Bihar (/bɪˈhɑːr/; Hindi pronunciation: [bɪˈɦaːr] (listen)) is a state in eastern India. It is the third-largest state by population and twelfth-largest by territory, with an area of 94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi). It is contiguous with Uttar Pradesh to its west, Nepal to the north, the northern part of West Bengal to the east, and with Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is split by the river Ganges, which flows from west to east.[11] Three main cultural regions converge in the state: Magadh, Mithila, and Bhojpur.[12] Bihar is also the world's third-most populous subnational entity.

Clockwise from top right: Ariel view of the capital Patna and a flooded Ganga, near Mishri Ghat, Patna, Ruins of ancient Nalanda University, Mata Mundeshwari Temple in Kaimur, Madhubani painting from Mithila region, Mahabodhi Temple, Brahma Kund hot springs in Rajgir
Anthem: Mere Bharat Ke Kanth Haar
(The Garland of My India)
Location of Bihar in India
Coordinates (Patna): 25.4°N 85.1°E / 25.4; 85.1
RegionsAnga, Bhojpur, Magadh and Mithila (including Kosi—Seemanchal)
Formation22 March 1912
Statehood26 January 1950
Largest cityPatna
  BodyGovernment of Bihar
  GovernorPhagu Chauhan[1]
  Chief MinisterNitish Kumar
  Deputy Chief Minister
  Parliamentary constituenciesRajya Sabha (16 seats)
Lok Sabha (40 seats)
  Total94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi)
Area rank12th
  Density1,102/km2 (2,850/sq mi)
  Major Ethnolinguistic Groups
Bhojpuris Maithils Magahis
GDP (2019–20)
  Total6.12 lakh crore (US$86 billion)
  Per capita46,664 (US$650)
  Additional officialUrdu[7]
Time zoneUTC+05:30 (IST)
ISO 3166 codeIN-BR
Vehicle registrationBR
HDI (2018) 0.576[8] (medium) · 36th
Literacy (2011)63.82%[9]
Sex ratio (2011)918 /1000 [10]
WebsiteOfficial Website
Symbols of Bihar
EmblemEmblem of Bihar
SongMere Bharat Ke Kanth Haar (The Garland of My India)
MammalGaur (Mithun)
BirdHouse Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
FlowerKachnar (Phanera variegata)
FruitMango (Mangifera indica)
TreePeepal tree (Ficus religiosa)

On 15 November 2000, southern Bihar was ceded to form the new state of Jharkhand.[13] Only 11.3% of the population of Bihar lives in urban areas, which is the lowest in India after Himachal Pradesh.[14] Additionally, almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, giving Bihar the highest proportion of young people of any Indian state.[15] The official languages are Hindi and Urdu, although other languages are common, including Maithili, Magahi, Bhojpuri and other Bihari languages.

In ancient and classical India, the area that is now Bihar was considered a centre of power, learning, and culture.[16] From Magadha arose India's first empire, the Maurya empire, as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions: Buddhism.[17] Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule.[18] Another region of Bihar is Mithila which was an early centre of learning and the centre of the Videha kingdom.[19][20]

Since the late 1970s, Bihar has lagged far behind other Indian states in terms of social and economic development.[21] Many economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the policies of the central government, such as the freight equalisation policy,[22][23] its apathy towards Bihar,[24] lack of Bihari sub-nationalism,[25] and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company.[23] The state government has, however, made significant strides in developing the state.[26] Improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure,[27] better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.[28]


The name Bihar is derived from the Sanskrit and Pali word vihāra (Devanagari: विहार), meaning "abode". The region roughly encompassing the present state had many Buddhist vihāras, the abodes of Buddhist monks in the ancient and medieval periods. Medieval writer Minhaj al-Siraj Juzjani records in the Tabaqat-i Nasiri that in 1198 Bakhtiyar Khalji committed a massacre in a town identified with the word, later known as Bihar Sharif, about 70 km (43 mi) away from Bodh Gaya.[29][30]


Copy of the seal excavated from Kundpur, Vaishali. The Brahmi letters on the seal state: "Kundpur was in Vaishali. Prince Vardhaman (Mahavira) used this seal after the Judgement."
Magadha, Anga and Vajjian Confederacy of Mithila, c.600 BCE.

Ancient period

Chirand, on the northern bank of the Ganga River, in Saran district, has an archaeological record from the Neolithic age (c.2500–1345 BCE).[31][32] Regions of Bihar – such as Magadha, Mithila and Anga – are mentioned in religious texts and epics of ancient India.

Mithila gained prominence after the establishment of the Videha Kingdom.[33][34] During the late Vedic period (c. 1100–500 BCE), Videha became one of the major political and cultural centers of South Asia, along with Kuru and Pañcāla. The kings of the Videha Kingdom were called Janakas.[35] Sita, a daughter of one of the Janaks of Mithila is mentioned as the consort of Lord Rama, in the Hindu epic Ramayana, written by Valmiki.[33][36][page needed] The Videha Kingdom later became incorporated into the Vajji confederacy which had its capital in the city of Vaishali, which is also in Mithila.[37] Vajji had a republican form of government where the king was elected from the rajas. Based on the information found in texts pertaining to Jainism and Buddhism, Vajji was established as a republic by the 6th century BCE, before the birth of Gautama Buddha in 563 BCE, making it the first known republic in India.

The Haryanka dynasty, founded in 684 BCE, ruled Magadha from the city of Rajgriha (modern Rajgir). The two well-known kings from this dynasty were Bimbisara and his son Ajatashatru, who imprisoned his father to ascend the throne. Ajatashatru founded the city of Pataliputra which later became the capital of Magadha. He declared war and conquered the Vajji. The Haryanka dynasty was followed by the Shishunaga dynasty. Later, the Nanda Dynasty ruled a vast tract stretching from Bengal to Punjab.

The Nanda dynasty was replaced by the Maurya Empire, India's first empire. The Maurya Empire and the religion of Buddhism arose in the region that now makes up modern Bihar. The Mauryan Empire, which originated from Magadha in 325 BCE, was founded by Chandragupta Maurya, who was born in Magadha. It had its capital at Pataliputra (modern Patna). Mauryan emperor Ashoka, who was born in Pataliputra (Patna), is often considered to be among the most accomplished rulers in world history.[38][39]

The Gupta Empire, which originated in Magadha in 240 CE, is referred as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, commerce, religion, and Indian philosophy.[40] Bihar and Bengal was invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century.[41][42]

Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Mauryan dynasty

Medieval period

Buddhism in Magadha went into decline due to the invasion of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, during which many of the viharas were destroyed along with the universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila. Some historians believe that thousands of Buddhist monks were massacred during the 12th century.[43][44][45][46] D. N. Jha suggests, instead, that these incidents were the result of Buddhist–Brahmin skirmishes in a fight for supremacy.[47] After the fall of the Pala Empire, the Chero dynasty ruled some parts of Bihar from the 12th century until Mughal rule in the 16th century.[48] In 1540, the great Pathan chieftain, Sher Shah Suri, took northern India from the Mughals and declared Delhi his capital.

From the 11th century to the 20th century, Mithila was ruled by various indigenous dynasties. The first of these were the Karnatas, followed by the Oiniwar dynasty and Raj Darbhanga.[49] It was during this period that the capital of Mithila was shifted to Darbhanga.[50][51]

The tenth and the last guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh, was born in Patna in 1666. With political instability in the Mughal Empire following Aurangzeb's death in 1707, Murshid Quli Khan declared Bengal's independence and named himself Nawab of Bengal.

(Sitting L to R): Rajendra Prasad and Anugrah Narayan Sinha during Mahatma Gandhi's 1917 Champaran Satyagraha

Colonial era

After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the British East India Company obtained the diwani rights (rights to administer and collect tax revenue) for Bihar, Bengal and Odisha. The rich resources of fertile land, water and skilled labour had attracted the foreign imperialists, particularly the Dutch and British, in the 18th century. A number of agriculture-based industries had been started in Bihar by foreign entrepreneurs.[52] Bihar remained a part of the Bengal Presidency of British India until 1912, when Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province.

Pre- and post-Independence

Farmers in Champaran had revolted against indigo cultivation in 1914 (at Pipra) and 1916 (Turkaulia). In April 1917, Mahatma Gandhi visited Champaran, where Raj Kumar Shukla had drawn his attention to the exploitation of the peasants by European indigo planters. The Champaran Satyagraha that followed received support from many Bihari nationalists, such as Rajendra Prasad and Anugrah Narayan Sinha.[53][54]

In the northern and central regions of Bihar, the Kisan Sabha (peasant movement) was an important consequence of the independence movement. It began in 1929 under the leadership of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati who formed the Bihar Provincial Kisan Sabha (BPKS), to mobilise peasant grievances against the zamindari attacks on their occupancy rights. The movement intensified and spread from Bihar across the rest of India, culminating in the formation of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) at the Lucknow session of the Indian National Congress in April 1936, where Saraswati was elected as its first president.[55]

Following independence, Bihari migrant workers have faced violence and prejudice in many parts of India, such as Maharashtra, Punjab and Assam.[56][57]

Geography and climate

Forrest in Valmikinagar, Bihar
Flooded farmlands in during 2008 Bihar flood.
Mountain of Ashrams, Bodh Gaya
Climate of Bihar
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: [58]

Bihar covers a total area of 94,163 km2 (36,357 sq mi), with an average elevation above sea level of 173 feet (53 m). It is land locked by Nepal in the north, Jharkhand in the south West Bengal in the east and Uttar Pradesh to the west.[59] It has three parts on basis of physical and structural conditions- Southern Plateau, Shivalik Region and Bihar's Gangetic Plain.[60] Furthermore, the vast stretch of fertile Bihar Plain is divided by the Ganges River into two unequal part - the North Bihar and the South Bihar.[61] The Ganges flows west–east and, along with its tributaries, regularly floods parts of the Bihar plain. The main northern tributaries are the Gandak and Koshi, which originate in the Nepalese Himalayas, and the Bagmati, which originates in the Kathmandu Valley. Other tributaries are the Son, Budhi Gandak, Chandan, Orhani and Phalgu. Bihar have some small hills, such as the Rajgir hills in center, Kaimur Range in south-west and Shivalik Range in North. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 percent of its geographical area.[62] The sub-Himalayan foothills of Shivalik ranges , primary Someshwar and Dun mountain, in West Champaran district are clad in a belt of moist deciduous forest. As well as trees, this consists of scrub, grass and reeds.

Bihar lies completely in the Subtropical region of the Temperate Zone, and its climatic type is humid subtropical. Its temperature is subtropical in general, with hot summers and cold winters.Bihar has an average daily high temperature of only 26 degrees centigrade. With a yearly average of 26 degrees the climate is very warm, but has only a very few tropical and humid months. Several months of the year it is warm to hot at temperatures continuously above 25 degrees centigrade, sometimes up to 29 degrees. Dued to the lesser rain the best time for traveling is from October to April. The most rain days occur from from May to September.[63]

Flora and fauna

Bengal Tiger is main attraction at Valmiki Tiger Reserve
Bauhinia acuminata, locally known as Kachnaar

Bihar has reserved Forest area of 6,845 km2 (2,643 sq mi), which is 7.27% of its geographical area.[64] The sub-Himalayan foothill of Someshwar and the Dun ranges in the Champaran district have belts of moist deciduous forests, mixed with shrubs, grass and reeds. High rainfall (above 1,600 mm [63 in]) promotes forests of Sal (Shorea robusta) in these areas. Other important trees are Sal Cedrela Toona, Khair, and Semal. Deciduous forests also occur in the Saharsa and Purnia districts,[65] with common trees including Shorea robusta (sal), Diospyros melanoxylon (kendu), Boswellia serrata (salai), Terminalia tomentose (asan), Terminalia bellerica (bahera), Terminalia arjuna (arjun), Pterocarpus marsupium (paisar), and Madhuca indica (mahua).

Bihar has reserved Forest area of 6,845 km2 (2,643 sq mi), which is 7.27% of its geographical area.[64] The sub-Himalayan foothill of Someshwar and the Dun ranges in the Champaran district have belts of moist deciduous forests, mixed with shrubs, grass and reeds. High rainfall (above 1,600 mm [63 in]) promotes forests of Sal (Shorea robusta) in these areas. Other important trees are Sal Cedrela Toona, Khair, and Semal. Deciduous forests also occur in the Saharsa and Purnia districts,[66] with common trees including Shorea robusta (sal), Diospyros melanoxylon (kendu), Boswellia serrata (salai), Terminalia tomentose (asan), Terminalia bellerica (bahera), Terminalia arjuna (arjun), Pterocarpus marsupium (paisar), and Madhuca indica (mahua).

Valmiki National Park covers about 800 km2 (309 sq mi) of forest and is the 18th Tiger Reserve of India, ranked fourth in terms of density of tiger population.[67] It has a diverse landscape and biodiversity in addition to sheltering the protected carnivores. Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary in Bhagalpur region is a reserve for the endangered South Asian river dolphin.[64] Other species in Bihar include leopard, bear, hyena, bison, chital and barking deer. Ghariyal (including muggers) and Gangetic turtles can be found in the river systems. Karkatgarh Waterfall on Karmanasa River is a natural habitat of crocodiles. In 2016, the government of Bihar has accepted the proposal of the forest authorities to turn the place into a Crocodile Conservation Reserve (CCR).[68] Other notable wildlife sanctuaries include Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary and Gautam Buddha Wildlife Sanctuary. Many varieties of local and migratory bird species can be seen in natural wetlands of Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary, Baraila lake, Kusheshwar Nath Lake, Udaypur lake.[64]


Population growth 
Source:Census of India[69]
Religion in Bihar
Religion Percent
Languages of Bihar (2011)[70]
Bihari Languages Percent

At the 2011 Census, Bihar was the third most populous state of India with total population of 104,099,452, nearly 89% of it rural. It was also India's most densely populated state, with 1,106 persons per square kilometre. The sex ratio was 918 females per 1000 males.[4] Almost 58% of Bihar's population was below 25 years age, which is the highest in India. At 11.3%, Bihar has the second-lowest urbanisation rate in India after Himachal Pradesh.[71] As per 2011 Census, the Hinduism is practiced by 82.7% of the population and Islam was recorded as region of 16.9% to total population. Christianity (0.12%), Budhism (0.02%) and Sikhism (0.02%) is minority in religion in Bihar.

Most of Bihar's population belongs to Indo-Aryan-speaking ethnic groups. It also attracted Punjabi Hindu refugees during the Partition of British India in 1947.[72] Bihar has a total literacy rate of 63.82% (73.39% for males and 53.33% for females), recording a growth of 20% in female literacy over the preceding decade.[9] According to the 2011 census, 82.7% of Bihar's population practised Hinduism, while 16.9% followed Islam.[73][74]

Hindi is the official language of the state and spoken by 25.54% of total population.[6] At 8.42%, Urdu is the second official language in 15 districts of the state.[7] However, the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages, most of which as classified as dialects of Hindi during the census. The major ones are Bhojpuri (24.86%), Maithili (12.55%)and Magahi (10.87%), but smaller ones such as Angika and Bajjika also are spoken by large numbers.[75][76] Maithili is a recognised regional language of India under the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.[77] Proponents have called for Bhojpuri and Magahi to receive the same status.[78] However speaker numbers for these languages are limited because the more educated and urban prefer to speak in Hindi (in formal contexts) and so return this answer on the census, and in rural and uneducated areas they simply return their language as "Hindi" on the census.

Government and administration

The constitutional head of the government of Bihar is the governor, who is appointed by the President of India. Executive power rests with the chief minister and their cabinet. The political party or coalition of political parties having a majority in the Legislative Assembly forms the government.

The head of the bureaucracy of the state is the chief secretary, under whom a hierarchy of officials is drawn from the Indian Administrative Service, Indian Police Service, Indian Forest Service, and different wings of the state civil services. The judiciary is headed by the Chief Justice. Bihar has a High Court which has been functioning since 1916. All the branches of the government are located in the state capital, Patna.

The state is administratively divided into 9 divisions and 38 districts. For the administration of urban areas, Bihar has 12 municipal corporations, 49 nagar parishads(city councils), and 80 nagar panchayats (town councils).[79][80][81][82][83]


By 2004, The Economist magazine said that "Bihar [had] become a byword for the worst of India, of widespread and inescapable poverty, of corrupt politicians indistinguishable from mafia-dons they patronise, caste-ridden social order that has retained the worst feudal cruelties".[84] In 2005, the World Bank believed that issues faced by the state were "enormous" because of "persistent poverty, complex social stratification, unsatisfactory infrastructure and weak governance".[85] As of 2014, there are two main political formations: the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which comprises Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP, Indian People's Party), Lok Janashakti Party (LJP) and Janata Dal (United) (JDU); and a second alliance between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD, National People's Party), Hindustani Awam Morcha, Rashtriya Lok Samta Party and Indian National Congress (INC). There are many other political formations. The Communist Party of India had a strong presence in Bihar at one time, which has since weakened.[86] The Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI(M) and CPM and All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) have a minor presence, along with the other extreme leftist parties.[87]

Nitish Kumar has been chief minister of Bihar for 13 years between 2005 and 2020. In contrast to prior governments, which emphasised divisions of caste and religion, his political platform was based on economic development, reduction of crime and corruption, and greater social equality. Since 2010, the government confiscated the properties of corrupt officials and redeployed them as schools buildings.[88] They also introduced Bihar Special Court Act to curb crime.[89] It also legislated a two-hour lunch break on Fridays, to enable Muslim employees to pray and thereby reduce absenteeism.[90] The government has prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state since March 2016,[91] which has been linked to a drop in tourism[92] and a rise in substance abuse.[93]

Public health

Bihar generally ranks weakest in health outcomes in comparison to other Indian states.[94][95] While the National Health Mission, the Clinical Establishments Act of 2010, and the formation of the Empowered Action Group (EAG)[96] provide federal funds to expand and improve healthcare services, Bihar's ability to fully utilise this funding is lacking.[94][95]

Research indicates that Bihar relies on privatised hospitals to provide healthcare to the masses, with the second-highest ratio among Indian states for private to public spending and high levels of corruption.[94] These factors are associated with slower healthcare delivery and steep healthcare costs.[97][98][99][100] Corruption is enabled as Bihar lacks continuity and transparency of health reporting as required by the Clinical Establishments Act of 2010. In turn, this prevents the government from making evidence-based conclusions about policy changes and hospital effectiveness, resulting in patterns of ill-informed spending and inconsistent hiring.

When comparing Bihar to Kerala, the number of healthcare professionals (including registered nurses, auxiliary nurses, physicians and health supervisors) at each hospital are significantly lower, and remain constant over time while they steadily increase in number in Kerala.[101] According to Ministry of Health statistics, the greatest shortfalls are for physicians and specialists at 75%.[94] Bihar has only 50% of the sub-health centres, 60% of the primary health centres, and 9% of the community health centres required by the national supply-to-population standards. The number of public hospital beds in Bihar decreased between 2008 and 2015.[101] Given the high population density of the state, Bihar is significantly behind in the number of healthcare professionals that should be employed.[102][101] Despite these shortcomings, Bihar has shown gradual signs of improvement for female health workers,[94] death rate, and infant, neo-natal, child and maternal morality rates.[94]


Gross State Domestic Product
YearMillions of rupees[103]
2,042,890 [citation needed]
3,694,690 [citation needed]
Langra mango from a farm in Shivnarayanpur, Bhagalpur, Bihar
Bihar accounts for 71% of India's annual litchi production.[105]

Bihar's gross state domestic product (GSDP) for fiscal year (FY) 2013–14 was around 3,683.37 billion. By sectors, its composition is 22% agriculture, 5% industry and 73% services.[citation needed] Bihar has the fastest-growing state economy in terms of GSDP, with a growth rate of 17.06% in FY 2014–15.[106] The economy of Bihar was projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% during 2012–2017 (the 12th Five-Year Plan). Bihar has experienced strong growth in per capita net state domestic product (NSDP). At current prices, per capita NSDP of the state grew at a CAGR of 12.91% from 2004 to 2005 to 2014–15.[107] Bihar's per capita income went up by 40.6% in FY 2014–15.[108] The state's debt was estimated at 77% of GDP by 2007.[109]


Among the states of India, Bihar is the fourth-largest producer of vegetables and the eighth-largest producer of fruits. About 80% of the state's population is employed in agriculture, which is above the national average.[107] The main agricultural products are litchi, guava, mango, pineapple, brinjal, lady's finger, cauliflower, cabbage, rice, wheat, sugarcane, and sunflower. Though good soil and favourable climatic conditions favour agriculture, this can be hampered by floods and soil erosion.[110] The southern parts of the state endure annual droughts, which affect crops such as paddy.[111]


Hajipur, Dalmianagar and Barauni are the major industrial cities in Bihar[112] The capital city, Patna, is one of the better-off cities in India when measured by per capita income.[relevant?][113]^

The Finance Ministry has sought to create investment opportunities for big industrial houses like Reliance Industries. Further developments have taken place in the growth of small industries, improvements in IT infrastructure, a software park in Patna, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur,[114] and the completion of the expressway from the Purvanchal border through Bihar to Jharkhand. In August 2008, a Patna-registered company called the Security and Intelligence Services[115] took over the Australian guard and mobile patrol services business of American conglomerate, United Technologies Corporation (UTC). SIS is registered and taxed in Bihar.[116][relevant?]

Prior to prohibition, Bihar emerged as a brewery hub with numerous production units.[117] In August 2018, United Breweries Limited announced it would begin production of non-alcoholic beer at its previously defunct brewery in Bihar.[118][119]

Income distribution

In terms of income, the districts of Patna, Munger, and Begusarai placed highest among the 38 districts in the state, recording the highest per capita gross district domestic product of 31,441, 10,087 and 9,312, respectively, in FY 2004–05.[113]



Left  : Mithila Painting, Right : Patna Qualam
Tikuli Painting and Manjusha Painting are two other form of Painting in Bihar
Kathak classical dance form, from Bhojpur region

There are several traditional styles of painting practised in Bihar. One is Mithila painting, a style used in the Mithila region of Bihar. Traditionally, this form was practised mainly by women, passed down generation to generation. Painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, births, marriages, and other cultural milestones.[120] It was traditionally done on the plastered walls of mud huts, and is also done on cloth, handmade paper and canvas. Famous Mithila painters include Smt Bharti Dayal, Mahasundari Devi, the late Ganga Devi, and Sita Devi.

Mithila painting is also called Madhubani art. It mostly depicts human beings and their association with nature. Common scenes illustrate deities and Saraswati from ancient epics, celestial objects, and religious plants like Tulsi, and scenes from the royal court and social events. Generally, no space is left empty.[120]

The Patna School of Painting (Patna Kalam), sometimes called "Company Painting", flourished in Bihar during the early 18th to mid-20th centuries. It was an offshoot of the Mughal Miniature School of Painting. Those who practised this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting. Facing persecution from the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb, these artisans found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during the late 18th century. Their art shared the characteristics of the Mughal painters, expanded subject matter from court scenes to bazaar scenes, daily life and ceremonies. They used watercolours on paper and on mica. This school of painting formed the basis for the formation of the Patna Art School under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan. The school is an important centre of the fine arts in Bihar.

Performing arts

Bihar has produced musicians like Bharat Ratna, Ustad Bismillah Khan and dhrupad singers like the Malliks (Darbhanga Gharana) and the Mishras (Bettiah Gharana), along with poets like Vidyapati Thakur who contributed to Maithili music. The classical music in Bihar is a form of Hindustani classical music.[citation needed]

Gaya is another centre of classical music, particularly of the Tappa and Thumri varieties. Pandit Govardhan Mishra – son of the Ram Prasad Mishra, himself an accomplished singer – is perhaps the finest living exponent of Tappa singing in India, according to Padma Shri Gajendra Narayan Singh, founding secretary of the Sangeet Natak Academi of Bihar[citation needed].

Gajendra Narayan Singh also writes, in his memoir, that Champanagar, Banaili, was another major centre of classical music. Rajkumar Shyamanand Sinha of Champanagar, Banaili princely state, was a great patron of music and was himself one of the finest exponents of classical vocal music in Bihar in his time.[121] Singh, in another book on Indian classical music, wrote that "Kumar Shyamanand Singh of Banaili estate had such expertise in singing that many great singers including Kesarbai Kerkar acknowledged his ability. After listening to bandishes from Kumar Sahib, Pandit Jasraj was moved to tears and lamented that, alas, he did not have such ability himself." [free translation of Hindi text].[122][123]

During the 19th century, many Biharis emigrated as indentured labourers to the West Indies, Fiji, and Mauritius. During this time many sad plays and songs called birha became popular in the Bhojpur region, as Bhojpuri Birha. Dramas incorporating this theme continue to be popular in the theatres of Patna.[124][better source needed]


Bihar has a robust Bhojpuri-language film industry. There is also a smaller production of Magadhi-, Maithili- and Angika-language films. The first film with Bhojpuri dialogue was Ganga Jamuna, released in 1961.[125] Bhaiyaa, the first Magadhi film, was released in 1961.[126] The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan released in 1965.[127] Maithili film Mithila Makhaan won the National Film Award for Best Maithili Film in 2016.[128] The history of films entirely in Bhojpuri begins in 1962 with the well-received film Ganga Maiyya Tohe Piyari Chadhaibo ("Mother Ganges, I will offer you a yellow sari"), which was directed by Kundan Kumar.[129] 1963's Lagi nahin chute ram was the all-time hit Bhojpuri film, and had higher attendance than Mughal-e-Azam in the eastern and northern regions of India. Bollywood's Nadiya Ke Paar is another well-known Bhojpuri-language movie. Films such as Bidesiya ("Foreigner", 1963, directed by S. N. Tripathi) and Ganga ("Ganges", 1965, directed by Kundan Kumar) were profitable and popular, but in general Bhojpuri films were not commonly produced in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the 1980s, enough Bhojpuri films were produced to support a dedicated industry. Films such as Mai ("Mom", 1989, directed by Rajkumar Sharma) and Hamar Bhauji ("My Brother's Wife", 1983, directed by Kalpataru) had success at the box office. However, this trend faded during the 1990s.[130]

In 2001, Bhojpuri films regained popularity with Saiyyan Hamar ("My Sweetheart", directed by Mohan Prasad), which raised actor Ravi Kishan to prominence.[131] Several other commercially successful films followed, including Panditji Batai Na Biyah Kab Hoi ("Priest, tell me when I will marry", 2005, directed by Mohan Prasad) and Sasura Bada Paisa Wala ("My father-in-law, the rich guy", 2005). These films did much better business in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar than mainstream Bollywood hits at the time, and were both made on extremely tight budgets.[132] Sasura Bada Paisa Wala also introduced Manoj Tiwari, formerly a well-loved folk singer, to the wider audiences of Bhojpuri cinema. The success of Ravi Kishan and Manoj Tiwari's films led to a revival in Bhojpuri cinema, and the industry began to support an awards show[133] and trade magazine Bhojpuri City.[134] The industry produces over one hundred films per year.[citation needed]

Mass media

Biharbandhu was the first Hindi newspaper published in Bihar. It was started in 1872 by Madan Mohan Bhatta, a Marathi Brahman who settled in Bihar Sharif.[135] Hindi journalism often failed[136] until it became an official language in the state. Hindi was introduced in the law courts in Bihar in 1880.[135][137]

Urdu journalism and poetry has a long history in Bihar, with many poets such as Shaad Azimabadi, Kaif Azimabadi, Kalim Ajiz and Bismil Azimabadi. Bihar publishes many Urdu dailies, such as Qomi Tanzim and Sahara, and the monthly Voice of Bihar.[138]

The beginning of the 20th century was marked by a number of notable new publications. A monthly magazine named Bharat Ratna was started in Patna, in 1901. It was followed by Ksahtriya Hitaishi, Aryavarta from Dinapure, Udyoga, and Chaitanya Chandrika.[139] Udyog was edited by Vijyaanand Tripathy, a famous poet of the time, and Chaitanya Chandrika by Krishna Chaitanya Goswami, a literary figure of that time. The literary activity was not confined to Patna alone but to other districts of Bihar.[135][140]


Bihar is visited by many tourists from around the world,[141] In 2019 Total 33 million of tourists visited Bihar which includes more than 1 million foreign tourist.[142] Bihar is home of two UNESCO World Heritage Site. The culture and heritage of Bihar can be observed from the large number of ancient monuments spread throughout the state. The Mahabodhi Temple (literally: "Great Awakening Temple"), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an ancient, but much rebuilt and restored, Buddhist temple in Bodh Gaya, marking the location where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment. Bodh Gaya (in Gaya district) is about 96 km (60 mi) from Patna, Bihar state, India. Nalanda Mahavihara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an worlds oldest university situated in Nalanda , Bihar. It comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal. Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent. Archaeological Survey of India has recognized 72 monuments in Bihar as Monuments of National Importance. Furthermore, Archaeological Survey of India has recognized 30 additional monument as protected monuments in Bihar.

Bihar has many places for Ecotourism which includes Valmiki National Park is famous national park and tiger reserve. Vikramshila Dolphin Sanctuary is home of endangered Gangetic Dolphin. Bihar has many wildlife sanctuary such Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary, Gautam Buddha Wildlife Sanctuary, Kaimur Sanctuary, Udaypur Wildlife Sanctuary and Pant Wildlife Sanctuary. Bihar invites many species of migratory birds at bird sanctuary like Kanwar Lake Bird Sanctuary and Nagi Dam Bird Sanctuary.

Many tourist visit Bihar because of religious significance of the Bihar. Hindu Goddess Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, is believed to have been born in Sitamarhi in the Mithila region of modern-day Bihar.[143][144] Gautama Buddha attained Enlightenment at Bodh Gaya, a town located in the modern day district of Gaya in Bihar. Vasupujya, the 12th Jain Tirthankara was born in Champapuri, Bhagalpur. Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali around the 6th century BC.[145] Śrāddha ritual performed in Pitru Paksha period considered as fruitful in the holy city of Gaya, which is seen as a special place to perform the rite, and hosts a fair during the Pitri Paksha period.[146]


Patna river port on national inland waterways-1 at Gai Ghat


Bihar has a total of three operational airports as of 2020: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport in Patna, Gaya Airport in Gaya, and Darbhanga Airport in Darbhanga. All three airports have scheduled flights to major cities around India. Gaya Airport is the only international airport in Bihar, having seasonal flights to countries like Thailand, Bhutan, and Myanmar.

State highways

Bihar has state highways with total length of 4,006 km (2,489 mi)  and national highways with total length of 5,358 km (3,329 mi).

Inland Waterways

The Ganges is navigable throughout the year, and was the principal river highway across the vast Indo-Gangetic Plain. Vessels capable of accommodating five hundred merchants were known to ply this river in the ancient period, when it served as a conduit for overseas trade. The role of the Ganges as a channel for trade was enhanced by its natural links to major rivers and streams in north and south Bihar.[147]


Front view of administrative building of IIT Patna
NIT Patna main building

Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the ancient universities of Nalanda (est. 450 CE), Odantapurā (est. 550 CE) and Vikramashila (est. 783 CE). Nalanda and Vikramshila universities were destroyed by Islamic invader Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1200 CE.[148] Bihar saw a revival of its education system during the later part of the British rule, when Patna University, the seventh oldest university of the Indian subcontinent, was established in 1917.[149] Some other centres of high learning established under British rule are Patna College (est. 1839), Bihar School of Engineering (est. 1900; now known as National Institute of Technology, Patna), Prince of Wales Medical College (est. 1925; now Patna Medical College and Hospital), Science College, Patna (est. 1928), Patna Women's College, Bihar Veterinary College (est. 1927), and Imperial Agriculture Research Institute (est. 1905; now Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University, Pusa). The Patna University, one of the oldest universities in Bihar, was established in 1917, and is the 7th oldest university of the Indian subcontinent. Second oldest engineering college of India known as NIT Patna was established as survey training school in 1886 and later renamed as Bihar College of Engineering in 1932.

Today, Bihar is home of 7 Institutes of National Importance which includes IIT Patna, IIM Bodh Gaya, AIIMS, Patna, NIT Patna, IIIT Bhagalpur, NIPER Hajipur and Nalanda International University. In 2008, Indian Institutes of Technology Patna was inaugurated with students from all over India[150] and same year National Institute of Fashion Technology Patna was established as the ninth such institute in India.[151] The Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya was established in 2015. In March 2019, the government of Bihar has sent a proposal to centre Government to upgrade Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital into an AIIMS-like institution.[152] Bihar is home of four Central universities which includes Central University of South Bihar, Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agriculture University and Nalanda University. In 2015, the central government had proposed re-establishment of Vikramshila in Bhagalpur and had designated 500 crores (5 billion) for it.[153] Bihar also has the National Institute of Fashion Technology Patna, National Law University, Patna Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Footwear Design and Development Institute, Bihta and Central Institute of Plastic Engineering & Technology (CIPET) Center. CIPET (and IHM was established in Hajipur in 1994 and 1998 respectively. Aryabhatta Knowledge University was established under Aryabhatta Knowledge University Act, 2008 of Bihar Government[154] with purpose of the development and management of educational infrastructure related to technical education, medical, management and allied professional education in Bihar.[155] Based on 2020–21 data, Aryabhatta Knowledge University has 56 Engineering and Pharmacy colleges, 15 Medical colleges, 33 Educational colleges, 8 community colleges, 36 Nursing colleges and 11 Vocational colleges.[156] Chanakya National Law University and Chandragupt Institute of Management were established in the later half of 2008 and now attracts students from not just within Bihar but also students from far flung states. Nalanda International University is established in 2014 with active investment from countries such as Japan, Korea, and China. The A.N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies is a premier research institute in the state.[157] Bihar has eight medical colleges which are funded by the government, namely Patna Medical College and Hospital, Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, Vardhman Institute of Medical Sciences, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences, Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital, Anugrah Narayan Magadh Medical College and Hospital Gaya, Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Bhagalpur, Government Medical College, Bettiah and five private medical colleges[158]

Bihta , a suburb of state capital Patna, is home of institutes like IIT Patna, AIIMS, Patna, BIT, Patna and is now emerging as an education hub.[159][160] With institute like Super 30, Patna has emerged as a major center for engineering and civil services coaching. The major private IIT-JEE coaching institutes have opened up their branches in Bihar and this has reduced the number of students who go to, for example, Kota and Delhi for engineering/medical coaching.

Bihar e-Governance Services & Technologies (BeST) and the government of Bihar have initiated a unique program to establish a centre of excellence called Bihar Knowledge Center, a finishing school to equip students with the latest skills and customised short-term training programs at an affordable cost. The centre aims to attract the youth of the state to improve their technical, professional, and soft skills, to meet the current requirements of the industrial job market.[161] The National Employability Report of Engineering Graduates, 2014,[162] puts graduates from Bihar in the top 25 percent of the country, and rates Bihar as one of the three top states at producing engineering graduates in terms of quality and employability.[163]

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Further reading