Rajagriha means the house of the Kings. Many do not know that it was the first capital of the erstwhile kingdom of Magadha. It was much later that the capital shifted to Pataliputra. In fact, if some sources are to be believed, this was the Kingdom of Jarasandha in the times of Mahabharata. A journey of around three hours from Patna, Rajgir is one of those places with an immense potential as a tourist spot, but the apathy of the administration never allowed it to be counted as one. First of all, there is a serious lack of good hotels. The two government establishments are a perfect example of the decadence that results out of the apathy. The room that I stayed in was big enough for five-a-side football match while the bath could easily accommodate a double bed and yet, few would be ready to bring their families there. Not because the hotel fails to meet the standards but because the concerns for safety and security are not entirely misplaced.
There is an Archaeological Society of India site at Rajgir, history to much of India’s glorious past and a pilgrimage for both Buddhist and Jain scholars. Running short of time, it was difficult to go trekking on the inviting mountain slopes, but a walk down the near empty roads soaking in the beautiful scenery all around was enough for the eyes and the soul. Here, the stupa of Ajatashatru lies forgotten between shanties that have come up all around. Time never forgives anyone. He was the one responsible for the shift of the capital from this city while keeping his father Bimbisara captive here. However, I shall have to come back again in order to climb the mountains to Gridhhakuta (Vulture’s peak) and Saptaparni, the site of the first Buddhist Council.
Sawan is an important month in these parts of the world, but more about that in another post maybe. Rajgir is also famous for its hot water springs, within the deep kunds of the Laxmi Narayan Temple. And immersed in water in the warm waters of the kund is where the title of my post originates.
I am thankful, Rajgir has been forgotten by the city dwellers and holiday package tour guides. Still it remains one of those places where the poor and the homeless can come without fear for their rendezvous with the Gods. And unlikely many others, here it’s not yet a pilgrimage for the rich, perhaps because the rich will not take the pains of travelling the unchartered territories.
The Kund still pours out the hot water like they have done for ages and people of every class of life takes a dip in that water, believing that it washes away their misdeeds. We live today, in hope for a better afterlife.
The kund quietly gurgles washing away the filth of the human mind. Everyone gets out and goes back to live the life they have always led, safe in the thought that redemption came about without a price tag.
(Picture courtesy: wiki)