Site to See
This is the site of the monastery Venuvana Vihar built by the powerful Magadhan Emperor Bimbisar, for Lord Buddha to reside. This was his first offering to Lord Buddha.
Built by Ajatashatru, the king of Magadha and Bimbisar’s son, the fort is a major attraction of Rajgir. The 6.5 sq m Ajatashatru's Stupa is also believed to have been built by him.
At the foot of the Vaibhava Hill, a staircase leads up to the various temples. Separate bathing places have been organised for men and women and the water comes through spouts from Saptdhara, the seven streams, believed to find their source behind the "Saptaparni Caves", up in the hills. The hottest of the springs is the Brahmakund with a temperature of 450 C.
The spot marks the site where King Bimbisara was imprisoned by his impatient son and heir, Ajatashatru. The captive king chose this site for his incarceration. For, from this spot, he could see Lord Buddha climbing up to his mountain retreat atop the Griddhakuta Hill. There is a clear view of the Japanese Pagoda. The stupa of peace was built on the top of the hill.
Two rather strange cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers is believed to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; this 'doorway' is supposed to lead to king Bimbisar treasury. Inscriptions in the Sankhalipi or shell script, etched into the wall and so far undeciphered, are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact. The second chamber bears a few traces of seated and standing guards etched into the outer wall.
Amaravana or Jivaka's Mango Garden
One of the famous attractions of Rajgir, Amaravana is the site of Jivaka’s dispensary where the Lord Buddha was treated after being wounded by his wicked cousin Devdatta. Jivaka was the royal physician during the reign of Ajatashatru and Bimbisar.
The Cyclopean Wall
Once 40 km long, it encircled ancient Rajgir. Built of massive undressed stone carefully fitted together, the wall is one of the few important pre-Mauryan stone structures ever to have been found. Traces of the wall still subsist, particularly at the exit of Rajgir to Gaya.
Griddhakuta or Vulture's Peak
This was the place where the Lord Buddha set in motion his second wheel of law and, for three months every year during the rainy season, preached many inspiring sermons to his disciples. The Buddha Sangha of Japan has constructed a massive modern stupa, the Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda), on the top of the hill in commemoration. A bridle path leads up to the hill but it is much more fun to take the Aerial Chairlift which operates every day except Thursdays. A one way ride takes 7.5 minutes and the view is splendid over the hills of Rajgir.
On hillcrests around Rajgir, far in the distances one can see about 26 Jain temples. They are difficult to approach for the untrained, but make exciting trekking for those in form.
Above the hot springs on the Vaibhava Hill, is a rectangular stone sculpted by the forces of nature, which appears to have been used as a watchtower. Since it later became the resort of pious hermits, it is also called Pippala Cave and popularly known as "Jarasandh Ki Baithak" after the name of the king Jarasandh, a contemporary of Lord Krishna described in the epic Mahabharata.
Other places of interest
Other Archaeological sites including the Karnada Tank where Lord Buddha used to bathe, the Maniyar Math that dates from the 1st century AD, the Maraka Kukshi where the still unborn Ajatashatru was cursed as a patricide, the Rannbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh fought one of the Mahabharat battles. The Chariot Route and shell inscriptions are worth a visit for the strangeness of the phenomenon, two parallel furrows cut deep into the rock for about 50 feet giving credence to the local belief that they were "burnt" into the rock by the speed and power of Lord Krishna's chariot when he entered the city of Rajgir during the epic Mahabharata times. Several shell inscriptions, the un-deciphered characters current in central and eastern India from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD, are engraved in the rock around the chariot marks.