Kasi or Varanasi is one of the most ancient, famous and holiest of the pilgrim centers. It is situated between two small streams that flow into the river Ganges, Varana on its northern border and Asi (or Assi) on its southern border, from whom it derives its name Varanasi. The name Kasi is derived from either its original founder or a dynasty that ruled it or the kingdom with which it was associated. According to another theory the place might have got its name from a grass named Kusa that grew wildly in the region where the city was built.
Patna is the centre of political activities of Bihar as well as the commercial hub of Bihar. The famous sacred GANGA RIVER flows west to east across it .Patna's most remarkable Mahatma Gandhi Setu is built upon the Ganges, which is one of the longest bridges in the world at 7.5 Km ,crosses the Ganges 5 Km west of the city centre. Patna is pretty densely populated.
The Buddhist, Hindu and Jain pilgrim centres of Vaishali, Rajgir (or Rajgriha), Nalanda, Bodhgaya and Pawapuri are nearby and Patna is also a sacred city for Sikhs. It is the ideal gateway for all the places on this circuit. The monuments in and around the city take one down the history to its glorious past.
The word 'Nalanda' has been derived from Na-Alam-Da, which means 'insatiable in giving', one of the names by which Lord Buddha was known. One of the major Buddhist pilgrimage sites, Nalanda is also known for the ruins of the world famous ancient learning centre. With the nearest habitation at the village of Bargaon, Nalanda is though now a deserted place, but still is very important to the history of Buddhism and Jainism(The Teerthankar Mahavira got moksha near Nalanda at Pawapuri).