Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Chief Minister||none (president's rule)|
|Ranked 3rd in India|
| Literacy rate: |
|GSDP in US $(Per Capa):||$ 1,045 (2004)|
It is bordered on the north by the Kingdom of Nepal, on the west by Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, south by Jharkhand, and the nort-east by West Bengal. Bihar lies in the very fertile Gangetic plains, and is part of the Hindi-speaking heartland of India.
Bihar has a very rich history. It was called Magadha in ancient days. Its capital Patna, known as Pataliputra during the old days, was the center of the Mauryan empire which ruled the Indian subcontinent between 325-185 BC. Emperor Ashoka was the most famous ruler of this dynasty. Bihar remained an important place of power, culture and education during the next thousand years. Nalanda and Vikramshila Universities were the world class learning centres.
Religions OriginatedBihar is also a birthplace of many religions, including Buddhism and Jainism. The Word "Bihar" has its origin in the word "Vihara" meaning Buddhist Monasteries. Buddha attained the Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya. Buddha started spreading his teaching after attaining the Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya. Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was born in Vaishali, Bihar.
With the advent of the foreign aggression and eventual forein subjugation of India, position of Bihar was also adversly affected. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar in 12th century AD. In between, Bihar saw a brief period of glory for six years during the rule of Sher Shah Suri, who was from Sasaram and built the longest road of the Indian subcontinent, the Grand Trunk Road, which starts from Calcutta and ends at Peshawar, Pakistan. During 1557-1576, Akbar, the Mughal emperor, annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire and made Bihar a part of Bengal. With the decline of Mughals, Bihar passed under the control of Nawabs of Bengal.
After the Battle of Buxar (1765), East India Company got the diwani rights (rights to administer and collect revenue, or tax administration / collection) for Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. From this point onwards Bihar remained a part the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj till 1912, when Bihar was carved out as a separate province. In 1935, certain portions of Bihar were reorganised into a separate state of Orissa. Again, in 2000, 18 administrative districs of Bihar were separated to form the state of Jharkhand.
After his return from the South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi started the freedom movement in India by his Satyagraha in the Champaran district of Bihar against the British, who were forcing the local farmers to plant indigo which was very harmful to the local soil. This movement by Mahatma Gandhi received a spontaneous support from a cross section of people, including Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who ultimately became the first President of independed India.
- 560 BC - 480 BC - Buddha
- Before 325 BC - Nanda clan in Magadha, Lichchavis in Vaishali
- 325 BC - 185 BC - Maurya Dynasty
- 250 BC - 3rd Buddhist Council
- 185 BC - 80 BC - Sunga Dynasty
- 80 - 240- Regional kings
- 240 - 600 - Gupta Dynasty
- 600 - 650 - Harsha Vardhana
- 750 - 1200 - Pala Dynasty
- 1200 - Muhammad of Ghori's army destroy the universities at Nalanda and Vikramshila
- 1200 - 1250 - Decline of Buddhism
- 1250 - 1526 - Ruled by Delhi Sultanate (Muslim Turks - Tughluqs, Sayyids, Lodis)
- 1526 - 1540 - Babur defeats last Delhi sultan, establishes Mughal empire
- 1540 - 1555 - Suri dynasty captures empire from Mughals (including Shershah Suri who built the Grand Trunk Road)
- 1526 - 1757 - Mughal dynasty resumes
- 1757 - 1857 - British East India Company rule
- 1857 - Revolt of 1857
- 1857 - 1947 - British Raj rule
- 1912 - Province of Bihar and Orissa separated from Bengal
- 1935 - Bihar and Orissa become separate provinces
- 1947 - Indian Independence; Bihar becomes a state
- 2000 - Bihar divided into two states - north part remained Bihar, South became Jharkhand
Geography & climate
Bihar is mainly a vast stretch of very fertile land. It has many rivers including Ganga, Son, Bagmati, Kosi , Budhi Gandak , Falgu , etc. Southern part of Bihar has some small hills. Nepal is to the north of Bihar. To get to the Himalayas one will have to enter Nepal and travel for around 50-100kms.
After the division of the state in 2000, when the industrial and the mineral rich part of the state was carved out as a separate state of Jharkhand, the main economic activity of the state has been agriculture. Bihar is one of the poorest states of India. Blames for this are put on many factors - a historical disfavour from the center of Indian power (be it Calcutta during the British empire or Delhi during the independent India), a deeply polarized and highly politicized society, power hungry and corrupt rulers, lack of social reform movements, etc.
Climate It is mildly cold in the winter (worst it could get is 5-10 degrees Celsius). Winter months are December and January. It is very hot in the summer (40-45 degrees). April, May and first half of June are the hot months. Then comes the monsoon in the months of June, July, August, and September. October, November, February, and March are very pleasant months.
The economy is mainly based on the agricultural activities. The vast swath of the extremely fertile land makes this very easy. Despite a lot of rivers and good soil, irrigation facilities are very poor and the agriculture is mainly dependent upon the vagaries of the nature. There have been some attempts to industrialize the state also - a refinery in Barauni, a scooter plant in Fatuha, and some agriculture based industries like sugar, vegetable oil etc. But Bihar has not seen success in its industrialization.
Government & politics
The state is headed by a Governor, who is appointed by the President of India. However, the real executive power rests with the Chief Minister and the cabinet. The political party or the coalition of political parties having majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the Government.
Transport & travel
Bihar has two airports - Patna and Gaya. Patna airport is a domestic airport connected directly to Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Ranchi. Gaya airport is a small international airport connected by Indian airlines to Kolkata and Bangkok.
Bihar is very well connected by rail lines to the rest of India. Most of the towns are interconnected and also directly connected to Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai. Patna and Gaya are the best connected towns.
Roads are not in good condition, so it is better to avoid them if possible.
For Buddhist pilgrims, best option is to go directly to Gaya, either by air or train, and then travel to Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Sarnath, etc.
Places to See
- Buddhist sites - Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir.
- Jain sites - Vaishali and Pawapuri.
- Sikh sites - Har Mandir Sahib, Patna City, the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh.
- Hindu sites - The Pind-dan at Gaya, Baidyanath Dham, Tara Mandir at Mahisi, etc.
- Muslim sites - Bihar-E-Sharif
- Historic sites - Patna, Gaya, Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Pawapuri, Champaran, Sasaram, etc.
- National parks and wildlife sanctuaries: Valmiki National Park , Kodarma Wildlife Sanctuary , Madampur Sanctuary .
- Chhath, also called Dala Chhath - is a major festival in Bihar, and is celebrated a week after Deepawali. Chhath is the worship of the Sun God. Wherever folks from Bihar have migrated, they have taken with them the tradition of Chhath, and now this festival is not unknown even in metros like Calcutta, New Delhi and Mumbai.
- Apart from Chhath, all major festivals of India are celebrated in Bihar, like Makar Sankranti, Sarasawati Puja, Holi, Ram Nawami, Rath Yatra, Teej, Rakhee, Durga Puja, Deepawali, X'mas, Id, Bakrid, and several other local as well as national festivals.
Folksongs & music
Bihar has a very old tradition of beautiful folk songs, sung during important family occasions, like marriage, birth ceremonies, festivals, etc. They are sung mainly in group settings without the help of any musical instruments.
Bihar also has a tradition of lively Holi songs, filled with fun beats.
During the 19th century, when the condition of Bihar further worsened after the British loot and misrule, a lot of Biharis had to migrate as indentured labourers to West Indian islands, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time a lot of sad plays and songs became very popular in Bhojpur area and still some dramas on that theme are played in the theaters of Patna.
Main article: Music of Bihar
Language & Literature
Bihar has many local languages, including Hindi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, and Magadhi (Magahi). Bhojpuri, Magahi, and several other local languages like Angika are sometimes collectively referred as Bihari language. Bihari, Hindi and Urdu are spoken and understood by most of the people.
Bihar has produced a number of great Hindi poets and novelists during and immediately after the independence movement. Raja Radhika Raman Singh, Shiva Pujan Sahay, Divakar Prasad Vidyarthy, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Nirala, Ram Briksha Benipuri, and many others wrote important pieces of Hindi literature, both prose as well as poetry.
Devaki Nandan Khatri , who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century on account of his novels like Chandrakanta and Chandrakanta Santati, was born in Muzaffarpur, Bihar.
Different local languages also produced some prominent poets and authors. Vidyapati, the most famous of all Bihari poets, was a great Maithili poet.
Bihar has a very well developed cinema industry for the Bhojpuri language, spoken mainly in the central and western Bihar. There is a small Maithili film industry also.
In ancient Bihar, world famous learning centres, universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila, were located. After their destruction in the 13th century, Bihar has not seen any educational centre of world repute.
Presently, like most parts of India, after 10 years of schooling, students can join 2 years of Intermediate course (or +2 courses) in Arts, Science and Commerce. This is followed by 3 years of degree courses. Some students choose to join 3 years diploma courses offered by Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs). There are hardly 5 or 6 institutions imparting professional courses.
The educational infrastructure of the state falls short of a growing population. As such, a number of students, after completing schooling, move away to New Delhi, Karnataka, and other parts of India, for perusing higher technical or non-technical studies.
Bihar has a system of district schools (called Zila schools), located at district headquarter of older districts of Bihar. There are a lot of state run Navodaya schools also. In early eighties, the state government took over control and management of most of privately run schools, and accorded them government recognition. There are many such schools throughout the state with different names. Central government also runs a number of Central schools for the wards of its employees. Delhi Public School, a chain of schools, is also opening schools in various towns of Bihar. In bigger cities and towns, some schools are run by convents or by the Jesuits.
Universities & colleges
Bihar has five universities:
- Patna University, Patna
- University of Bhagalpur, Bhagalpur
- Lalit Narayan Mithila University, Darbhanga
- Magadh University, Bodh Gaya
- Bihar University, Muzaffarpur
University of Patna, established in 1917 and the seventh oldest university on the Indian subcontinent, is the most prominent among the above five universities. It has 11 colleges, including famous colleges like Science College ,Patna Women's College, Patna College and Patna Medical College & Hospital . Patna Women's College is one of the leading women's college in Bihar, followed by Magadh Mahila College .
In Bihar, there are three engineering colleges, under the management and control of the Government of Bihar:
- Bihar College of Engineering , now National Institute of Technology , Patna
- Bhagalpur College of Engineering
- Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology
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