Archaeological importance of Bihar
Hardly can any other state compete with Bihar in terms of archaeological remains and cultural heritage. Relics of almost all the ages and all the types are found in abundance in practically every part of the state. The archaeological eminence of Bihar is therefore unquestionable.
We have got the first ever Mesolithic habitational remains at Paisra (Munger). Then some of the finest prehistoric rock paintings have been explored out over the hills of Kaimur, Nawada and Jamui. It was for the first time that a Neolithic settlement was discovered in the thick of the alluvium, over the bank of the Ganga at Chirand, which was followed by several similar discoveries elsewhere. The stupas of Vaishali are significant, not only as they represent the earliest of the stupa architecture in India, but also for one of then contains the relics of Buddha. The sutpa at Kesaria is one of the tallest in the world, and of course one of the grandest. The unique Pillared Hall at Kumhrar (Patna), built by the Mauryas, remains quite an inimitable architectural wonder. At Barabar, were carved out the first set of rock-cut architectural caves, again under the Mauryas, which turned out to be a trendsetter in subsequent centuries, particularly in Western India.
Moreover, we have got the finest specimen of the stone-sculpted art in form of the Didarganj Yakshi, representing the classical art at its best. But then, we also have some of the finest specimens of the terracotta art-form, representing largely the folk tradition, from different parts of Patna and Buxar.
Then, there are the Gupta and later Gupta temples. One, rock-built and still quite extant, is at Mundeshwari. The brick-built ones are, however, best represented by the temples at Maniar Math (Rajgir) and Apsadh. All of these are quite unique in their planning and execution.
The massive monasteries and the Buddhist shrines of Nalanda and Vikramshila are unique owing to their massive dimensions and meticulous planning which, together, represent the best of the early medieval Buddhist architecture.
Bihar, moreover, was the cradle and epicenter of the famous early medieval Eastern Indian sculptural art-form, known as the Pala-Sene school of art. We have got best of the specimens from Gaya, Nawada, and Nalanda regions.
A host of mosques and tombs add to the variety of the medieval architecture of Bihar. Of these, Begu Hajjam's mosque (Patna City) is the earliest mosque of Bihar, built in the early part of the 16th century. Built in almost the same time, is the Sher Shah's tomb, which is one of the most distinguished architectural specimens of the medieval India.
Padari Ki Haweli (Patna City), a Roman Catholic Church, built in the late 18th century, is the high watershed of the European architecture in Bihar. Golghar, constructed in about the same time, is interesting particularly because of the fact that it was an adaptation of the classical Indian stupa architecture by the British Engineer. It is a granary structure, quite unparallel. Such has been the depth and variety of Bihar's archaeological remains that there still will remain several other outstanding monuments/ruins un-enumerated here, in want of space.
Archaeological Sites in Bihar