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Girivraja – Capital Of Magadha In The Mahabharata

Girivraja is an ancient town with episodic references in the Mahabharata. It was the capital of Magadha, when Jarasandha was the ruler. About fifteen kilometers to the south of the ancient university of Nalanda and 102 kilometers southwest of Patna in Bihar, lies the small town called Rajgir, which was called Girivraja during the period of Mahabharata.

The origin of Girivraja is mentioned in the Bala Kanda (Sarga 32) of Valmiki Ramayana. King Pusa of Puru dynasty had four sons is Vaidarbhi – Vasu, Kusamba, Kusanbha and Asurtarajas. Each of the sons built a city of their own and ruled it. Girivraja was the magnificent city built by Vasu.

Located amidst small hills, the second Pandava, fought a duel with Jarasandha on the advice of Sri Krishna and Arjuna. The two Pandavas, as guided by Sri Krishna, had reached Girivraja disguised as Brahmins to eliminate Jarasandha in order to ensure that Yudhisthira performed the famous Rajasuya Yagna without any hindrance.

In Girivraja there is still a place called Jarasandh ka Akhada where, according to local legend, the wrestling bout between Jarasandha and Bhima took place. It is claimed that so much milk was mixed in the soil of the wrestling ring to make it soft that the soil still retains a whitish color.

Girivraja was prominent till the times of Mahavira and Buddha. It was here at Griddhrakutat Hill where Buddha made king Bimbisara embrace Buddhism. Buddha had spent many years here, enlightening the masses. The first Buddhist Council, following the mahaparinirvana of Buddha, was held here at Saptaparni Cave. Mahavira, the Jaina Tirthankara, had also spent many years here.

Girivraja is noted for its hot springs at the foot of Vaibhara Hill. The mineral water of these springs is highly prized, owing to its curative properties. The Japanese Buddha Sangha has built at magnificent Vishwa Shanti stupa on top of the hill.