There is a growing trend among Indian urbanites to travel around the world to explore different nations and their cultures. However, many of them tend to ignore different parts of their own country. Filled with its diverse cultural heritage and rich history, India is a treasure trove for travellers. Among other areas, eco-tourism is a growing phenomenon. It not only exotic and picturesque, but it is also a place of understanding the history and geography of the land.
The Eastern Indian state of Bihar, known as Magadha erstwhile was once a seat of top dynasties of mediaeval India which ruled the country- be it Mauryas, Guptas, or the Sungas. It depicted the valour of the emperors on the throne, the cultural richness of the region as well as the religious practices followed. Education also flourished during this period. A lot of foreign philanthropists also visited Magadha. One of them Hyuen Tsang mentioned about the oldest university for all occidental studies-Nalanda.
Bihar boasts of places with Archeological, Historical and Geological Delights in and around Rajgir, Gaya, Barabar and Nagarjuni Hills, Gehlaur, Jehanabad belt. The geo-tourism transects encompassing the Gaya-Rajgir volcano-sedimentary belt and associated magmatic complex is a novel litho stratigraphic package situated on the northern fringe of Chotanagpur Gneissic Complex (CGC).
At the northern face of Rajgir, along with all its antiquities, lies the recently explored volcano-sedimentary sequence by GSI which is a hotspot for rare geological features and has been proposed to be preserved as a National Geological Monument. It exhibits some of the best-exposed pillow basalt and associated assemblages with geological relevance. Pyroclastic rocks and Banded Iron Formations are added attractions.
Apart from these, there are also many Hot springs like Tapovan, Agnikund and Brahmakund near Rajgir which have a geological origin and are a tourist delight.
The Chariot mark within phyllite has a mythological essence to it with a plausible geological explanation.
Excellent exposures of pillow basalt are at Churi, Gulni and Jagannathpur. Preservation of hillock at Churi village- renders it a Geo-archaeological heritage. The magmatic suite of rocks comprising Barabar-Nagarjuni Magmatic Complex (BNMC) host the titaniferous magnetite ore bodies associated with a gabbro-anorthosite suite of rocks. The Ghorakatora Lake situated in the picturesque core of antiformal closure of Rajgir fold is another geological spectacle. Surrounded by small hills, the lake looks picturesque and makes for an ideal spot for witnessing the textbook type structural features.
Around Rajgir, lies the ruins of Nalanda University, Vishwa Shanti stupa made out of stucco, stone and metals and is already included in the World Heritage Sites which will have immense international relevance.
Mauryan sculptures and images in granites and basalt the 80 ft high statue of Lord Buddha and innumerable tales associated with the place are just some of the many attractions.
The Barabar and Nagarjuna hills hosting manmade caves are the glorifying examples of medieval architecture and one of its kind in the country. The caves have been fashioned with the finest architecture prevailing during those times and carry antiquities, relics and inscriptions of the rich historical past engraved in the granite rocks of the caves.
The rock engravings in Granite at Kauadol are some of the best-preserved arts of those times. The deities, their lifestyle, culture, religion, worship and much more reflect the sculptor’s brilliance in depicting stories in stones. The transect highlighting “geo-tourism” in the state of Bihar is a perfect example of how geological ground expressions can be clubbed with internationally acclaimed archaeological sites.
Rarely one finds a geological finding so suitably placed in the historical domain as this proposed site. Roughly falling between Gaya, Bodh Gaya and Rajgir, Nalanda, the excursion area is undoubtedly the hub of tourists from all parts of the country and globe for its historical and cultural importance. This adds an unparalleled flavour to the site, giving it the well-deserved aesthetic value and a distinction of an important geo-tourist centre.