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Bihar map Bihar
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In the north, Bihar is a fertile, alluvial plain, the Gangetic Valley; and a rocky, incredibly mineral rich plateau in the south, the Chhotanagpur Plateau- Bihar. The northern plain of this state extends from the foothills of the Himalayas in the north to a few miles south of the river Ganges as it flows through the State from the west to the east. The Chhotanagpur plateau occupies roughly 1/3rd of the south, extending up to the southern border with Orissa. The southern plateau is among the world's richest source of mineral. In the north, rich farmland and lush orchards extend throughout .

Crops: Paddy, wheat, lentils, sugarcane, jute (hemp, related to the marijuana plant, but a source of tough fibers and "gunny bags".) Also, cane grows wild in the marshes of West Champaran.

Fruits: Mangoes, banana, jack fruit and litchis. This is one the very few areas outside China which produces litchi. There is very little industry in the plain region except for the sugar factories that are scattered all over the northern plains, particularly in the western region. Jute is transported to the jute factories located mostly in Calcutta.

Minerals: Coal, iron ore, bauxite, copper, and mica. For mica, Bihar is perhaps the only source, confined mostly to the districts of Hazaribagh and Giridih. This mineral was valuable in the manufacture of windshields for airplanes and automobiles due to its transparent and non-shattering property. With the invention of synthetic materials, the commercial value of mica has declined.

Bihar is the single most important source for coal, iron ore and bauxite in India. The south is also a forested area. People belonging to many tribal groups live in the forests of Chhotanagpur and Santhal Parganas. Among the wildlife, notable are: deer, bears, numerous species of birds, including the peacock, pheasant, and wild fowl, and most notably, the tiger. The forest around Hazaribag is one of the last remaining refuge of this highly endangered species. The forests of Bihar yield valuable commercial products besides the timber. Leaves of some trees are used in the manufacture of an indigenous product for smoking, i.e., the bidi. A resinous material secreted by the lac insect is valuable commercially. It is the source of shellac. Also, bangles made of lac are very popular among women of Bihar. The silkworm is the source of magnificent silk - characteristically, the tusser or tussah silk. The majestic banyan tree (Ficus bengalensis), and the related pipal (Ficus religiosa), dot the entire landscape of the State.

Hindi is by far the most common language of the state, understood by all. There is a significant number of Benagli speaking people also. They are descendants of the settlers from the old British Presidency of Bengal. English is the language of commerce and is spoken by the educated masses. As over much of India, a combination of Hindi and English (sarcastically dubbed "Hinglis") is the language in the homes of middle-class Biharis.

In addition people speak many dialects in different regions. The major dialects are: Bhojpuri, Magahi and Maithili. Bhojpuri is spoken in the districts of Champaran (East and West), Saran, and Shahabad. Magahi is the dialect of Central Bihar, i.e., the districts of Patna, Gaya and Bihar. Maithili, and its variants, is the dialect of the people in the north-east, i.e., the districts of Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Saharsa, Purnia and Bhagalpur.

Of all the dialects and languages, only Maithili can be classified as a distinct and uniquely Bihari language. It has a very old literature of its own. (Hindi, as a distinct literary form, came about only very recently - towards the turn of this century.) The famous poet, Vidyapati, of medieval Bihar, was the composer of lyrical poems in Maithili. These songs are devoted to the worship of Lord Krishna and Shiva. Shrimati Vindhyabasini Devi is a current exponent of the songs of Vidyapati.

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