SET INS THE LUSH green landscrape of north Bihar, dotted with groves of banana and litchi trees, Vaishali is an important religious site. Mahavim, founder of the Jain faith  is said to have been horn here in 599 BC. It is also the place where the Buddha preached his last sermon . In the 6th century BC, Vaishali was a flourishing city under the Lichhavi rulers who established one of the world’s first city republics here. A wellpreserved Mauryan Stone Pillar, dating from the 3rd century BC, with a life-size lion sitting atop it, is located 4 km (2.5 miles) west of the Tourist Lodge.

Close to the pillar is the Ramlumd Tank, also known as the Monkey l ank, which is now a stagnant pond. According to legend, it was dug by monkeys, who offered the hungry Buddha a bowl of honey here  a scene often depicted in Buddhist sculpture and painting. Also near the pillar, are the ruins of a 5th-century BC brick stupa. It is believed to have been built by the Lichhavi rulers soon after the Buddha’s death to enshrine his ashes, Ongoing excavations have revealed the brick foundations of various L other stupas. In 1996, Japanese Buddhists built a temple and a huge white Vishwa Shanti Stupa (“World Peace Stops”), re-establishing Vaishali on the Buddhist pilgrimage circuit.

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