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Top to bottom - The City Skyline, Tomb of Ibrahim Baya, Mora Talab Temple, View of Hiranya Parvat from NH 20, An institutional block at K. K. University
|• Type||Municipal Corporation|
|• Body||Bihar Sharif Municipal Corporation|
|• District Magistrate||Yogendra Singh, IAS|
|• Superintendent of Police, Nalanda||Nilesh Kumar, IPS|
|• Municipal Commissioner||Anshul Agrawal, IAS|
|• Mayor||Veena Kumari|
|• Sub-Metropolitan||152.94 km2 (59.05 sq mi)|
|• Urban||23.5 km2 (9.1 sq mi)|
|• Regional planning||78.53 km2 (30.32 sq mi)|
|Elevation||55 m (180 ft)|
|• Density||15,743/km2 (40,770/sq mi)|
|• Additional official||Urdu|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
803101 803118 803216 803111 803113
|ISO 3166 code||IN-BR|
|Loksabha Constituency||Nalanda (29)|
|Vidhan Sabha Constituency||Bihar Sharif (172)|
|Website||Bihar Sharif - Nagarseva|
Bihar Sharif is the headquarters of Nalanda district and the fifth-largest sub-metropolitan area in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Its name is a combination of two words: Bihar, derived from vihara (meaning monastery), also the name of the state; and Sharif (meaning noble). The city is a hub of education and trade in southern Bihar, and the economy centers around agriculture supplemented by tourism, the education sector and household manufacturing. The ruins of the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located near the city.
Under the Pala Empire, Odantapuri, a major Buddhist monastic university was built at the site of Bihar Sharif. It eventually became the capital of Magadha, and then part of the Muslim Delhi Sultanate in the late 12th century, though local Rajputs soon re-established effective control. In the early 14th century, it was permanently captured by the Delhi Sultanate. Bihar Sharif was later ruled by other Muslim dynasties and then by the British until Indian independence in 1947. The city has important Jain, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim heritage sites and landmarks.
Bihar Sharif is one of the one hundred Indian cities selected to gain funds under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship Smart Cities Mission.[needs update] Bihar Sharif was selected in the preliminary list of 100 cities in July 2015 that were to compete for the Smart Cities project. As far as funding is concerned, the municipal corporation would continue to receive annual funding until the completion of the Smart Cities project, which was initially supposed to come to an end in the fiscal year 2019-20 but it is likely to be extended up to the fiscal year 2021–22 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Ease of Living Index 2020, Bihar Sharif has been ranked as the most livable among cities in Bihar which have population under 1 million. It was ranked 1st in Bihar and 28th among cities with a population under 1 million in India with an overall ranking of 63rd among 111 Indian cities.
Minhaj-i-Siraj's Tabaqat-i Nasiri suggests that Bakhtiyar Khalji destroyed a Buddhist monastery which the author equates in his description with a city he calls "Bihar" or "Behar" from what the soldiers learn is called a vihara. Its name is a combination of two words: Bihar, derived from vihara (meaning monastery), also the name of the state; and Sharif (meaning noble), referring to the resting place of the Sufi Saint Sheikh Makhdoom Sharfuddin Ahmed Yahya Maneri. So the former name of the city is now applied to the whole of the state.
Pre-Islamic period and Odantapuri University
The name Bihar is derived from vihar or vihara, meaning Buddhist monastery, a reference to the ancient Odantapuri University established near the city in the 7th century CE by Pala king Gopala I. The settlement does, however, predate the Buddha. It became the capital of the Magadha kingdom from the rule of the Pala Empire. Odantapuri is considered to have been the second-oldest of India's Mahaviharas, and it was located at the foot of Bari Pahari (English: Big Hill). According to Tibetan records it housed about 12,000 students and was an important centre of Buddhist learning. Acharya Sri Ganga of Vikramashila was a student there. The monks of Odantapuri are credited with propagating Buddhism in Bhutan. The Big Hill or Badi Pahadi was known as Pashravati at the time.
Around the 11th century CE, while Nalanda was struggling for survival, Odantapuri “had a rival institution functioning under the royal patronage of Palas and, being a capital town, it must have inevitably snatched away the fortunes of Nalanda”.
Delhi Sultanate era
In 1193, during the time of Ikhtiyar ad-Din Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji's conquest of Bihar, he came to conquer eastern parts of India and destroyed Nalanda University. En route to Nalanda, he allegedly damaged the Buddhist monasteries of a place now called Bakhtiyarpur. He then came to Vihar, where he completely destroyed Odantapuri University, and the Buddhist viharas before leaving for Nalanda. A few years after Khilji's departure, local Bundela Rajputs with an Yadavas dominated army regained control of the city from its Muslim rulers. Bundela Rajputs then ruled the area until the reign of Raja Biththal.
The district of Nalanda formed a part of territory under Muslim rulers of Bengal till 1320 AD when Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq separated Bihar from Bengal.
Delhi Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq (r. 1324–1351 CE) then sent Syed Ibrahim Mallick with an army to conquer the Magadha region. After a fierce battle, the outnumbered Raja army was defeated and Raja Biththal was killed. The conquest of Bihar was a major achievement for Delhi, and on this occasion the Sultan conferred upon Syed Ibrahim Mallick the title of "Madarul Mulk", after which he was called "Mallick Baya". He was then appointed governor of Bihar by the Sultan, and he ruled over the region until his assassination in 1353 CE.
After the Delhi Sultanate, the first Sur emperor, Sher Shah Suri (r. 1540–1545 CE), moved the regional capital to Patliputra (modern-day Patna), and the whole Magadha region came to be called Bihar. Before that the residence of the Muslim governors of Bihar remained at Bihar Sharif until 1541 CE. Patna became a central place and Bihar Sharif lost its importance. However, Bihar Sharif continued to be enriched with buildings by the Muslims, and its sacred tombs have been visited by pilgrims for many centuries till modern day.
In 1867, the city was officially declared a municipality.
Bihar Sharif is located 74 km (46 mi) from Patna, the capital of Bihar state (via NH 30 and 20). It is situated at the foot of Badi Pahari (a.k.a. Hiranya Parbat) and on the bank of the Panchanan (Panchane) River. The land around Bihar Sharif is very fertile, with alluvial soil deposited by several rivers. These local rivers include the Mahane, the Panchane – which divides west of Pawapuri into the Goithwa, Soyaba and smaller rivers – the Zerain, and others. To the west is the Paimar River, a tributary of the Ganges.
Agriculture is the main economic activity of Bihar Sharif, with crops including cauliflower, potato, mustard seed and other vegetables, which are sold to neighbouring states. The region is well known for extensive production of vegetables and there are research centres of vegetables located here.
- Indo-Israel centre for Excellence in Vegetables, Chandi
- Potato Research Centre, Nalanda
- Magahi Paan (Betel Leaf) Research Centre, Islampur
Tourism to nearby sites like Nalanda, Rajgir and Pawapuri also boosts the city's economy, as do footwear and garments manufactured by household industries. The locality of Sohsarai in the city hosts an extensive textile market, which is known as "Mini Surat".
In recent years the city has changed from a trade-based economy to an education hub.
Bihar Sharif is one of four cities selected in Bihar state among the 100 Indian cities to developed as smart cities under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship Smart Cities Mission. It finally figured in amongst the ambitious 100 smart cities list to receive funding in the fifth round of the smart cities project in January 2018.
As of the 2011[update] India census, Bihar Sharif had a population of 297,268, up from 231,972 in 2001 and around 130,000 in 1981. The sex ratio was 916 females per 1000 males, with a slightly higher ratio of 927 females per 1,000 males among children. The overall literacy rate was 75.30%, with male literacy at 80.80% and female literacy at 69.28%.
According to the 2011 census, 65.86% of the city's population identifies as Hindu, 33.59% identifies as Muslim, 0.34% did not answer the census question, 0.17% identifies as Christian, and fewer than fifty identified with each of the other religious groups on the survey. A 1981 report lists a 48% proportion of Muslims and notes this as unusual for the area.
In 2012, plans were announced for the construction of a local Bahá'í House of Worship in Bihar Sharif. This would be only the second House of Worship for India's nearly two million Bahá'ís (the first being the well-known Lotus Temple in Delhi), and one of the first two local Bahá'í Houses of Worship in Asia (the other being in Battambang, Cambodia). The final model of the house of worship was unveiled in April, 2020 and its foundation has been laid on 21st of February, 2021 and is expected to get completed by 2023.
- The Town Police Station (Bihar Thana) is the first child-friendly police station in the state of Bihar.
The city is connected by road to major cities like Patna, Rajgir, Nalanda, Nawada, Harnaut, Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Koderma, Kolkata, Gaya, Hazaribag, Barhi, Jehanabad, Bakhtiyarpur, Barh, Mokama, Munger, Purnea and Ramgarh. Being the district headquarters, it has a major transport hub and has regular bus service to all other major destinations in the region.
NH 33 and NH 20, a part of Asian Highway Network and AH42 passes through the city. NH 33 and NH 20 intersects each other in the city. NH 20 connects to Patna via Bakhtiyarpur and to Nawada, Barhi, Koderma, Hazaribagh and Ranchi. NH 33 connects the city to Mokama, Barbigha, Asthawan, Jahanabad and Arwal.
SH 78 connects it with Chandi, Daniyawan and Hilsa.
The city is also served by Public City Bus Service. Bihar Sharif became third city in Bihar to have this service after Patna and Gaya. Started in December 2018, it serves the city on the Rajgir More (Kargil Chowk)-Sohsarai route.
Bihar Sharif is a part of Intercity bus service of Bihar State Road Transport Corporation and Patna City bus service. So, state-owned Intercity bus services to State capital Patna is available on very short intervals. BSRTC also provides City Bus services from Bihar Sharif to Rajgir, Nawada, Barh and Jamui.
Bihar Sharif also comes under the first Intercity Electric bus service in Bihar as a part of Patna - Rajgir route started in March 2021.
Bihar Sharif Junction is on the Bakhtiyarpur-Tilaiya line, part of the national broad gauge network. The city is served by the Shramjeevi Express, a direct daily train to New Delhi. There are also numerous passenger and express connections to the state capital, Patna, and to the hub at Rajgir which connects to many destinations in the country. Recently, the Fatuha–Islampur branch line has been connected to this route by linking Daniyawan to Bihar Sharif. The extension of passenger services to link Bihar Sharif with Hilsa, Sheikhpura and Gaya began in 2013. Pawapuri Road is another important railway station located in the southern outskirts of the city.
- The nearest airport is Patna Airport, about 86 km away, with carriers operating flights to major Indian cities.
- Gaya International Airport is about 95 km away.
A number of colleges, schools and educational institutions are located in the city. Notable institutions include:
- Nalanda University, located in the nearby city of Rajgir
- Nava Nalanda Mahavihara,a deemed to be university located in Nalanda, about 10–11 km away
- Vardhman Institute of Medical Sciences, popularly known as VIMS Pawapuri, is located about 14 km away in Pawapuri.
- Nalanda College of Engineering, Chandi
- Nalanda College
- K. K. University was opened in Bihar Sharif in 2017
- Sainik School, Nalanda is located about 14 km away at Nanand, Nalanda
- Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Nalanda is located about 22 km away at Rajgir, Nalanda
Media and Entertainment
Print media such as Dainik Jagran, Hindustan, Dainik Bhaskar, Prabhat Khabar, Aj and I-Next are available as well as English-language newspapers including Times of India, The Hindu along with various types of magazines.
Keshav Ram Bhatta, a Maharashtrian Brahman that settled in Bihar Sharif published Bihar Bandhu, the first Hindi newspaper from Bihar in 1872.
Heritage and important sites
The city of Bihar Sharif also has the designation of the location of first museum in Bihar. The first Bihar Museum, established here in the late 19th century by Alexander Meyrick Broadley was not just the oldest museum in Bihar but also one of the oldest in India. Broadley was the district magistrate of Bihar Sharif in 1860s and one of the earliest surveyors and explorers of Bihar. During the course of his amateur excavations, he collected many sculptures and architectural fragments, with which he established a museum at the Collector's Bungalow at Bihar Sharif in 1871–1872. The collection recorded at least 686 artefacts. In 1891, the governor of Bengal of decided to transfer the contents of the Bihar Museum to Indian Museum in Calcutta. After the foundation of Patna Museum, a significant part of the collection was transferred there, listed in the catalogue as from Broadley Collection.
The city has many artefacts and relics of Buddhist and Jain heritage. (Mahavira, often regarded as the founder of Jainism, is said to have attained Nirvana at the nearby town of Pawapuri, where the famous Jal Mandir is situated.) Broken idols of Buddha and Mahavira can be found in the Nalanda Museum and in many temples. Nalanda College in Bihar Sharif and the locality of Garhpar have Buddhist monasteries. The ruins at Nalanda are 13 km (8.1 mi) from Bihar Sharif.
There is also a notable pillar in Bihar Sharif dating to the 5th century at the time of the Gupta empire and contains two inscriptions of Gupta rulers, Kumaragupta and Skandagupta. It is 14 ft tall and has two inscriptions inscribed upon it of two Gupta Dynasty rulers, first of Kumaragupta (413-455 CE) and second of Skandagupta (456-480 CE).
- Baba Maniram Akhara
Another notable site in the city is the Langot Fair at Baba Maniram Akhara; the Akhara of Sant Maniram was founded by Raja Biththal to train youth in fighting.
- The mausoleum of Syed Ibrahim Mallick Baya
- Badi Dargah
The shrine of the Sufi Saint Sheikh Makhdoom Sharfuddin Ahmed Yahya Maneri, is located near the ruins of Odantapuri. He is credited with converting many Hindus in the districts of Patna, Bihar Sharif, Gaya, Jehanabad, Arwal, Nawada, Jamui and Sheikhpura, and many Muslims celebrate Urs at the shrine each year in the month of Shawwal on the Hijri calendar.The inscription over its entrance mentions that the tomb was completed in 1569.
- Badi Pahari
Badi Pahadi also known as Hiranya Parvat has a rich history. It is said that Buddha spent his last monsoon in the vicinity of this hill. After his death, a monastery called the "Kapotica" or Pigeon Monastery was built thereon. Xuan Zang visited the monastery and mentioned it. Most tourists visiting Biharsharif are domestic - from other places in Bihar and adjoining states. A large park, a temple and a mausoleum is located on Bari Pahari (Hiranya Parvat).
- Bihar Sharif Museum
Housed in the building known as "Virasat Bihar", this museum opened in 1979 and housing relics and sculptures unearthed from the city and nearby areas as the area is very rich in archaeological remains. The stone sculptures housed here mostly belong to the Pala Empire period. There are medieval period sculptures, ancient pillars, Islamic inscriptions and Mughal coins.
- Vajra Vidya Phulahari Thrangu Monastery
A Buddhist monastery located on NH 20 near Hiranya Parvat.
- Mora Talab
A large tank said to be constructed by Queen Moora Devi, mother of the Mauryan Emperor Chandragupta Maurya. A Sun Temple is located here. This place is located by the NH 20 on the northern side of city.
- Nagar Nigam Park
Nagar Nigam Park is a park developed by the Municipal Corporation of Bihar Sharif on Badi Pahadi. The park features several fountains and cascades along with a children's park.
- Kundalpur, Nalanda
Shri Kundalpur Digambar Jain Teertha Kshetra is located at a distance of 15 km near the ancient Sun-temple fame village of Bargaon in Nalanda. This is revered as the birthplace of Mahavira with Jain marbles temples.Kundalpur is also the birthplace of Gautam Swami also called Gautam Gandharva , the chief disciple of Mahavira, the 24th and last tirthankar of present half cycle of time.
- Sariputta Stupa, Giriyak
The ancient stupa of Sariputta is located on Giriyak hills, around 21 km from the city. The stupa near the Ghora Katora lake of Rajgir rises to a height of 30 ft and is cylindrical in shape. It probably dates to Gupta period or even earlier.
The ruins of Nalanda Mahavihara or simply called as Nalanda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located near the city. Known as Oxford of ancient times, Nalanda is considered the first residential university of the world and a premier institute of learning in ancient India.
Pawapuri, a town located about 14 km away from the city is one of the holiest places of Jainism. The famous Jal Mandir is located here along with many other Jain temples.
The city of Rajgir, one of the most visited places in Bihar, is about 25 km from Bihar Sharif.
- Urs or Annual "Chiraga" Fair
- Annual Langot Fair held at Manibaba Akhara
In popular culture
- Aditya Kumar, actor
- Saba Karim, former Indian cricketer
- Vikas Kumar, actor
- Makhdoom Sharfuddin Ahmed Yahya Maneri, a Sufi mystic
- L. S. N. Prasad, Indian paediatrician and Padma Shri recipient
- Vijay Kumar Yadav, former Member of Parliament from Nalanda
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