Vesali was one of the Buddha’s favourite resorts and he visited it on several occasions It was here that he had his famous encounter with the prostitute Ambapali, the incident is recounted in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta in The Long Discourses. Another discourse he delivered here is the long but interesting Mahasihanada Sutta from The Middle Length Discourses. According to the Mahayana tradition the famous Vimalakirtinedesa Sutra was preached here too.
About a hundred years after the Buddha’s Parinirvana the city was the venue for the Second Council where hundreds of monks from all over northern India met together to sell settle a dispute about Vinaya rules and to chant the suttas together. The main things to see today are the famous lion pillar, the museum, the large Kharauna Lake, the Japanese temple and the stupa built over the Vijjians’ one eighth share of the Buddha’s ashes.
The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm and closed on Friday. The only accommodation in Vesali is the very basic Government Tourist Bungalow but this will probably no be necessary as you can easily see everything in an hourMap or so. After finishing in Vesali you have two choices – to head for Kusinara or if wish to see rarely visited Buddhist holy places, to head further north to Kesariya and Lauriya Nandangar. If you intend to take this second alternative you’ll need a your own vehicle as public transport is erratic or non existent, and a lot of patience because the roads are dreadful.