Rajgir, place of the first Buddhist Council

The name Rajgir came from Rājagṛiha ‘house of the king’ or “royal house”, or the word rajgir might have its origin in its plain literal meaning, “royal mountain”. It was the ancient capital city of the Magadha kings until the 5th century BC when Udayin(460-440 BC), son of Ajatshatru, moved the capital to Pataliputra.

Rajgir, originally known as Girivraj is a city and a notified area in Nalanda district in the Indian state of Bihar.

The site is divided into Old and New Rajgir. The former lies within a valley and is surrounded by low-lying hills, Rajgir hills. The Rajgir Hills is an important Buddhist, Hindu and Jain pilgrimage site. The hills are sacred in both Buddhism and Jainism because of their association with the religions’ respective founders, the historical Gautama Buddha and Mahavira.

New Rajgir is defined by embankment outside the northern entrance of the valley and next to the modern town. It was here that Gautama Buddha spent several months meditating, and preaching at Gridhra-kuta, (‘Hill of the Vultures’). On one of the hills is the Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa.