Bihar Tours Packages
The bottomless 'unfathomable' well, Agam Kuan, is supposed to have been built by Ashoka, and considered an important Ashokan relic. The Agam Kuan finds mention in Fa Hien's tales from his travels to this part of the world. With this historical background sits this huge unassuming well, a continuous source of water till today. For this, perhaps, locals revere the well and some think the water has miraculous powers. For quite what remains unclear.
SUFI SHRINES OF MANER
The laddoos of Maner are famous but followers of Sufism know Maner for quite another reason. This is the place where one of the most important Sufi sites, Maner Sharif, is located. Here, you can see two dargahs, the dargah of Makhdoon Yahya Maneri and that of Shah Daulat. Surrounded by greenery, these are ornamented with intricate patterns and inscriptions from the Quran. On the way to Maner, you will pass Danapur, where you can see migratory Siberian Cranes, locally called janghil.
What is the point of visiting a laidback city like Patna if you don't indulge in a bit of addabazi? There were many places in the 60s where famous writers came to converse. These have since been lost along with the city's coffee culture. Still, Bankipore Club and Patna Golf Club, patronised by the elite of the city, are closest to the addas of yore. Rajasthan Hotel on Fraser Road is one of the oldest restaurants where people now go for breakfasting on hing kachauri, aloo sabzi and imarti. It is not a fancy place but there is still a strand of the past that hangs in the air.
THE JALAN COLLECTION
It may sound strange to you if I say that a four-poster bed belonging to Napoleon III is tucked away in a place like Patna. To witness my claim, make a trip to Quila House, the place that five generations of the well known Jalan family call home, on the banks of the Ganga in the old part of Patna. The place is also called the Jalan Museum by the local people, and not without reason, as it is filled with curios and antiques collected by Dewan Bahadur Radha Krishna Jalan, who bought Quila House in 1919. Apart from Napolean's bed, you can see Tipu Sultan's ivory palanquin, and a jewellery and cutlery cabinet custom- made for King Henry II of France, complete with the king's cipher. There are no tickets for entry, and no queues to view the objets d'art. What you need instead, is a keen interest in art and history and an invitation from the family.
With about 10,000 rare books, Sinha Library was built by Sachidananda Sinha, the first president of the Constituent Assembly and a prominent figure in Bihar's history. The collection includes old copies of Manu Smriti and also newspapers such as Harijan, published by Mahatma Gandhi. The Sinha Library is now state-run and, unfortunately, not well maintained. For the lover of history and literature, however, this will prove a minor deterrent.
ACROSS THE RIVER
A six km-long bridge over the Ganga takes you into a world of wonder. Halfway through the bridge you see miles of banana plantations protectively hiding quaint little villages. Then, a little ahead mango orchards surround you on both sides of the roads till you reach Hajipur. There are small family restaurants that serve decent basic food (and beer) just after crossing the bridge. West of Hajipur is Nepali Temple, a pagoda-style wooden temple right in the middle of the plains of Bihar. In its fine wooden carvings, you can spot some rather graphic erotic etchings.
The annual Sonepur Cattle Fair, arguably the largest of its kind in Asia, is where for a month or so, animals are bought and sold in an unrivalled display of colour and festivity. On Kartik Purnima, the day of the full moon in November, lakhs of people take a ritual dip at the auspi¬cious confluence of the rivers Ganga and Gandak and visit the Harihar Nath temple closeby. Legend has it that the powerful emperor Chandragupta Maurya bought horses and elephants here, across the Ganges. The original venue of the fair was Hajipur but was shifted to its present site in the 17th century by Aurangzeb. Over the years this developed into a forum for the cattle trade, attracting buyers, it is said, from as far away as Central Asia. As the sun goes down and the lights come up on the funfest, it seems that everyone has congregated the fairground. Grizzled farmers, traditionally turbaned and dhoti-clad, sadhus, businessmen and rural women decked out in their colourful best, young people out for an evening's entertainment. The shops seem to be selling just about everything. Wander around the stalls selling bangles, beads and shawls, examine the cooking pots and agricultural implements, check out ayurvedic medi¬cines and copper bracelets and enjoy a plate of potato curry with chappatis fresh off the tawa.
STAY LOTUS NIKKO, BODH GAYA There are a number of hotels in Bodh Gaya, but one good reason to choose the Nikko is its location—it is a mere five-minute walk from the Mahabodhi Temple.
EAT SOHAN PAPDIThe taste of this sohan papdi is unlike anything the ones you get in packets. Sweet and sinfully rich, the ones from Buxar are made of very thin strands. The soft and feathery sohan papdi breaks before you can take a bite!
SHOP BHAGALPUR SILK
This is the best buy from Bhagalpur, also known as Silk City. The tussar, almost paper thin, is the traveller's favourite buy, as also the beige hand-woven chadar used in early winters. The Dahil Tola Lane and Chandi Patti are lined with silk shops.
SEE VIKRAMSHILA GANGETIC DOLPHIN SANCTUARY An endangered species, the Gangetic dolphin is the only surviving freshwater dolphin in the world. And its number dwindles every year. The Gangetic stretch between Sultanganj and Kahalgaon, home to these sharp and friendly creatures, is now the Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary.