Vaishali, Birthplace Of Lord Mahaveer A Historical Place


My first impressions of Vaishali were created by Acharya Chatursen’s book “Vaishali ki Nagarvadhu”. The opulence described in the book and the characters that you have heard about. But probably do not know much about making the place very inviting for any history buff. On top of it, it is also the birthplace of Lord Mahavira. Hence the birthplace of Jainism. So it was a must-visit place in Bihar for me. The place today nowhere resembles its past glory. I was happy to discover many interesting things that I had never heard about. Though people would associate the place with Buddha and Mahaveer, to me it would always remain the city of Amrapali.

A typical Hut in a Bihar Village
A Typical Hut in a Bihar Village

It is just an hour’s drive from Patna. You get a glimpse of rural life on the way. We saw many teenage girls riding their colorful bicycles. Spoke to a few of them and found them extremely confident and happy. We saw very neat and clean houses with round fodder cases standing outside each house. The time of year was such that it was like driving through yellow mustard fields. And the vast expanse of open fields.

Because of missing industry, you still see the sky and land till your eye can see the horizon. We also got to see the MLA of the region doing rounds and listening to people. Making an instant speech including making promises and sparkling in his crisp white clothes.

Original Stupa with Buddha Relics at Vaishali
Original Stupa with Buddha Relics

Vaishali Tour

We started our tour by visiting the old Buddha Relic Stupa. Which was the place where originally the 1/8th of the ashes of Buddha were kept? After the Mahaparinirvana of Buddha, his remains were distributed amongst the eight claimants. Including the Lichhavis of Vaishali, and this is the Stupa that they had built over his relics. The relics were excavated from this stupa and are now kept at the Patna Museum. The original Stupa was a small mud Stupa. Which was later expanded during the Mauryan, Shunga & Kushan periods.

The relics were found in a stone casket containing ashes, a small conch, two glass beads, a gold leaf, and a punch-marked copper coin. A new Vishwa Shanti Stupa similar to the one in Rajgir has been built here too. Because of the paucity of time, we had to skip it.

Kolhua a part of the ancient city of Vaishali

Kolhua is a part of the ancient city, which is associated with Buddha. This is where the monkeys offered honey to Buddha and became an important part of Buddha’s story. Stupa here actually commemorates the memory of that event only. Like the relic stupa, this was also a much smaller stupa. That was later enhanced by the various dynasties that ruled the region. Buddha is said to have spent many rainy seasons here.

Two important things that he did here was inducting the women into the sangha. And making the first monastery for the nuns here. Converting the famous Amrapali to a Buddhist monk and taking her into the sangha. Behind this stupa stands the Ashoka pillar with a lion capital on it.

Ashoka Pillar

Ashoka Pillar with lion capital at Vaishali
Ashoka Pillar with Lion Capital

Of all the Ashoka Pillars that I have seen, this is probably the best-preserved. Though the famous polish of the pillars can no longer be seen. There are no inscriptions on this pillar. But the lion sits very elegantly on the capital and the rest all features of a typical Ashoka pillar-like inverted lotus are there. There is a swastika-shaped monastery that has been recently unearthed, along with a few tanks. The complex is a typical Buddhist complex, with thousands of votive stupas. And small shrines spread across the complex.


Excavations are being carried out in one part of the complex and new discoveries are being made every day. Precious stones, beads, seals, terracotta figurines, etc have been excavated from this complex, including a crowned monkey. Monkey adds to the story of the place where they not only gave honey to the Buddha but also dug a huge seven-layered tank for him. Like Nalanda, we could see some carved bricks here and there peeping out of the ruins.

Vaishali – Birthplace of Lord Mahaveer

Birthplace of 24th Jain Teerthankar Lord Mahaveer
Birthplace of 24th Jain Teerthankar Lord Mahaveer

Vaishali is the birthplace of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism. Unfortunately, his birthplace is only a small space with a signboard telling you that this is the place where he was born. In the background is an unfinished structure of an intended temple. Which we were told is under dispute and has been in that state for quite some time. Jain temples are rich and beautiful everywhere. Ironically this place seems to be completely ignored. There is an Institute for Research on Jainology that has an old but beautiful library.

Raja Vishal ka Garh

Raja Vishal ka Garh is the oldest part of this heritage place Vaishali said to be from the epic period. Belonging to a king by the name of Vishal. I guess the place may have been named after him. The site is said to be his palace. I have not yet learned to make out the plan of the building by looking at its foundations, so could not make out much of the site. The board there explains the excavated site. And says that antiquities from various historical periods have been found here, most of which are kept in the museum now.

Excavated Chaturmukhlinga at Vaishali

Recently excavated Chaturmukhlinga at Vaishali
Recently excavated Chaturmukhlinga

A Chaturmukhlinga i.e. a linga with faces on four sides has been recently excavated. The faces are those of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Surya. There are inscriptions on the base of the linga that attribute the image to the Gupta period. It has been installed in the Vaishali town. A temple is being built around it. When we visited this place, there were a group of women doing Kirtana. There are other antique idols that can be seen at Bavan Pokhar temple, though they are not displayed in the practicing part of the temple.

Idols at Bavan Pokhar Temple
Idols at Bavan Pokhar Temple

The tank, which is supposed to have belonged to the palace of Amrapali, still exists. Locals told us that the peculiarity of this tank is that no weeds ever happen in it. There are weeds all around the tank but never in the tank. Unfortunately, we could not see the museum that has the antiquities from its various sites. All museums in the country are closed on Mondays and this particular one is closed on Fridays.

I loved this small town Vaishali with a glorious past. You must know the history of this town to be able to enjoy it.

Recommend you to read the following travel blog posts on Historical places in Bihar.

Bodh Gaya – Where Buddha achieved Enlightenment

Patna – Current day version of Pataliputra

Nalanda – the Ancient Seat of Learning

Rajgir – Host of Buddhist councils

Barabar Caves – First-ever caves of India

Mithila’s Madhubani artist Ganga Devi

Banka Bihar – First Impressions


  1. The photographs, particularly the top two are fabulous. These show the ancient folk traditions continue. This is what I call “minimal” or “minimalist” work, which is not merely simple or minimum… Please accept my compliments.

  2. Appreciation for your work.Unfortunately some where in your writing it is mentioned mahaveer as founder of Jainism.Perhaps you do not have gone through history books properly.Jainism was founded by Lord Rishabha First fordmaker of Jainism.He was a historical figure and many inscriptions,Epigraphs and idols concerned to lord rishabh are found in various excavations.He was mentioned in rigveda and old literature too.Neminatha,Ajitnatha also mentioned in the same way.Lord parswanatha is a historical person and lot of archaeological proofs are available.Please go through views of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (Ex president of India) about jainism.Jainism is one of the oldest religion of the world.

  3. No doubt Rishabhdev is supposed to be the first tirthankara of Jainism in the folklore.Mere traces and references do not substantiate anything. but as we know in the modern history Mahaveer contemporory of Buddha is founder of Jainism.That way even buddhism was there much before Buddha.So inthat sense Anuradha is right in saying that Mahaveer was founder of Jainism.

  4. I always knew that Bihar has traditional places and share so many different festivals and enjoy them together. Your blog is really amazing and describes well everything, Love to read your blogs.

  5. Namastey Anuradha Ji,
    Thanks for the wonderful article and pictures. My home is near Lachhuar, Sikandra. KashtriyaKundaGram, the birthplace of Bhagwan Mahavir, as per Shwetambar Jains, is situated near this place. I tried to look at the merit of evidence of 3 places disputed as the birthplace of Bhagwan Mahavir. I found Lachhuar to be the most convincing of the three places. Can you please provide your opinion if you have pondered over it? This blog has accumulated some of the evidence of all the three places


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