Singheshwar Sthan

The cult of Saivism has found expression in Bihar in a large number of Shiva temples and particularly on the districts bordering Nepal. Champaran, Saran, Muzaffarpur, Darbhanga and Saharsa have got quite a few Shiva temples.

The influence of Nepal, where Saivism has a very great holds, is clearly one of the reason why there are so many Shiva temples in these boarder districts. Many of these Shiva temples are visited by thousands of pilgrims from Nepal.

The Singheshwar temple at  Singheshwar in Saharsa district is one of the ancient Shiva temples in Bihar. It is visited by lakhs of pilgrims in the course of a year .

 It speaks a lot for the religiosity of Hindu India that inspite of the generations of the people of this district fighting against death, disease and frustration, the Mahadeo temple at Singheshwar acted as a beacon light and a source of inspiration by drawing pilgrims in their myriad’s from even far beyond tile confines of Saharsa district.

The temple of Mahadeo, at Singheshwar in Madhepura  district is commonly accepted as very ancient. According to the Legend prevalent in the area, Sringa Rishi who had performed the Putreshti Yajna for king Dasaratha installed the Shiva linga. The legend has induced a number of barren women to pay a daily visit to the temple.
The present temple, over the ancient lingam was constructed about two hundred years back by a merchant of Bhagalpur by the name of Hari Charan Choudhury.

Barah Puran has a story as follows:-Once upon a time Lord Shiva went to a forest called SIesh Atmak and told Nandishwar that he should not divulge to anybody where he had gone. Lord Indra with Lord Brahma, and Lord Vishnu went to Mount, Munjwan and asked Nandishwar where Lord Shiva had gone. As Nandishwar did not tell them of Lord Shiva’s whereabouts, these three gods went to the Slesh Atmak forest in search of him.

Their Lord Shiva took the form of a deer. Recognizing him, they ran to catch hold of him. Indra caught the front portion of tile horn of the deer, Brahma its middle portion, and Lord Vishnu caught the root. The horn broke into three pieces and the deer disappeared. Then they heard a voice from the heaven addressed to them to the effect that they would not be able to find Lord Shiva and that they were to rest satisfied with the portion of the horn in their hands.

Lord Indra established the portion of the horn, which had fallen into his hand, in heaven. Lord Brahma established it at that very place. Both these parts came to be known as Kokaran. Lord Vishnu established on earth what had fallen into his hand, for the good of humanity, and this place came to be known as Singheshwar.

Two of the boundaries of Singheshwar mentioned in the Barah Puran axe north of Mandrachal and south of Munjwan Shikhar. Mandar Hill of Bhagalpur district is commonly accepted as the Mandrachal and the present temple is to the north of Mandar Hill.
Munjwan Shikhar stands for a peak in the Himalayas and the Mahadeo temple is south of it. 
Some time back in 1937 there was a title suit between the pandas of the temple and the people.The pandas had claimed the temple to be their private property and contested that it was not a public one.

According to them, two of their ancestors, Anant Thakur and his brother Mahesh Thakur, had set up the lingam. The pandas, however, conceded that the original temple had fallen down and Hari Charan Choudhury built the present temple, but they continued in their private possession.

This contention of the pandas was, however, rejected in the Civil Court and the temple was declared to be a public property, The Maharajadhiraj of Darbhanga had assigned a neighboring village, Gouripur, to the deity.

According to the Judge's order, in 1945, a Trust Committee was formed and the pandas were instructed to act as the Pujari of the deity under the Manager to be appointed by the Trust Committee.

It was decided, further, that, after meeting all the expenditure for the maintenance of the temple and the observance of the ceremonials, a certain portion of the income will be set apart and the rest will be divided among the fourteen families of the pandas according to their accepted shares.

The temple was brought under the control of the State Government from 1957, when the Religious Trust Act was passed. Now there is a Committee set up by the Religious Trust Board and the Sub- divisional Officer of Madhepura is the President. The pandas are also represented in the Committee.

On a common estimate near about three lakhs of pilgrims visit the temple every year. The amenities for a place visited by lakhs of people are, however, poor. There is a dharmashala,which can accommodate only about 100 persons. At the time of the mela the Government provides a number of tents and sheds.

During the occasion of Shivaratri, when thousands of people come every day to offer puja to the lingam, a large cattle fair is also held. This cattle fair continues for about 15 days and the turn-over of the cattle is said to be numerically second only to that of Hariharkshetra mela at Sonepur in Saran District.

There is nothing specially striking about the architectural beauty in the construction of the temple, Within the temple compound there are various other constructions and particularly a small temple of Ram Janki set up by one Raghubar Das decades before.
There is also a samadhi of another saint, Bir Bharati, in one corner of the compound. Some of the door frames and platforms were constructed as gifts from pilgrims.

Konch Temple

Konch is about eighteen miles from Gaya on the Gaya-Daudnagar road.Konch contains remains of numerous temples, but the principal one is an ancient temple entirely of bricks. The temple is a square building, the dimension of which on the outside is 27 feet 6 inches square with a chamber inside 11 feet square. The entrance is to the east. The height is nearly 70 feet. It has two storeys. The lower story is vaulted in the Hindu fashion, that is, it has two arched roofs meeting in a ridge. Bricks overlapping on all the four sides till they meet at a point form the upper storey. The doorway isalmost as high as the room inside. The construction of the temple in bricks is a feat of high engineering skill considering the time it was built.

There is a mandap or a flat-roofed pillared hall in front. The mandap has now crumbled down. The stone pillars that supported it are lying in front of the temple. They are granite pillars and are ornamented by a single lotus carved on each of the faces in the lowest square portions of the pillars. This mandap was most likely built to form a roof for the accommodation of the large collection of statues assembled there.

A casual look at the Konch temple brings to mind the image of the Mahabodbi temple at Bodh Gaya. As a matter of fact, there is a theory that the ancient brick built temple at Konch served as the model for the Mahabodhi temple. But the Konch temple differs from the Mahabodhi temple at Bodh Gaya in that the latter has its four, sides straight from top to bottom, while the Konch temple has its sides curved in the, upper portion.

Moreover, the Bodh Gaya temple has numerous niches with images and ornamentation’s on the exterior of its walls, whereas the exterior of the Konch temple has no such niches. In the temple at Konch each wall is divided externally into seven phases by deeply recessed upright lines. These divisions still remain strongly pronounced, while a general coat of plaster mostly conceals the curved ornamentation.

There is a lingam of Koncheswar Mahadeva inside the temple. It would seem that a new floor has been constructed later at a somewhat higher level, so that the lingam now appears standing in a hollow. From this hollow a small channel leads to the north to carry off the oblation water poured over the lingam. The outlet of this channel is still there on the north side. This shows that this channel formed a part of the original construction.

The temple is built of properly shaped, well-burnt bricks though of different sizes. Some bricks measure 11" X 5 ½ " X 2 ¾", some 9" X 4 ¾" X 2 ¾ " and other 13" X 7 ½" X 2 ¾". The use of different types of bricks is, the temple has undergone extensive repairs from time to time, as held by Cunningham and Beglar of the Archaeological Survey of India. It is, however, clear that the last reconstruction was done quite a considerable period ago.

Konch temple or the area around is not protected under the Ancient Monuments Act and the temple is decaying rapidly.The entrance to the temple is, as usual, presented by a great rent or opening in the face of the tower. It consists of vertical sides, spanned by an arch of overlapping small sized bricks of the shape of a tall isosceles triangle with indented sides. This entrance is divided into two parts by a stone right across a lower rectangular one.

The lower rectangular portion gives admission into the sanctum. The portion above consists of an upper rectangle surmounted by a triangular opening. This upper portion of the opening leads to the upper chamber. This pinnacle had a hemispherical top. It also appears from his observations that the upper portion of the opening threw light on the object of worship, while the front of the object was dark. With the construction of the upper chamber the whole of the interior has now become dark.

The statues and other relies, whether inside or lying about, is Brahmanical. Inside the temple there are statues of Haragauri and the Ashta Saktis. The most interesting piece inside the shrine is a panel sculpture of the Dashavataras representing, Vishnu. A remarkable fact is that the Konch temple representation of the Dashavataras differs from such representations elsewhere as it divides the Vamana, avatara into two scenes by leaving out the ninth or the Buddha avatara and by representing Vishnu in the tenth or Kalki avatara along with a female deity with a small horse standing in front. These Dasharataras are exquisitely sculptured.

A fish standing vertically on its tail represents the fish incarnation. The tortoise incarnation bears a close resem- blance to the Saivic emblems of the argha and lingam with the sole addition of a couple of human figures on the sides holding a string which is wound round the lingam; the lingam thus does the duty of Mount Mandar.This temple of Siva worship is clearly of Brahmanical origin. The construction, the images and the tradition all support this.

It has not yet been definitely established as to when this temple was originally constructed. The massiveness of the pillars shows that it must have been built at a very early period.Tradition assigns it to Bhairavendra and also suggests it be dedicated to Surya. Beglar recorded the following lines of a ballad very popular in the area when lie carried out the archaeological survey in 1872-73:
Konch base' sab soch mite'
Durj Raj pasend Maha", mun gyan'
Bed Puranan Ki Charcha'
Tanha, Punjat hei a'd Bhawa'ni'
Sah, sara’f, haraf, chaab jiwan par bin bhakha'ni
Tatenhi Tatenhi Thun Mathu Ki Ja’nha' det
Abhy bar Sewsimbha Bhawasii.
These lines mean:
"Konch was established, all troubles ceased, Durj Raj chose a wise Mahamuni (as chief?), and discourse of Vedas and Puranas spread. There is worshipped Bhavani; merchants, good men, evil men, all life (heard of) the fame; on going (there) the gift of fearlessness and virile strength is bestowed by Siva and Bhavani." (Translation is Beglar's).

Beglar, however, himself recorded that many people of the locality did not agree with the interpretation, as many of the words are obsolete. At present these lines are almost forgotten in the locality. It may be mentioned that Kanch or Koncheswara is a name of Lord Siva. It was suggested that the lingam inside and the panel of sculpture of the Dashavatara, coupled with the absence of figures or images on the exterior, indicated that this Siva temple, of prior origin to the Buddhist edifices in the Gaya district.

The exterior of the temple with the missing cylindrical pinnacle mentioned by Beglar has further led to the theory that the Konch temple was the model on which the Mahabodhi temple of Bodh Gaya was built. This theory has not, however, been investigated properly. In Hiuen Tsangs description this temple is stated to have been built by a Brahman. He puts the probable date of the construction between the, First and Sixth Century A.D. Beglar's visit to the temple in 1872-73 has left for us a record of how he found the temple.

Beglar has also given his opinion as to the age of the temple and discards the view that it was originally a Buddhist chaitya where a lingam was introduced. According to him the temple is clearly a Brahmanical one and dedicated to Lord Siva. He has fully supported Hiuen Tsang's observation that this was a Hindu temple.

Beglar's account of the -external shape of the Konch temple is interesting and may be quoted. He observed:"The external shape of the tower, however, differs from that of the great Buddha Gaya temple in being a curved and not a straight-sided pyramid; it is consequently more graceful than the temple at Buddha Gaya.

The ornamentation externally consists of a great oval on each face, at a point nearly in the middle of the total height of the tower proper, and of various mouldings and indentations rather sparingly used; the whole of the ornamen- tation is of brick cut to shape, and it is evident from the way the ornaments are distributed, that the whole of it was cut on the external faces of the tower after it had been built up plain. The labor required may easily be imagined too; this is due to the fact that the face of the brick-work is so even; for I do not think it possible without subsequent laborious rubbing down, that any amount of care in setting the bricks, and iri the preservation of the shape and sharpness of edges of the bricks during manufacture, could produce the wonder- fully smooth even face that the work has to this day, not with- standing the ravages of time.
"The temple does not appear to have been originally covered with plaster, but portions of it are now covered with plaster, the remains, no doubt, of a coat put on at some subsequent period.

"The tower is, or was surmounted by a cylindric pinnacle like the temple of Buddha Gaya. This sort of pinnacle is very remarkable, and its form resembling a lingam may be more than a mere accident of construction. Constructively, it was evidently impossible to form in brick the amalaka which invariably surmounts temples of stone, itself again surmounted by either urns or tapering discs ending in a spire."
Major General Cunningham, however, was of the opinion that the date of this temple should be ascribed to the Eighth Century A.D.

According to the commonly accepted tradition, however, Bhairavendra who lived in 1450 A.D built the temple. There is no accurate information as to when this Bhairavendra actually lived. It has been pointed out that the style and the general appearance of the temple have a great similarity to the temples at Deo and Umga in Gaya district. The two temples at Deo and Umga are taken to have been built about the 8th century A.D.
Major General Cunningham and H. B. Garrick who had visited the place in 1880-81 have observed:"I found nothing that appeared to give any clue to the age of the temple save the great front opening formed by overlapping bricks, like those of Buddha Gaya temple, an the later temples of Deo-Barnarak and Mahadeopur. From its general resem- blance in other respects to the Barnarak temples, I conclude that it may be of the same age, that is about the 8th century A.D."

T. Bloch, Archaeological Surveyor, Bengal Circle, had visited the area in 1902 and, agreeing with this view, had observed about Konch, Utren, Deo and Umga temples in Bihar as follows:" I have grouped these places together, because I consider it evident that the temple at Konch is of the same period as the temple at Deo and Umga. The resem- blance in style is remarkable. It originally had in front a flat-roofed pillared hall or mandapa which still may be seen on an old photograph, taken by Mr. Peppe, but which now hat fallen in, the stone pillars supporting it still lying in front of thetemple.

The same is characteristic for the temples at Deo and Umga, and the ornamentation of the Spire at Deo also is of the same kind as at Konch. The temple at Umga is plain, without ornaments. Moreover, tradition points to Bhairavendra, who lived about 1459 A.D., as the builder of the Konch temple. From his time also date, as we know from local inscriptions, the principal monuments at Deo and Umga. For these reasons, I think that the hitherto accepted date of the Konch temple, viz., eighth century A -D. should be put back for some seven centuries. The temple at Konch is not in a good state of preservation; although repaired some time ago, a great portion of the brick wall in front of the spire has fallen down. The building is worth being kept in a permanent state of repairs."

To the cast of the temple there is a large sheet of water with brick-covered mounds on all sides. In the west there is a ruined temple, 12 feet 3 inches square inside, and at the north-western corner there is a second ruined temple only 7 feet 8 inches square inside, with walls 2 feet 9 ½ inches thick. The Konch village, which stands to the south of the lake and the great temple, has also several sculptured images of which the best are a figure of Vishnu and a seated Buddha.

The temple is daily visited by a large number of local devotees. Special puja is offered on Shivaratri and other auspicious days to propitiate Lord Shiva when large crowds visit the temple. A big mela is held during the Shivaratri festival and thousands of people assemble, in the mela. It is a pity such an important and famous temple, which may have been taken as a model for the Mahabodhi temple of Gaya, should remain neglected and unprotected under the Ancient Monuments Act. Rapid decay has already set in and it is believed a large number of relies have already been removed.

Mandar Hill :A great place of pilgrimage

Mandar Hill is about 700 feet high and is situated about 30 miles south of the town of Bhagalpur. There is a branch railway line ofthe Eastern Railway connecting Bhagal- pur with Mandar Hill and Mandar Hill station is the terminus of the branch line. Mandar Hill station is about three miles from Mandar Hill. There is also a good all- weather road connecting Bhagalpur to Dumka, the headquarters of Santhal Parganas district, and Mandar Hill is about a mile from the road at a certain point.

The hill consists of a huge mass of granite overgrown near the summit with low jungles. There are two temples near the top of the hill, approached by steps cut out of the rock. Mandar Hill is held very sacred in Hindu mythology and finds mention in the Mandar Mahatmya-a portion of Skanda Purana. An idea of the antiquity and legend of Mandar Hill can be had properly in the light of the antiquity and tradition of the district where Mandar Hill is situated.

Bhagalpur district is a part of ancient Anga and is an area hoary with traditions and legends. Atharva-veda mentions the people of Anga. It is said that Titikshu, the second son of Mahamanas, the, seventh in descent from Anu, had founded the kingdom Anava and named it after its ancestors. The Asura king Bali had five kshetraja sons from his wife Sudeshna, namely, Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Pundra and Sumha.

The Anava kingdom was expanded under that Asura king and five kingdoms were carved out of it and named after his five sons. Separated from Magadha by the river Champa, Anga comprised of the modern districts of Bhagalpur and Monghyr. Malini was the capital of Anga desha and later on, in Matsya Purana we find mention of Champa Malini as the capital. There is frequent mention of the place in the Vana Parva of Mahabharata as a place of pilgrimage.

Not much is known about the genealogy of the kings of Anga, but Lomapada, the seventh in the genealogical list, was known to be a friend of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. Champa was the great grandson of Lomapada and during his time the capital was re-named as Champa or Champapuri. Champapuri is often mentioned in the Mahabharata and later in the Buddhist works. It has been a citadel of Buddhism as well as Hinduism.

The large finds of Buddhistic relies throughout the district indicate that Anga desha was very much under Buddhistic influence, The area was also sanctified as the birth-place of Basupujya, the 12th Jaina Tirthankara and was closely associated with Parsva, the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. Lord Mahavira Vardhamana, the 24th and last Jaina Tirthankara, had spent three rainy seasons at Champapuri.

At the time of the Buddha, Champa was one of the six great cities, along with Rajagriha, Sravasti, Saketa, Kausambi and Varanasi. Subhadrangi, Asoka's mother, was born at Champa. Champa. is also associated with a number of Jataka stories, wherein we read of merchants boarding the ships at Champa and going to Ceylon and other areas. Anga desha was virtually the confluence of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Later, this area appears to have come under Satanika Parantap, the king of the Vatsyas, whose capital was Kausambi near Allahabad. Satanika Parantap had attacked Champa, which was then under the rule of King Dadhivahana. It appears that a later king, Bhattiya of Magadha, was defeated by Brahmadatta of Anga; but BimbiSara (c. 603-551 B. C.), son of Bhattiya, avenged his father's defeat and annexed Anga to his empire. Anga, with Champa as the capital, remained a part of the Magadhan Empire for centuries to come.

As a part of Magadha, Anga experienced the vicissitudes and changes of the ruling dynasties of the Magadhan Empire. The Sisunagas, Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas and the Guptas, as the rulers of the Magadhan empire, had control over Magadha some time or other. Bhagalpur district, which was the core of Anga desha, had also a full impact of the renaissance of Indian art, which the Guptas had ushered in. Many of the finely executed relies and statues that have been later found in Bhagalpur district could be ascribed to the Gupta era.

A copper statue of the Buddha measuring 71 feet in height, discovered at Sultanganj, is an exquisite specimen, which is now kept in the Birmingham Museum. This is one of the finest of the finds in Bhagalpur district. Fa-hien and Hieun-tsang had both visited Bhagalpur districts. The district has also the site of the famous Vikramshila University, as the recent excavations at Patharghatta region near Colgong have unearthed a large number of relies which go to substantiate the claim of this area as the site of that great university.

Under the Palas, Anga desha had an era of prosperity and a revival of culture. The Bhagalpur copper plate of Narayana Pala indicates that this monarch had recovered north Bengal and Bihar from the hands of the Pratihara king Mahendra Pala (c. 885-910 A.D.), who had previously defeated him. An inscription dated the sixth year of the reign of Gopala IT, who succeeded Narayana Pala, has been found at qajimpara in Malda district (West Bengal) and it refers to a victorious camp of Gopala 11 at Ghataparbatika.

Ghataparbatika is traditionally associated with Bateshwarsthan at Patharghatta, near Colgong, which is now once again accepted as the site of Vikramshila University. Later the Sena kings also had their impact on Anga.

Mandar Hill is a great place of pilgrimage although it is not so well known now. The relies on Mandar Hill indicate a confluence of two religions, Hinduism and Jainism, and side by side there are temples held sacred by the followers of these two creeds. Mandar Hill temples were desecrated by Kala Pahar and one of the idols, Madhusudan Bhagwan, was removed by someone and enshrined in a temple at Baunsi. Especially on Makar Sankranti day thousands of local pilgrims visit the temples at Mandar.

The numerous relies of buildings, tanks, large wells and stone figures, found for a mile or two round the base of this sacred bill, indicate that once there was a large city here. The popular story is that the city at the foot of the hill had 52 markets, 53 streets and 88 tanks. According to local tradition, on the night of the Diwali festival a large building (the ruins of which are still there and the walls of which contain an immense number of small holes, evidently to hold chiraghs or small lamps) was formerly illuminated by thousands of lights, each householder supplying one light only.

Now for a description of the relics at Mandar Hill. The two temples at the top are to be approached by stages, as it were. At the foot of the hill there is a tank called Papaharini and from the vicinity of the tank three routes lead to the top of the hill. The name of the tank Papaharini is suggestive.

There is a legend about the tank. There was a king in Karnatak, Chola by name, who is supposed to have taken a bath in the tank on Makar Sankranti day before he went to offer his puja at the temple atop the hill. It is said that the king was cured of the disease from which he was suffering. Some say it was leprosy while others suggest that it was a persistent skin trouble. The reputation that the tank has gained for curing ailments attracts a large number of people to it on the Makar Sankranti day for a bath.

From 4 A.M. till 12 noon, hundreds of people have their bath in this tank and a big mela is held near the tank. Thousands collect to have a darshan of Madhusudan Bhagwan particularly on this day. It is said that this deity was enshrined at the temple of Mandar, but left the hill and went to Baunsi when the temple was desecrated by Kala Pahar.

On the Makar Sankranti day the image is brought out from Baunsi and is taken in a procession to Mandar. After a worship at Mandar Hill it is taken back to Baunsi. Papaharini tank also attracts a large number of bathers on Mekh Sankranti, solar eclipse, and lunar eclipse, Bhado Purnima, Kartik Purnima and Maghi Purnima days. The water of the tank is often taken for being kept in the houses of the devotees, who regard it to be as sacred as the waters of the Ganga. There is a dak bungalow belonging to the Forest Department near this tank.

Near Papaharini tank at the foot of the hill there are a number of ruined temples said to have been destroyed by Kala Pahar. Of the three routes, which lead from the Papaharini tank to the top of the hill, the path a little to the east is much used. On this path stairs have been cut out of the stone. The legend is that these stairs had been cut at the instance of King Ugra Bhairab. A few yards up this path there is a headless idol or an image. It is the image of either Durga or Kali and it is said that Kala Pahar had beheaded the idol. A little higher up there is a small idol on a small pillar. This idol is worshipped as the Sun God.

Further up there is another very big idol having three faces and ten hands. This deity is Mahakal Bhairab. A little higher but in close proximity to Mahakal Bhairab, there is a small image of Sri Ganesha. Near the latter image, as you go up, there is an idol of Saraswati, which is about two feet high. Near the idol of Mahakal Bhairab and just by the side of the stairs, there is a three-line inscription.

Two very thick and remarkably parallel lines run round the bill. It is difficult to believe that any human hand couldpossibly have drawn them. The lines are at a distance of about six feet from each other and look as if a motor vehicle with grooved tyres bad passed over the hill. The story goes that this hill was bound with a serpent and the sea was churned with it at the time of Samudra Manthar. The steep granite hill hardly offers any foothold and engineers are of the opinion that it is extremely difficult for any human agency to make these marks round the -massive hill without modern equipment

After a pilgrim passes the image of Mahakal Bhairab, he will feel as if a lot more of physical exertion has to be put in to reach the summit, especially as the path becomes extremely steep. In spite of the steps cut out of the stone, it is far from easy to ascend. Here also one finds some inscriptions, which are not very distinct. Near about these inscriptions there is another female deity with eight hands. This image is worshipped as Saraswati. Above this idol -one comes across two paths and both of them lead to a cave temple of Narsingh Bhagwan.

There is a tank known as Sita Kund. One of these paths passes by Sita Kund while the other skirts another tank called Sunkh Kund. Sita Kund tank is about 500 feet long and 100 feet wide and is situated in front of the ruins of the oldest temple, at a level of 500 feet above the surrounding plain. Near Sita Kund there are three large tamarind trees which offer shade to the pilgrims. The cave temple of Narsingh Bhagwan is carved out of the hill and the roof is so low that one cannot stand up in it. Near the cave temple there is one small ashram constructed of bricks and stones.

The ashram apparently accommodated some hermits in the past. The ashram is now empty. On the summit of the hill there are two small temples. One of the temples contains six marks of human feet. These marks are held sacred and the legend is that they are the foot-marks of Vishnu, Saraswati and Laxmi. There are two other temples at the summit occupied by the Jains and are used by them as places of pilgrimage. The Jain temples are built of stone and mortar and are evidently not very old.The summit of the hill commands exquisite scenery. The tanks surrounding the hill, the fields, and the two rivers, the Chir and the Chandan, look very beautiful. Mandar Hill is extremely valuable for the antiquarian and the Hindu and Jain pilgrims.

According to the legend commonly believed, it was here that Vishnu had defeated the notorious giant Madhukaitab in a battle that had lasted for ten thousand years, ultimately the Mandar Hill had been thrust over the body of Madhukaitab, so that the monster could not do any further harm to the earth. We have also referred to the legend, to be found in the Puranas and the Mahabharata, that this hill was used for churning the ocean to extract the nectar from its bosom (Samudra Manthan).

It is known that, with the break-up of the Gupta Empire, the later Guptas of Magadha, whose connections with the imperial Guptas have not been fully ascertained, established supremacy over Magadha. Adityasena, son of Madhava Gupta, was the eighth king of this line and came to be known as a greatadministrator. An inscription of Adityasena has been discovered on the 'Mandar Hill. This inscription relates that both he and his queen Sri Kondadevi had installed an image of Narahari (Man-lion), an incarnation of Vishnu, on the hill, and that the queen performed an act of piety by excavating a tank, known as Papaharini, at the foot of the said hill. Papaharini was also known as Manohar Kund.

The Mandar Mahatmya, a portion of the Skanda Purana, describes Mandar Hill. It is said that Raja Chhatra Sen of the Chol tribe, who lived before the time of the Muhammadans, erected the oldest temples at the summit. Some of the carvings on the rocks are taken by some to be shell writings. Mandar Hill is also very important as it has the unique image of Vishnu, probably the only sculpture in Bihar where Vishnu, in his man-lion incarnation, has not been shown as tearing Hiranyakashipu. The image is 34 inches high and made of black stone. It belongs to the Gupta period.

Bihar :As old as civilisation itself

Bihar is as old as civilisation itself. It is glorious, colourful and ancient a land. Here lived the mythological king Janaka of Videha, vedic period Rishi Yangyabalka, Ramayan famed Maharshi Valmiki and Kautilya, the author of Arthashastra, the first treatise on modern economics. This had been the land where great religious leaders like Buddha, Mahavir and Nanak were born and great kings like Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka and Sher Sah ruled. Here in the land flourished the ancient seats of learning - Nalanda and Vikramshila. `Ahimsa' was propagated from here and Gandhiji launched his civil-disobedience movement against the mighty British. This is the land of great Madhubani paintings, enchanting Sujuni work, Bhagalpuri silks and plenty of delicious Leechies and Mangoes.

Located in the central and lower Gangetic plateau in the North-eastern Sector of India the State is surrounded by The Himalayan land of Nepal in North, Uttar Pradesh in the West and the newly formed Jharkhand State in South and East.

The name Bihar is perhaps a derivative of the Buddhist word "Vihar" which finds mention in Nawakat-E-Nasiri of 1263 and also in Kirtilata of the great poet Vidyapati in 1390.

Ancient Bihar comprised of independent States like Magadha, Anga, Baishali, Mithila etc., which had shaped the socio-cultural heritage of India. But, it is Brihadratha, the Magadha King first established the Magadha empire in the region which in course of history came to be known as Bihar.

The Sisunagas followed the Magadha Kings around 6th century B.C. Bimbisar and his son Ajatsatru annexed Anga and expanded the kingdom upto Punjab. In order to be away from the Baishali State, they erected their Capital at the confluence of the Ganges and Sone river in Pataligram which was known as Puspapur or Pataliputra. If Sisunag kings strengthened Magadha empire, it is the Maurya and Gupta kings made ancient Bihar a prosperous and enlightened State as known from the history.

With the fall of Gupta dynasty to the invaders from the middle east during 7th ,8th century, Bihar lost its past glory and it no longer remained as the political and cultural centre of India. Pataliputra, Munger were annexed by the Pal Kings of Bengal. Gaya, Bhagalpur, Rohtas etc. became small independent States. The mighty Magadh empire disintegrated. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar from the Pal kings, but it was difficult for Delhi Sultanate to administer. Bihar continued to be under provincial administration except during the period of Sher Shah.

It is Akbar, the great Mughal emperor during 1575-76 annexed Bihar and Bengal to his empire and gave Bihar a stable administration making it a part of Bengal. However, with the decline of Mughal empire, Bihar passed into the hands of Nawabs of Bengal.
With the rise of British ascendancy in Bengal during 1757-65, Bihar's political life was much influenced. Jharkhand, Singhbhum, Santhal Praganas remained away from the local politics. The tribal chiefs remained independent of Muslim Subedars. At this juncture Lord Clive arrived at Patna in 1757 and in the decisive war of Buxar in 1765 the Dewani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa was granted to the East India Company by the Mughal emperor Shah Alam.

However the people of Bihar never accepted the British. The Santhal Pragana revolt of 1781-82, the Hoj agitation of 1820-21, Kol agitation of 1831-33, finally shaped into the revolt of 1857 led by Kunwar Singh. This was the beginning of national freedom movement in India.

Formation of Brahma-Samaj in 1868, publication of Bihar Times in 1894 demanding a separate State regulated further the political course in Bihar.
Sh. Satchidanand Sinha was selected to the central legislative council in 1910. In December, 1911 Bihar & Orissa was made separate from Bengal but in 1912 Bihar State was first formed. Orissa ceded away from Bihar on 1st April, 1936 under the Govt. of India Act, 1935 as an independent separate State. At independence in 1947, earstwhile Bihar province formed the State of Bihar and underwent geographical changes during 1956 with 4 Provinces and 17 Districts, which were further changed to 5 Provinces and 33 Districts during 1972-73. With formation of Jharkhand state on 14th November, 2000 the state again had undergone changes in its boundary.