Vaishali was the capital city of the Licchavi, one of world's first republics, in the Vajjian Confederacy (Vrijji) mahajanapada, around the 6th century BC. It was here in 599 BCE the 24th Jain Tirthankara, Bhagwan Mahavira was born and brought up in Kundalagrama in Vaiśālī republic, which makes it a pious and auspicious pilgrimage to Jains. Also Gautama Buddha preached his last sermon before his death in ca 483 BCE, then in 383 BCE the Second Buddhist council was convened here by King Kalasoka, making it an important place in both Jain and Buddhist religions.
At the time of the Buddha, Vaiśālī, which he visited on many occasions, was a very large city, rich and prosperous, crowded with people and with abundant food. There were 7,707 pleasure grounds and an equal number of lotus ponds. Its courtesan, Amrapali, was famous for her beauty, and helped in large measure in making the city prosperous. The city had three walls, each one gāvuta away from the other, and at three places in the walls were gates with watch towers. Outside the town, leading uninterruptedly up to the Himalaya, was the Mahavana, a large, natural forest. Nearby were other forests, such as Gosingalasāla.
The city finds mention in the travel accounts of Chinese explorers, Faxian (4th century CE) and Xuanzang (7th century CE), which were later used in 1861 by British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham to first identify Vaiśālī with the present village of Basrah in Vaishali District, Bihar