Vaishali today is a small village surrounded by banana and mango groves as well as rice fields. But excavations in the area have brought to light an impressive historical past. The epic Ramayana tells the story of the heroic King Vishal who ruled here. Historians maintain that one of the world's first democratic republics with an elected assembly of representatives flourished here in the 6th century B.C. in the time of the Vajjis and the Lichchavis. And while Pataliputra, capital of the Mauryas and the Guptas, held political sway over the Gangetic plain, Vaishali was the center for trade and industry.
Lord Buddha visited Vaishali frequently and at Kolhua, close by, preached his last sermon. To commemorate the event, Emperor Ashoka, in the third century B.C. erected one of his famous lion pillars here. A hundred years after the Mahaparinirvana of the Buddha - Vaishali hosted the second great Buddhist council. Two stupas were erected to commemorate this event. Jainism, too, has its origins in Vaishali, for in 527 B.C., Lord Mahavir was born on the outskirts of the city, and lived in Vaishali till he was 22. Vaishali is then twice blessed and remains an important pilgrim center for both Buddhists and Jains, attracting also historians foraging for the past. On the outskirts of Vaishali stood the grand double storied Buddhist monastery.
History of Vaishali
According to history,Viashali believed to got its name from King Vishal who belonged to the period of Mahabharat.During the 6th century BC,Vaishali was ruled by the Lichchavi clan. The another main feature of Lichchavi state is that it is considered to be the first republican state of Asia and it also takes the credit of being ruled by 7707 kings of the Lichchavi clan.Ajatshatru, the great Magadh King, annexed Vaishali in the fifth century BC and after that Vaishali gradually lost its glory and power. The reign of the Lichchavi empire was extended up to the hills of Nepal. This place has a ruined fort which was built by the King; Vishal.Vishal is a famous pilgrimage sport for it was here Lord Mahavira was born. The feature which adds up to the history of this place is that it was in Vishali Lord Buddha delivered his last sermon at Vaishali and declared his Nirvana and also the second Buddhist council was held in Vishali.
FAIRS AND FESTIVALS
The Vaishali Mahotsav which celebrates the birth anniversary of Lord Mahavira falls in the month of April. Asia’s largest cattle fair is held in the town of Sonepur which is situated at a distance of about 35 km from Vaishali.This is popularly known as the Harihar Kshetra Mela.