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History and Geography
Bihar finds mention in the Vedas, Puranas, epics, etc., and was the main scene of activities of Buddha, and 24 Jain Tirthankars. Great rulers of the State before the Christian era were Bimbisar, Udayin, who founded the city of Pataliputra. Chandragupta Maurya and Emperor Ashoka and Maurya dynasty, the Sungs and the Kanvas. Then came the Kushan rulers followed by Chandragupta Vikramaditya of the Gupta dynasty. Muslim rulers made in-roads into the territory during medieval period. The first conqueror of Bihar was Mohammed- bin-Bakhtiar Khalji. The Tughluqs and then the Mughals followed the Khaljis.
One of the major states of the Indian Union, Bihar is bounded on the north by Nepal, on the east by West Bengal, on west by Uttar Pradesh and on the south by Jharkhand. Bihar has a number of rivers, the most important of which is the Ganga. The other rivers are the Sone, Poonpoon, Falgu, Karmanasa, Durgawati, Kosi, Gandak, Ghaghara, etc.
Bihar has a total geographical area of about 93.60 lakh hectare, out of which only 56.03 lakh hectare is the net cultivated area and gross cultivated area being 79.46 lakh hectare. About 33.51 lakh hectare net area and 43.86 lakh hectare gross area receive irrigation from different sources. Principal food crops are paddy, wheat, maize and pulses. Main cash crops are sugarcane, potato, tobacco, oilseeds, onion, chillies, jute and roselle. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 sq. km, which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area.
Major Industries are: Railway Wagon Plants of Bharat Wagon Limited at Muzaffarpur and Mokamah; Oil Refinery of Indian Oil Corporation at Barauni; Fertilizer Manufacturing Plant of HPCL
at Barauni and PPCL
at Amjhor; Cotton Spinning Mills at Siwan, Pandaul, Bhagalpur, Mokamah and Gaya; 13 sugar mills in private sector and 15 in the public sector located in south and north Bihar with a total crushing capacity of 45,000 TPD. In addition, distilleries at Gopalganj, West Champaran, Bhagalpur and Riga (in Sitamarhi district); Finished Leather Industry in West Champaran, Muzaffarpur and Barauni; Jute Mills at Katihar and Samastipur; Medicine Manufacturing Unit at Hajipur; Food Processing Units as also Vanaspati Manufacturing Units at Aurangabad and Patna; besides Kalyanpur Cement Limited at Banjari, are notable in the industrial map of Bihar.
Bihar has an irrigation potential of 28.63 lakh hectares. It is created through major and medium irrigation schemes and 48.97 lakh hectares through minor irrigation schemes.
Roads: Up to March 2008, Bihar had 45721.059 km of pucca roads including 3734.38 km of national highways and 3766.029 km of state highways, 7992.65 km of major District Roads, 2828.00 km. of other District Roads and 27400 km. of Rural Roads.
Railways: Bihar has a fairly good railway network. There is a railway bridge at Mokamaha in north Bihar. A few railway routes connecting important places like Muzaffarpur-Samastipur-Barauni-Katihar and Muzaffarpur-Chapra-Siwan have been converted into broad gauge. The main rail junctions are at Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Katihar and Samastipur, etc.
Aviation: There is an international airport at Patna, besides landing grounds in all major districts of the State.
Ruins of Nalanda
Important places of tourist interest are Rajgir, Nalanda, Vaishali, Pawapuri (where Lord Mahavira breathed his last and attained Nirvana), Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila (ruins of Buddhist University of higher learning), Gaya, Patna (ancient city of Patliputra), Sasaram (tomb of Shershah Suri) and Madhubani (known for its famous Madhubani Paintings).
Mundeshwari Mandir (Kaimur), Rohtras Garh Fort (Rohtas), Jain Pilgrim Place, Kundalpur (Nalanda), Bihar School of Yoga (Munger), Manersharif Patna, Rural Tourist Place Nepura (Nalanda), Kesaria Stupa (East Champaran), Barabar Hills (Jehanabad) and Lauria Nandangarh are also important tourist places.