PlacesBiharSharif, Bihar

Sharif, Bihar

Bihar Sharif, the headquarters of Nalanda district and the fifth-largest sub-metropolitan area in Bihar, is a city steeped in history and cultural richness. Its name, a combination of “Bihar” meaning monastery and “Sharif” meaning noble, reflects its heritage as a hub of education and trade in southern Bihar.

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    History of Bihar Sharif

    The roots of Bihar Sharif trace back to the pre-Islamic period when Odantapuri, a significant Buddhist monastic university, was built under the Pala Empire. The city flourished as part of a network of Mahaviharas, including Nalanda and Vikramashila. However, during the Delhi Sultanate era, the city faced destruction at the hands of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, who targeted Buddhist monasteries and universities.

    Under the Sherqui Dynasty, Bihar Sharif witnessed a shift in control, and later, during the reign of Sher Shah Suri, the regional capital moved to Patliputra (modern-day Patna). Despite losing administrative significance, Bihar Sharif continued to thrive, particularly as an educational and cultural centre.

    Geography of Bihar Sharif

    Bihar Sharif is strategically located 74 km from Patna, at the foot of Bari Pahari and along the Panchanan River. The fertile land surrounding the city supports agricultural trade, with crops like cauliflower, potato, and mustard seed contributing to the economy. The city’s proximity to tourist attractions like Nalanda, Rajgir, and Pawapuri further boosts its economic activities.

    Bihar Sharif Economy

    Agricultural trade and education form the backbone of Bihar Sharif’s economy. The region is renowned for its vegetable production, and household manufacturing of footwear and garments also contributes significantly. The city’s transition from a trade-based economy to an education hub has been noteworthy, with plans for further development under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Smart Cities Mission.

    Bihar Sharif Demographics

    As of the 2011 census, Bihar Sharif had a population of 297,268, with a sex ratio of 916 females per 1000 males. The city boasts a literacy rate of 75.30%, with Hindus forming the majority at 65.86%, followed by Muslims at 33.59%. The diverse religious composition reflects the city’s historical significance and cultural heritage.

    Religion in Bihar Sharif

    Bihar Sharif is a melting pot of religions, with Hindus forming the majority, followed by a significant Muslim population. Plans for the construction of a Bahá’í House of Worship highlight the city’s inclusive and diverse cultural fabric.

    Administration and Development

    Bihar Sharif has embraced modernization under the Smart Cities Mission, being one of the selected cities for development. The city’s administration, including the Town Police Station, reflects a commitment to child-friendly policing. Plans for infrastructure development, improved transport connectivity, and economic growth align with the vision of creating a smarter and more livable city.

    Transport available in Bihar Sharif

    The city is well-connected by road, with major national highways passing through, connecting Bihar Sharif to Patna and other key cities. Public transport, including state-owned bus services and the recently introduced intercity electric bus service, ensures seamless connectivity within the region. The Bihar Sharif Junction on the Bakhtiyarpur-Tilaiya railway line contributes to the city’s accessibility.

    Education Bihar Sharif

    Bihar Sharif takes pride in its educational institutions, with numerous colleges and schools catering to the intellectual development of its residents. The city’s rich history as a center of learning is complemented by modern educational facilities that contribute to its status as an emerging education hub.

    Media and Entertainment

    Diverse Newspapers: Bihar Sharif boasts a vibrant media landscape with Hindi dailies such as Dainik Jagran, Hindustan, and Dainik Bhaskar, providing local news. English-language newspapers like Times of India and The Hindu also contribute to the media spectrum.

    Historical Milestone: In 1872, Keshav Ram Bhatta, a Maharashtrian Brahman, pioneered Bihar Bandhu, the first Hindi newspaper from Bihar, adding a significant chapter to the city’s media history.

    Heritage and Important Sites

    Bihar Museum: Home to the first museum in Bihar, established in the late 19th century by Alexander Meyrick Broadley, Bihar Sharif proudly holds a collection of 686 artefacts. Though some pieces later moved to Patna Museum, the city’s heritage remains ingrained in these relics.

    • Pillar Inscriptions: The Bihar Sharif Pillar Inscriptions from the Gupta Empire, initially located in front of the northern gate of the fort, now find their place in the Patna Museum, showcasing the historical significance of the region.
    • Buddhist and Jain Heritage: With artefacts and relics from Buddhist and Jain heritage, Bihar Sharif connects to the roots of Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, who is believed to have attained Nirvana in Pawapuri. Nalanda College and the remains of Odantapuri add layers to the city’s cultural richness.
    • Baba Maniram Akhar Notable for the Langot Fair, this Akhara founded by Raja Biththal serves as a training ground for youth in combat, adding a dynamic aspect to the city’s cultural heritage.
    • Mausoleums and Shrines: The mausoleum of Syed Ibrahim Mallick Baya, the shrine of Sheikh Makhdoom Sharfuddin Ahmed Yahya Maneri, and Badi Dargah stand as testaments to the city’s spiritual and cultural diversity.

    Bihar Sharif’s Modern Attractions

    • Bihar Sharif Museum: “Virasat Bihar” houses relics and sculptures from various periods, predominantly from the Pala Empire. This museum, opened in 1979, provides a contemporary insight into the city’s archaeological wealth.
    • Vajra Vidya Phulahari Thrangu Monastery: Situated near Hiranya Parvat, this Buddhist monastery adds a touch of tranquillity to the city, showcasing its religious diversity.
    • Nagar Nigam Park: Developed by the Municipal Corporation, this park on Badi Pahadi offers a recreational space with fountains, cascades, and a children’s park.

    Bihar Sharif’s Events and Popular Culture

    • Annual Langot Fair and Urs: Celebrated events like the Langot Fair at Baba Maniram Akhara and the Urs or Annual “Chiraga” Fair reflect the city’s lively cultural calendar.
    • In Popular Culture: Bihar Sharif made its mark in popular culture through Director Prakash Jha’s National Award-winning documentary, Faces after Storms (1981), which explored the communal riots of May 1981.

    Bihar Sharif stands as a city with a rich tapestry of history, cultural diversity, and a promising future. From its ancient roots as a Buddhist centre to its modern role as an emerging educational hub, the city has embraced development under the Smart Cities Mission. With a blend of agriculture, education, and a commitment to inclusivity, Bihar Sharif thrives as a melting pot of religions and a symbol of unity. The city’s historical landmarks, vibrant media landscape, and modern attractions make it a unique destination. As Bihar Sharif continues its journey towards progress, it remains a city where tradition and innovation coexist, creating a harmonious blend that defines its identity.

    FAQs on Bihar Sharif

    What is Bihar Sharif known for historically?

    Bihar Sharif has a rich history, originally known for being a significant Buddhist center with the presence of Odantapuri, a Buddhist monastic university. Over time, it evolved as a hub of education and culture in southern Bihar.

    How did Bihar Sharif face destruction in its history?

    During the Delhi Sultanate era, Bihar Sharif faced destruction under the rule of Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji, who targeted Buddhist monasteries and universities.

    What is the main economic activity in Bihar Sharif?

    Bihar Sharif's economy is primarily driven by agricultural trade, with a focus on vegetable production. Additionally, education plays a crucial role in its economic activities.

    What is the population of Bihar Sharif according to the 2011 census?

    As of the 2011 census, Bihar Sharif had a population of 297,268 people.

    What is the literacy rate in Bihar Sharif?

    Bihar Sharif boasts a literacy rate of 75.30%.

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