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Location : Saran district, Bihar
Languages : Bhojpuri, Hindi
Area : 2641 square kilometers
Climate : Tropical: Summers are quiet hot and winters too cold.
Major Attractions : Chirand, Ashoka Pillar
Best Visiting Time : Months between November and March
Chhapra, a city located where Ganges and Ghaghra rivers mingle, is the bearer of Bhojpuri culture of Bihar. Associated with the fateful awakening of Ahilya Devi from stone by Lord Rama, the city attracts you by its cultural heritage. The place has found a mention in Ain-E-Akbari where Saran is described as one of the revenue divisions of the state.
History behind Name :
There are many theories that have been put forwarded from time to time and justify the logic behind the name "Saran" district. According to Lord Cunningham, the place got its name from an Ashoka pillar. Another reasoning is that it comprised of a vast forest and was inhabited by deer; hence was called Saranga Aranya. Written evidence related to the district belongs to ninth century.
Down the Lane :
Saran was initially a part of Koshal kingdom. The district, as a revenue division, became part of East India Company in late eighteenth century. It occupied a significant importance as a waterlink and served the refineries opened by French, English, and Dutch. In 1908, it was mingled into Tirhut Division. After independence, it was carved out as a standalone district.
Attractions In & Around :
Aami : This tourist attraction is located at 37 kilometers from Chapra. An ancient temple here is the main highlight of the place and is flanked by a lovely garden. A well is also located nearby and is popular as it does not dry in any season. The well is considered sacred and is frequented by pilgrims from different parts; in the month of Navratra, you can see that the place draws a big crowd.
Gautam Ashram : This sacred ashram is located at about 5 kilometers from the city. An ancient legend is associated with this temple according to which, Sage Gautam transformed his wife Ahalya into a piece of stone. The curse got broken when Lord Rama came here and touched the stone.
Silhauri : Another sacred place worth mentioning here is Silhauri that attracts a large number of devotees on occasion of Shivratri Fair.
Sonepur : It is a nagar panchayat and is famous for celebration of a fair organized in the month of Kartik Poornima. A temple dedicated to Hariharnath awards this place the sacred importance. Ceremonial bathing in the month of Kartik is the highlight of Sonepur. Temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and goddess Kali attracts the devotees who arrive here for paying obeisance to their gods.
Chirand : Flanked by Ghagra river in north, Chirand is a tourist destination lying at about 11 kilometers away from Chhapra. From the excavations done here, archeologists have gathered invaluable information regarding the ancient culture that existed here in ancient time. This civilization was dependent upon agrarian economy. People engaged themselves in activities like hunting, animal husbandry, and hunting.
Ashoka Pillar : The pillar is at a distance of 33 kilometers from Chhapra. It was at this place that Lord Buddha made a stop while on his journey to nirvana. The place is also associated with the conversion of a courtesan into a saint by Buddha. Today, it is visited by a large number of Buddhist followers from several parts of country.
Mahendar Nath Temple : Considered to be an abode of Lord Shiva, the temple has a natural shiva lingam. On every Monday, a fair is organized which has several shops selling toys, food items and other materials. Another grand festival is organized on mahashivratri; it is attended by lakhs of devotees.
Bareja : This village of Chhapra is related to struggle for independence. Girish Tiwari, who later became Bihar's education minister, was an eminent freedom fighter that belonged to Bareja. When India was under the subjugation of British, the village was inhabited by some rich zamindars.
Olhanpur : Here, you can see a mosque constructed by Shah Jahan, the Mughal Emperor and is known as Shahi Masjid.
Mubarakpur : Named after sufi saint Mubarakshah, this village has many buildings that you may find interesting to visit. The tomb of the saint, Roopkala Mandir, and house of Rameshwar Pandey (a renowned Hindi teacher) are worth visiting.
Important Personalities :
A number of renowned freedom fighters belonged to Chhapra. Jayaprakash Narayan, an eminent figure that played a crucial in struggle for independence. Ramavtar Sharma (a scholar), Katyayan Pramod (astrologer and a laureate), Bhikari Thakur (Bhojpuri poet), Sabita Singh (a judge in Massachusetts), Rajendra Prasad (first President of India) are a few other names that area associated with this land.
Retiring rooms at railway station and government-run rest houses form nice accommodations to you.
A visit to the city of Chhapra can let you know more about its Bhojpuri culture.