Bihar

Bihar (; Hindi pronunciation: [bɪˈɦaːr] (About this sound)) 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.

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]

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][22][23] Many economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the policies of the central government, such as the freight equalization policy,[24][25] its apathy towards Bihar,[15][26][27] lack of Bihari sub-nationalism,[25][28][29] and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company.[25] The state government has, however, made significant strides in developing the state.[30] Improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure,[31] better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption.[32][33]

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.[34][35]

Chirand, on the northern bank of the Ganga River, in Saran district, has an archaeological record from the Neolithic age (c. 2500–1345 BC).[36][37] 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.[38][39] 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.[40] 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.[38][41][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.[42] 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 BC, 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 BC, 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.[43][44]

The Gupta Empire, which originated in Magadha in 240 AD, is referred as the Golden Age of India in science, mathematics, astronomy, commerce, religion, and Indian philosophy.[45] Bihar and Bengal was invaded by Rajendra Chola I of the Chola dynasty in the 11th century.[46][47]

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.[48][49][50][51] D. N. Jha suggests, instead, that these incidents were the result of Buddhist–Brahmin skirmishes in a fight for supremacy.[52] 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.[53] 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.[54] It was during this period that the capital of Mithila was shifted to Darbhanga.[55][56]

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.

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.[57] Bihar remained a part of the Bengal Presidency of British India until 1912, when Bihar and Orissa was carved out as a separate province.

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

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.[58][59]

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.[60]

Following independence, Bihari migrant workers have faced violence and prejudice in many parts of India, such as Maharashtra, Punjab and Assam.[61][62]

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 dominated by a vast stretch of fertile plain which is divided unevenly by the Ganges River. Central parts of Bihar have some small hills, such as the Rajgir hills.

Though the foothills of the Himalayas begin in Nepal, a short distance to the north, these mountains influence Bihar's landforms, climate and hydrology. Along with the Chota Nagpur plateau in Jharkhand to the south, these give Bihar a diverse climate. Its temperature is subtropical in general, with hot summers and cold winters.

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 has reserved forest area of 6,845 km2 (2,643 sq mi), which is 7.27% of its geographical area.[63] 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,[64] 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.[65] 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.[63] 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).[66] Other notable wildlife sanctuaries include Kaimur Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhimbandh Wildlife Sanctuary and Gautam Buddha Wildlife Sanctuary.

Other species in Bihar include leopard, bear, hyena, bison, chital and barking deer. Crocodiles (including muggers) and Gangetic turtles can be found in the river systems. 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. Nagi Dam and Nakti Dam have been declared as bird sanctuaries.[63]

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.[68]

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.[69] 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.[70][71]

Hindi is the official language of the state.[6] Urdu is the second official language in 15 districts of the state.[7] Maithili (including its dialect Bajjika), Bhojpuri, Angika and Magahi are also widely spoken.[73][74] Maithili is a recognised regional language of India under the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.[75] Proponents have called for Bhojpuri and Magahi to receive the same status.[76]

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. Bihar has 12 municipal corporations, 49 nagar parishads (city councils), and 80 nagar panchayats (town councils).[77][78][79][80][81]

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".[82] 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".[83] 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), Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RLSP, National People's Equality Party), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM, Indian Peoples Front) and Janata Dal (United) (JD[U]); and a second alliance between Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD, National People's 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.[84] 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.[85]

Nitish Kumar has been chief minister of Bihar for 13 years between 2005 and 2020. In contrast to prior governments, which emphasized 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.[86] They also introduced Bihar Special Court Act to curb crime.[87] It also legislated a two-hour lunch break on Fridays, to enable Muslim employees to pray and thereby reduce absenteeism.[88] The government has prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol in the state since March 2016,[89] which has been linked to a drop in tourism[90] and a rise in substance abuse.[91]

Bihar generally ranks weakest in health outcomes in comparison to other Indian states.[92][93] While the National Health Mission, the Clinical Establishments Act of 2010, and the formation of the Empowered Action Group (EAG)[94] provide federal funds to expand and improve healthcare services, Bihar's ability to fully utilize this funding is lacking.[92][93]

Research indicates that Bihar relies on privatized 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.[92] These factors are associated with slower healthcare delivery and steep healthcare costs.[95][96][97][98] 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.[99] According to Ministry of Health statistics, the greatest shortfalls are for physicians and specialists at 75%.[92] 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.[99] Given the high population density of the state, Bihar is significantly behind in the number of healthcare professionals that should be employed.[100][99] Despite these shortcomings, Bihar has shown gradual signs of improvement for female health workers,[92] death rate, and infant, neo-natal, child and maternal morality rates.[92]

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.[104] 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 2004–05 to 2014–15.[105] Bihar's per capita income went up by 40.6% in FY 2014–15.[106] The state's debt was estimated at 77% of GDP by 2007.[107]

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.[105] 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.[108] The southern parts of the state endure annual droughts, which affect crops such as paddy.[109]

Hajipur, Dalmianagar and Barauni are the major industrial cities in Bihar[110] The capital city, Patna, is one of the better-off cities in India when measured by per capita income.[relevant? ][111]^

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,[112] 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[113] took over the Australian guard and mobile patrol services business of American conglomerate, United Technologies Corporation (UTC). SIS is registered and taxed in Bihar.[114][relevant? ]

Prior to prohibition, Bihar emerged as a brewery hub with numerous production units.[115] In August 2018, United Breweries Limited announced it would begin production of non-alcoholic beer at its previously defunct brewery in Bihar.[116][117]

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.[111]

Mithila Painting is also known as Madhubani art is a distinct type of painting style hailing from Mithila region of Bihar

There are several traditional styles of painting practiced in Bihar. One is Mithila painting, a style used in the Mithila region of Bihar. Traditionally, this form was practiced mainly by women, passed down generation to generation. Painting was usually done on walls during festivals, religious events, births, marriages, and other cultural milestones.[118] 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.[118]

The Patna School of Painting (Patna Salaam), 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 practiced 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.

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.[119] 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].[120][121]

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.[122][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.[123] Bhaiyaa, the first Magadhi film, was released in 1961.[124] The first Maithili movie was Kanyadan released in 1965.[125] Maithili film Mithila Makhaan won the National Film Award for Best Maithili Film in 2016.[126] 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.[127] 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.[128]

In 2001, Bhojpuri films regained popularity with Saiyyan Hamar ("My Sweetheart", directed by Mohan Prasad), which raised actor Ravi Kishan to prominence.[129] 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.[130] 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[131] and trade magazine Bhojpuri City.[132] The industry produces over one hundred films per year.[citation needed]

Hindu Goddess Sita, the consort of Lord Rama, is believed to have been born in Sitamarhi district in the Mithila region of modern-day Bihar.[133][134] 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. Vardhamana Mahavira, the 24th and last Tirthankara of Jainism, was born in Vaishali around the 6th century BC.[135]

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.[137] Hindi journalism often failed[138] until it became an official language in the state. Hindi was introduced in the law courts in Bihar in 1880.[137][139]

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

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.[140] 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.[137][141]

Bihar has two operational airports: Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport, Patna; and Gaya Airport.

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.[142]

The culture and heritage of Bihar can be observed from the large number of ancient monuments spread throughout the state. Bihar is visited by many tourists from around the world,[143] with about 24 million tourists visiting the state each year.[143]

In earlier days, tourism in the region was purely based on educational tourism, as Bihar was home of some prominent ancient universities like Nalanda and Vikramashila.[144][145][relevant? ]

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).[146] 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.[147] 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 )

A recent survey by Pratham rated the receptivity of Bihari children to their teaching as being better than those in other states.[148] Bihar is striving to increase female literacy, now at 53.3%. At the time of independence, women's literacy in Bihar was 4.22%.

In 1964 Bihar School of Yoga was established at Munger.[relevant? ]

Government colleges are located at Muzaffarpur, Bhagalpur, Gaya, Darbhanga, Motihari, Nalanda, and Saran (Chhapra). All institutes are recognised by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), affiliated with Aryabhatta Knowledge University (AKU). An eighth state engineering college began construction in December 2013 at Begusarai,[150][151] while two others are planned at Madhepura and Sitamarhi.[152][153][needs update]

Bihar established several new educational institutes between 2006 and 2008. BIT Mesra started its Patna extension centre in September 2006. On 8 August 2008, Indian Institutes of Technology Patna was inaugurated with students from all over India[154] In 2008, NSIT opened its new college in Bihta, which is now emerging as an education hub.[155][156] BCE, Bhagalpur, MIT, Muzaffarpur, and the (NIPER)[157] are in Bihar. On 4 August 2008, National Institute of Fashion Technology Patna was established as the ninth such institute in India.[158] Chanakya National Law University and Chandragupt Institute of Management were established in the later half of 2008. Steps are being taken to revive the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara as Nalanda International University. Countries such as Japan, Korea, and China have also taken initiatives. The A.N. Sinha Institute[159] of Social Studies is a premier research institute in the state.

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.[160]

Bihar has a National Institute of Technology (NIT) and an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Patna. The National Employability Report of Engineering Graduates, 2014,[161] 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.[162] As of December 2013, there are seven government engineering colleges in the public sector, and 12 engineering colleges in the private sector, besides government-aided BIT Patna and Women's Institute of Technology, Darbhanga. The overall annual intake of students of these technical institutes in Bihar is only 6,200.[163][164][165]

NIT Patna is the second oldest engineering college of India. Its origin can be traced to 1886, with the establishment of a survey training school, subsequently renamed Bihar College of Engineering in 1932. In 2004, the government of India upgraded the college to National Institute of Technology (NIT) status. In 2007, NIT Patna was granted Institute of National Importance status, in accordance with the National Institutes of Technology Act, 2007. The State Government is setting up an Information Technology (IT) City at Rajgir in Nalanda district.[166] Additionally, India's first Media Hub is also proposed to be set up in Bihar.[167][needs update]

Bihar has the (CIPET) and the Institute of Hotel Management (a central government unit) in Hajipur. The Central University of Bihar (CUB) is one of the sixteen central universities newly established by the Government of India under the Central Universities Act, 2009 (Section 25 of 2009). The university is temporarily located on the premises of the Birla Institute of Technology, Patna. The university is likely to be relocated to Panchanpur, approximately 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) from Gaya, on 300 acres (120 ha) of land to be transferred soon from the military. On 28 February 2014, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar laid the foundation stone.

In 2010 Government of Bihar established Bihar Agricultural University at Sabour in Bhagalpur district. It has ten colleges. Mahatma Gandhi Central University – also established under the Central Universities Act, and Amendment Act of 2014 – is situated in Motihari, the district headquarters of East Champaran district. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Patna was established in 2012. On 3 July 2013, chief minister Nitish Kumar laid foundation stone for a new campus of in Amara cillage, near Bihta township.[168] It was inaugurated in February 2018.[169] 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, Gaya, Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, Bhagalpur, Government Medical College, Bettiah and five private medical colleges[170]

In February 2019, deputy chief minister Sushil Modi announced the Bihar government's planned to establish 11 new medical colleges at Chhapra, Purnia, Samastipur, Bengusarai, Sitamarhi, Vaishali, Jhanjharpur, Siwan, Buxar, Bhojpur, Jamui and a dental college at Rahui in Nalanda district is under construction. There are also plans on constructing a cancer institute within Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences premises and transformation of Patna Medical College and Hospital into a world-class health centre.[171] In 2014 the government of Bihar established Development Management Institute in Bihta near the Patna.Nalanda University was re-established in 2014. In 2015, the central government had proposed re-establishment of Vikramshila in Bhagalpur and had designated 500 crores (5 billion rupees) for it.[172] The Indian Institute of Management Bodh Gaya was established in 2015. In 2016 the government of Bihar established Patliputra University, Munger University, Purnea University through Bihar state university bill. The government of Bihar established Bihar Animal Science University in 2017. It has three constituent colleges namely, Bihar Veterinary College, Sanjay Gandhi Institute of Dairy Technology (Patna) and College of Fisheries, Kishanganj.[173] The , was established in 2017. 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.[174]