Today, famous as an archaeological site, Vaishali also referred to as Vesali, was once a culturally thriving city in Bihar. Situated north of Patna on the banks of Gandak River, this ancient city was the capital of Licchavi Kingdom and from the very beginning has been closely connected with Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
We can have a fair idea of its significance, as historical records state that during this time, roads connected Vaishali with many prominent regions like Kapilavastu and Shravasti, and till date, these ruins have an amazing spiritual appeal about them.
It was on this soil, that Lord Mahavira was born. It is believed that Lord Buddha also visited this city not once but on several occasions for spreading the message of Buddhism. He even preached his last sermon here in Vaishali. After Buddha’s passing away, in 483 BCE, the second greatest council of the Buddhists was held here in Vaishali.
Best Time To Visit Vaishali
The months from October to March are considered as the best times to visit Vaishali. During this time, the temperature is quite suitable for exploring around. Whereas during the summer months, the temperature is significantly hotter and can go up to 45 degrees, so it is advised to not travel here particularly during the summer season. Monsoon season can be moderate depending on the yearly climatic conditions.
History of Vaishali
According to historical records and archaeological findings, the city of Vaishali was always surrounded by three walls with enormous gates and well-built watchtowers.
Occupation of People
The earliest occupation of the people recorded here is of black and red pottery which even dated back to the pre-Buddhist age. This was closely followed by the northern black polished ware which belonged to the Buddhist times.
The First Republic in the World
Since the beginning, i.e. 6th century BCE, Vesali/Vaishali is taken as one of the first examples of being a complete Republic City. This is also the place where one can find the earliest pillars of King Ashoka upon which there is a lion sitting proudly. This ancient city has also been strongly mentioned and well-praised in the travel accounts of many Chinese explorers like Faxian and Xuanzang.
Major Attractions in and Around Vaishali
1. The Ashoka Pillar
Following the battle of Kalinga, king Ashoka understood that all the bloodshed, in the name of conquering other kingdoms, was futile and resulted in nothing but pain and loss of life. Thus, he decided to give up all the violence and took the teachings of Buddhism as his salvation. To further concretize this, he decided to build a pillar on which he engraved the last sermon of Lord Buddha. And today, due to its historical significance, the Ashoka Pillar is a must-visit tourist spot to visit in Vaishali.
2. Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The Vishwa Shanti stupa was built by the Buddh Vihar society in collaboration with the Japanese government. It is a very beautiful structure and showcases the grandeur of our traditional heritage. It is an absolutely amazing place to spend your leisure time basking in the shade of the Hindu past and its glory.
3. Vishal Fort
It is believed that the ancient city of Vaishali got its name from King Vishal. Initially, it went by the name of Vishalapuri which was later on changed to Vesali or Vaishali. And the Vishal Fort here is believed to have been the parliament of the Lichchavis. Many historians and experts say that there was a time when about seven thousand representatives used to gather here for discussing political matters.
Located at a distance of 15 km from Vaishali is Hajipur. It is an amazing place to explore various interesting destinations like Nepali temple which is primarily made up of wooden engravings.
5. Buddha’s Stupa
The Buddha’s stupa is yet another magnificent structure of the past. There are basically two stupas here; Stupa 1 and Stupa 2. These were named so due to the chronology of their discovery. The highlight of these stupas is that both of them contain the ashes of Lord Buddha which were divided into 8 parts and then preserved in different stone caskets.
How to Reach Vaishali
Vaishali is an ancient city known for its association with the Hindu past. It is located at an approximate distance of 1,048, 2,118, 1,876, 639 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata respectively.
The nearest airport from Vaishali is Jaiprakash Narayan International Airport (PAT), Patna. After deboarding your flight, you will need to cover the remaining distance of 38 km via cab or some other means of transportation.
Here is a list of Indian cities from where flights are available to Vaishali
You can also plan your trip to Vaishali by train as well. The nearest railway station is Hajipur and is located at an approx distance of 2-4 km from Vaishali. One can easily board a train from most of the Indian cities to reach here.
Depending upon your location you can also plan a trip to Vaishali by road. For this, you can either take your own vehicle or maybe choose a bus as a convenient transportation option.
Frequently Asked Questions about Vaishali
Q. Where is Vaishali located?
A. Vaishali is a city located in the state of Bihar, in northeastern India.
Q. What are the main tourist attractions in Vaishali?
A. The main tourist attractions in Vaishali include the Vaishali Stupa, the Ashokan Pillar, the Lichchavi Stupa, and the relic of Lord Mahavira.