Siddhartha, while still an ascetic, visited Rajgir while on his way to Bodhgaya and was met by Bimbisara the king of Magadha. So impressed was King Bimbisara by Siddhartha that he persuaded him to stay in his kingdom. Siddhartha promised that he would come back once he attains enlightenment and proceeded on his journey. Thus after preaching at Sarnath, the Buddha came back to Rajgir with over a thousand followers. King Bimbisara was overjoyed on seeing the Buddha and offered them the Veluvana Bamboo Grove which became the first estate of the Order and also the Buddha’s favorite residence. The Buddha converted King Bimbisara on the Gridhrakuta hill. In old age Bimbisara was imprisoned and killed by his son Ajatasatru. However Ajatasatru himself later became a follower of the Buddha. The Buddha spent many years of his life here. It is the place where Devadatta a wicked cousin of the Buddha made several attempts on his life. After the death of the Buddha, Ajatasatru brought his share of the corporal relics and enshrined them inside a stupa. A few months later when it was decided to hold the first Buddhist council in the Sattapanni cave of the Vaibhara hill, Ajatasatru built a large hall in front of the Sattapanni cave. On this occasion for the first time the Buddha’s teachings were written down under the guidance of his disciple Kashyapa.
ATTRACTIONS IN RAJGIR
Rajgir also attracts the Hindus and the Jains as this place contains a few beautiful Hindu and Jain temples. Rajgir is also known as a place for health resort with its warm water springs. These springs are said to help in the cure of skin diseases as they are believed to contain medicinal properties. The Ropeway taking you uphill to the Shanti Stupa and Monasteries at the top of Ratnagiri hills, is a further attraction of Rajgir.
The Jivakamravana was the site of one of the most important of the Buddha’s discourses, the Samannaphala Sutta. It was built by Jivak, the personal physician of King Bimbisara who later became a devoted follower of the Buddha. The ruins of Jivakamravana with large elliptical walls and subsidiary rooms have been found with the remains of four halls and several rooms at the eastern end. At present, only some low walls are still standing representing the area.
Gridhrakuta Hill (Vultures Peak)
The Buddha delivered his famous Lotus Sutra, which promises salvation for all beings at this place. He also delivered the Prajnaparamita or Perfection of Wisdom Sutra at Gridhrakuta. The Buddha spent many rainy seasons in the rock-cut caves of this hill, meditating and preaching.
The Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The Vishwa Shanti Stupa is a new white marbled and well maintained monastery with a 50 m high golden stupa built by the famous Japanese Buddhist monk Ven. Nichidatsu Fuji in 1969. Located 400 m above the sea level, at the top of Ratnagiri Hill, this colossal sandstone dome is dedicated to world peace. Around the dome are four golden images of the Buddha each representing his birth, enlightenment, preaching and death. Opposite to the stupa stands the Saddharma Buddha Vihara. An aerial ropeway has been built to take pilgrims up to this stupa. A magnificent view of the countryside can be had from this point.
Other tourist attractions are the Bimbisar's Jail, the Jarasandh's Akhara and the Ajatshatru's Fort most of which are in ruins and only traces of it are left.