Bihar is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi and 3rd largest by population. Close to 85% of the population lives in villages. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India. Amongst all the states in the country, Bihar is probably the one that enjoys a unique history. It is here that world religions Buddhism and Jainism were born, even as Hinduism thrived. It is here that a prominent proponent of a fourth religion – Guru Gobind Singh of the Sikhs was Born. And it is here that the world’s first university at Nalanda was established. And if all that is not enough, it was in Bihar that Gandhiji first launched his Satyagraha movement against British rule.
Patna once called Patliputra the capital of Bihar, is among the world’s oldest capital cities with unbroken history of many centuries as imperial metropolis of the Mauryas and Guptas imperial dynasties. Near the holy city of Gaya, the Buddha attained enlightenment. The tree that had sheltered him came to be known as the Bodhi tree and the place Bodhgaya. Today Bodhgaya, an important place of pilgrimage, has a number of monasteries, some of them established by Buddhists of Japan, Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka etc.