Vaishali District is in the state of Bihar. And once it was the capital city of the Vajjian Confederacy, the first republics of India as per records. The name of the city is also mentioned in the Mahabharata as well as in Buddhist and Jain epics. The name ‘Vaishali’ was derived from King Vishal of the Mahabharata age.
Story of king Vishal
King Vishal of vidisha kingdom was blessed with an extra ordinary pretty princess named Vaishali. The king announced the swayamvar of the bride and many princes of different kingdom attained the function.
One prince named Aveekshith or the one who is free from malefic planet in his birth chat tried to take way the princes by force. But those other princes who attained the functions overpowered Aveekshith and imprisoned him. The function started but the bride insisted to marry only Aveekshith. Meanwhile the king kardama the father of the imprisoned prince Aveekshith attacked vidisha and freed Aveekshith.
The humiliated prince Aveekshith decided not to marry Vaishali. The disappointed princes announced that she will marry Aveekshith and non-else. She moved to a forest and performed Tapasya. God impressed with her devotion and blessed her with a boon of getting a famous son who would rule the seven islands (sapta Dwipa).
While Vaishali was thinking about her vow (her announcement to marry Aveekshith), a demon called Dhrutakesha tried to kidnap Vaishali. Prince
Aveekshith who was passing on the same way fought with the demon and saved the princes. On mutual consent they married in Gandarva rituals. They were blessed with a son named marut who indeed became the supreme sovereign of the sapta dwipas.
Vaishali is also known as the land of the Buddha and the birthplace of Mahavir Jain (the founder of Jainism in India). The city is recognized as the place where Gautama Buddha gave his last preaching before his demise in 483 BC. Later, King Kalasoka convened a second council for making it as a hub for both Jain and Buddhist religions.
Vaishali is surrounded by the river Ganga in the south and the river Gandaki in the west. Muzaffarpur lies to its north and Samastipur in the east. Patna, the capital of Bihar, is linked with the famous Mahatma Gandhi Setu, to this city.
Vaishali is renowned as a Buddhist pilgrimage spot. The ancient monuments and architectural work reveals the cultural importance of this city. The excavation work in this city has provided evidence of the Buddha’s life, when he visited this place several times to preach his doctrines.
After leaving Kapilavastu for renunciation, Siddhartha (Goutam Buddha) came to Vaishali first and had his spiritual training from Ramaputra Udraka and Alara Kalama. After the Enlightenment the Buddha frequently visited Vaishali. He organized his Bhikshu Sangha on the pattern of Vaishalian democracy. It was here that he established the Bhikshuni Sangha, initiating his maternal aunt Maha Prajavati Gautami into the order. His last Varshavasa (rainy season resort) was here and he announced his approaching Mahaparinirvana (the final departure from the world) just three months in advance. Before leaving for Kusinagara, where he laid his mortal coil, he left his alms-bowl (Bhiksha-Patra) here with the people of Vaishali.
Tourists, including historians and archaeologists, from all over the world visit Vaishali to see its heritage. Apart from them, many pilgrims come in huge numbers to see the last remains of the Buddha.
Vaishali is accessible through bus, train and flight. Vaishali is well connected to cities like Patna, Muzaffarpur and Hazipur by road. The nearest airport here is Patna, which is 70 km away from Vaishali.
There are various popular places in Vaishali, like Relic Stupa, Bawan Pokhar Temple, Vishwa Shanti Stupa, Ramkund tank, Raja Vishal ka Garh, Shanti Stupa, Choumukhi Mahadeva, Vaishali museum, kundalpur, kutagarasala vihara, Abhiskek Pushkarn (coronation tank) etc.
This is one of the eight original relic stupas built over the earthly remains of Buddha. According to Buddhist traditions, after attaining Mahaparinirvana his body was cremated by the Mallas of Kushinagar with a royal ceremony and the mortal remains were distributed among the eight claimants including the Lichhavis of Vaishali.
Seven others were Ajatshatru the king of Magadha, Sakyaas of Kapilvastu, Bulis of Alakappa, Koliyas of Ramagram, A Brahmin of vethoweep and mallas of Pava and Kushinagara.
This was originally a small mud stupa measuring 8.07 meters in diameter raised in 5th century B.C. Later during Maurya, Sunfa and Kushan periods it was encased with bricks and enlarged in four phases which increased the diameter to 12.00 meters.
Director of K.P. Jayaswal Research Institute Bijoy Kumar Chaudhary said the excavations carried out by the institute had revealed that the relic stupa was enlarged thrice between the 4th century BC and the 1st century AD, during the reigns of Mauryan, Shung and Kushan dynasties.
The most remarkable discovery is the Relic casket of stone partly filled with ashy earth besides a small conch, two glass beads, a fragmentary piece of gold leaf a copper punch marked coin .The relic are now placed in Patna museum near Patna Junction.
Relic casket of Buddha displayed at Patna museum
“Buddhists treat the stupa with utmost reverence and devotion. Every year, thousands of tourists from Korea, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Taiwan among others, visit the site, especially during the peak season between August and March.