Bihar Sharif is the headquarters of Nalanda district and the fifth-largest sub-metropolitan area in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. Its name is a combination of two words: Bihar, derived from Buddha vihara, also the name of the state; and Sharif for the resting place of Sufi saint Sheikh Sharfuddin Yahya Maneri.
The city is a hub of education and trade in south Bihar, and the economy centers around agriculture supplemented by tourism and household manufacturing.
Under the Pala Empire, a major Buddhist monastic university was built at the site of Bihar Sharif. It eventually became the capital of Magadha, and then part of the Muslim Delhi Sultanate in the late 12th century, though local Rajputs soon re-established effective control. In the early 14th century, it was permanently captured by the Delhi Sultanate. Bihar Sharif was later ruled by other Muslim dynasties and then the British until Indian independence in 1947. The city has important Jain, Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim heritage and landmarks.