple Bodhi Tree Bodh Gaya Gaya Vaishali Pawapuri Nalanda Rajgir Kesariya Vikramshila Areraj Patliputra
Sikh Pilgrimage
Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb Guru ka Bagh Ghai Ghat Handi Sahib Gobind Ghat Bal Lila Maini Taksali Sangat Guru Bagh Chacha Phaggu Mal Pakki Sangat Bari Sangat
Islamic Pilgrimages
Sasaram Maner Sharif Bihar Sharif Phulwari Sharif Patna
Christian Pilgrimages
Padari ki haveli

See also

  • History of India
  • Timeline of Bihar
  • Bihari languages
  • Bihari people
  • Bihari culture
  • List of people from Bihar


Further reading

  • Swami Sahajanand Saraswati Rachnawali (Selected works of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati), Prakashan Sansthan, Delhi, 2003.
  • Christopher Alan Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen, and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of British Expansion, 1770 1870, Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Anand A. Yang, Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial State in Bihar, University of California Press, 1999.
  • Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi Rachnawali, Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi.
  • Swami Sahajanand and the Peasants of Jharkhand: A View from 1941 translated and edited by Walter Hauser along with the unedited Hindi original (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
  • Sahajanand on Agricultural Labour and the Rural Poor translated and edited by Walter Hauser (Manohar Publishers, paperback, 2005).
  • Religion, Politics, and the Peasants: A Memoir of India's Freedom Movement translated and edited by Walter Hauser (Manohar Publishers, hardbound, 2003).
  • Pandit Yadunandan (Jadunandan) Sharma, 1947, Bakasht Mahamari Aur Uska Achook Ilaaz (Bakasht Epidemic and its Infalliable Remedy) in Hindi, Allahabad.
  • Jagannath Sarkar, "Many Streams" Selected Essays by Jagannath Sarkar and Reminiscing Sketches" Compiled by Gautam Sarkar Edited by Mitali Sarkar, First Published May 1910, Navakarnataka Publications Private Limited, Bangalore.
  • Indradeep Sinha, 1969, Sathi ke Kisanon ka Aitihasic Sangharsha (Historic Struggle of Sathi Peasants), in Hindi, Patna.
  • Indradeep Sinha, Real face of JP's total revolution, Communist Party of India (1974).
  • Indradeep Sinha, Some features of current agrarian situation in India, All India Kisan Sabha, (1987).
  • Indradeep Sinha, The changing agrarian scene: Problems and tasks, Peoples Publishing House (1980).
  • Indradeep Sinha, Some questions concerning Marxism and the peasantry, Communist Party of India (1982).
  • Nand Kishore Shukla, The Trial of Baikunth Sukul: A Revolutionary Patriot, Har-Anand, 1999, 403 pages, ISBN 81-241-0143-4.
  • Shramikon Ke Hitaishi Neta, Itihas Purush: Basawon Singh published by the Bihar Hindi Granth Academy (1st Edition, April 2000).
  • Ramchandra Prasad, Ashok Kumar Sinha, Sri Krishna Singh in Adhunik Bharat ke Nirmata Series, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • Walter Hauser, 1961, Peasant Organisation in India: A Case Study of the Bihar Kisan Sabha, 1929 1942, PhD Thesis, University of Chicago, (Forthcoming publication).
  • Rai, Algu, 1946, A Move for the Formation of an All-Indian Organisation for the Kisans, Azamgrah.
  • N. G. Ranga, 1949, Revolutionary Peasants, New Delhi.
  • N. G. Ranga, 1968, Fight For Freedom, New Delhi.
  • Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, 1943, Naye Bharet ke Naye Neta (New Leaders of New India), in Hindi, Allahabad.
  • Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan, 1957, Dimagi Gulami (Mental Slavery), in Hindi, Allahabad.
  • Manmath Nath Gupta, Apane samaya ka surya Dinkar, Alekha Prakasana (1981).
  • Khagendra Thakur, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar : Vyaktitva aur Krititva, Publications Division, 2008 Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  • Vijendra Narayan Singh, Bharatiya Sahitya ke Nirmata: Ramdhari Singh 'Dinkar, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2005, ISBN 81-260-2142-X.
  • Kumar Vimal, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar Rachna  Sanchayan, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, 2008, ISBN 978-81-260-2627-2.
  • Mishra Shree Govind, ''History Of Bihar 1740 1772'', Munshiram Manoharlal, 1970
  • Verma B S, ''Socio-religious Economic And Literary Condition Of Bihar (From ca. 319 A.D. to 1000 A.D.), Munshiram Manoharlal, 1962
  • Maitra A,''Magahi Culture'', Cosmo Publications, New Delhi, 1983
  • Naipaul V S, India: A Wounded Civilization, Picador, 1977
  • Trevithick Alan, The Revival Of Buddhist Pilgrimage At Bodh Gaya (1811 1949): Anagarika Dharmapala And The Mahabodhi Temple
  • Jannuzi F. Tomasson, ''Agrarian Crisis In India: The Case Of Bihar'', University of Texas Press, 1974, ISBN 0-292-76414-6, 9780292764149
  • Omalley L S S, History Of Magadh, Veena Publication, 2005, ISBN 81-89224-01-8
  • Shukla Prabhat Kumar, ''Indigo And The Raj: Peasant Protests In Bihar 1780 1917'', Pragati Publications, 1993, ISBN 81-7307-004-0
  • Ahmad Qeyamuddin, ''Patna Through The Ages: Glimpses of History, Society & Economy'', Commonwealth Publishers, 1988
  • Jain B D, Ardha Magadhi Reader, Sri Satguru Publications, Lahore, 1923
  • Crindle John W Mc, ''Ancient India As Described By Ptolemy'', Munshiram Manoharlal, 1927, ISBN 81-215-0945-9
  • Patra C, Life In Ancient India: As Depicted In The Digha Nikaya, Punthi Pustak, 1996, ISBN 81-85094-93-4
  • Hazra Kanai Lal, Buddhism In India As Described By The Chinese Pilgrims AD 399 689, Munshiram Manoharlal, 1983, ISBN 81-215-0132-6
  • Mccrindle John W, Ancient India As Described By Megasthenes And Arrian, Munshiram Manoharlal
  • Sastry Harprasad, Magadhan Literature, Sri Satguru Publications, Calcutta, 1923
  • Rai Alok, Hindi Nationalism, Orient Longman, 2000, ISBN 81-250-1979-0
  • Waddell Austine L., Report On The Excavations At Pataliputra (Patna) The Palibothra Of The Greeks, Asian Publicational Services, Calcutta, 1903
  • Das Arvind N., The State of Bihar: an economic history without footnotes, Amsterdam: VU University Press, 1992
  • Brass Paul R., The politics of India since Independence, Cambridge University Press, 1990
  • Askari S. H., Mediaeval Bihar: Sultante and Mughal Period, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 1990
  • Tayler William, Three Months at Patna during the Insurrection of 1857, Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna, 2007
  • Taylor P.J.O., "What really happened during the during the Mutiny: A day by day account of the major events of 1857 1859 in India", Oxford University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-19-564182-5
  • Pathak Prabhu Nath, ''Society and Culture in Early Bihar (C.A.D. 200 600)'', Commonwealth Publishers, 1988
  • Basham A. L., The Wonder that was India, Picador, 1954, ISBN 0-330-43909-X
  • Nambisan Vijay, Bihar in the eye of the beholder, Penguin Books, 2000, ISBN 978-0-14-029449-1
  • Pathak Mohan, Flood plains and Agricultural occupance, Deep & Deep Publication, 1991, ISBN 81-7100-289-7
  • D'Souza Rohan, Drowned and Dammed:Colonial Capitalism and Flood Control in Eastern India, Oxford University Press, 2006,

  • Ajazi house--- wikimapia--Nehru Museum New Delhi

External links


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