Vaishali is a great Buddhist pilgrimage site and also the birthplace of Lord Mahavira. The Buddha visited this place thrice and spent quite a long time there. The Buddha also delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and announced his Nirvana here. After his death, the second Buddhist Council was held here.
Lord Buddha came to Vaishali around five years after his enlightenment. The king invited Buddha to end the suffering of the city’s residents. Situated on the northern banks of the River Ganges, the city is bound by River Gandak on the west and Nepal on the north.
Buddha was welcomed and as soon as he stepped into the city, a thunderstorm brewed and a heavy downpour followed. This brought relief to the drought-affected and plague-infected city. Buddha preached the Ratna Sutra here and 84,000 people embraced Buddhism.
It was in Vaishali that the first group of women got ordained into Buddhism. And it was here that the famous courtesan Amrapali lived, who later became a follower of Lord Buddha. The Buddha delivered his last sermon in Vaishali.
The place is also famous as the land of Ambapali, the great Indian dancer as per the folktales. Ambapali was a beautiful and talented courtesan, who later took sanyas to follow the path of the Buddha.
Mahavira, the last Tirthankar of Jainism, was born in Kundupur near Vaishali. The father of Mahavira was King Siddartha and his mother Trishala was the sister of King Chetaka of Vaishali. As the wealth of his father’s kingdom had increased during the pregnancy of the queen, he named his son Vardhaman. He showed great courage at a very young age so got the name Mahavira. After the death of his parents at the age of 30, he renounced the world after fasting for two days under an Ashoka tree in Vaishali.
Places to see in Vaishali
This is one of the eight original stupas built over the sacred ashes of Buddha. According to Buddhist scriptures, after attaining Mahaparinirvana, the mortal remains of Buddha’s body after cremation were distributed among eight claimants, including the Lichhavis of Vaishali.
The Licchavis built a stupa at this place over their share of the Buddha’s relic. Now only the base of the stupa remains, however, the government has done a good job of erecting a shed over it to keep it from further damage and lay a beautiful lawn around it.
Kutagarshala Vihar and Ashoka Pillar
10 km away from Vaishali, is Kolhua, where stands the original pillar constructed by Mauryan emperor Ashoka. The monolithic, polished sandstone Ashokan pillar has a decorative bell-shaped capital and a life-size figure of a lion facing north. About 3 km from the relic stupa, is Kutagarashala Vihara, a monastery where Buddha stayed most frequently when he visited.
Best Time to Visit
October to March is the best time to visit Vaishali.
How to reach Vaishali
Airport: The nearest airport is in Patna 38 km away.
Railway Station: The nearest railway station is Hajipur, which is only 2.5 km away.
Road: A convenient road network covers Vaishali connecting it to a number of important cities in Bihar, such as Patna (55 km), Muzaffarpur (37 km)
Lumbini, Bodhgaya, Sarnath, and Kushinagar are the important places that are related directly to the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. In addition to these, there are various other important sites too where he had traveled during His lifetime. These are Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Keysariya, Kapilvastu, Sravasti, and many more.