Set among bushland and surrounded by five rocky hills, each lined with vestiges of ancient cyclopean walls, is the ancient capital of the Magadha kingdom, known today as Rajgir. Thanks to both Buddha and Mahavira spending some serious time here, Rajgir is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and Jains. A mention in the Mahabharata also ensures that Rajgir has a good supply of Hindu pilgrims who come to bathe in the hot springs at the Lakshmi Narayan Temple.
For travellers, a couple of days spent exploring the many historic Buddhist sites around Rajgir and the ancient university site of Nalanda, 12km south of town, provides the perfect complement to Bodhgaya, 80km away.
Rajgir Mahotsava (24 to 26 October) is the town’s three-day cultural festival featuring Indian classical and folk music and dance.