One of the oldest cities in Bihar, Bhagalpur is also referred to as the ‘Silk City’ of India. Literally, however, Bhagalpur translates into the ‘City of Good Luck,’ known for some major Buddhist attractions as well as a large number of religious and historic places.
The most important attraction in Bhagalpur is Vikramashila, that used to be an important centre of leaning in ancient India. This monastic university was set up by the Pala ruler, Dhrampala. If you are a history buff, wanting to learn about the Buddhist history of India, Vikramashila is your answer. The best time to visit here is during Vikramashila Mahotsav, an annual festival held every February.
Bhagalpur also has tremendous natural beauty. Mount Mandar, an 800 feet high granite hill, that finds mention in the Hindu mythology, is a must-visit. Legend goes that, Lord Vishnu killed a demon here; his footprints that are seen at various places are proof of that. Mount Mandar is surrounded by numerous rock cut sculptures depicting Brahmanical inscriptions. It is also believed that the 12th Jain Tirthankar attained Nirvana here.
Other specimen of brilliant rock cut carvings is the Colganj Rock Cut Temple. The highlight of the temple are its impressive collection of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain deities, that were excavated from Sultanganj and Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur. According to the legend, they belong to the time of the great emperor King Asoka.
A trip to Bhagalpur is incomplete without a visit to Kuppa Ghat, an ashram with beautifully laid-out gardens that showcase a variety of orchids, and decorated with sculptures, paintings and mythological quotes. The ashram hides an old passage which opens out to various places; it’s highly recommended that you take a guide for its tour. The best time to visit it is during Guru Purnima, when it draws thousands of devotees from across India.