Jharkhand is one of the eastern states of India which has an agriculture-based economy. Uncertain and erratic distribution of precipitation as well as a lack of state water resources planning is the major limitation to crop growth in the region. In this study, the spatial and temporal variability in precipitation in the state was examined using a monthly precipitation time series of 111 years (1901–2011) from 18 meteorological stations. Autocorrelation and Mann–Kendall/modified Mann–Kendall tests were utilized to detect possible trends, and the Theil and Sen slope estimator test was used to determine the magnitude of change over the entire time series. The most probable change year (change point) was detected using the Pettitt–Mann–Whitney test, and the entire time series was sub-divided into two parts: before and after the change point. Arc-Map 9.3 software was utilized to assess the spatial patterns of the trends over the entire state. Annual precipitation exhibited a decreasing trend in 5 out of 18 stations during the whole period. For annual, monsoon and winter periods of precipitation, the slope test indicated a decreasing trend for all stations during 1901–2011. The highest variability was observed in post-monsoon precipitation (77.87 %) and the lowest variability was observed in the annual series (15.76 %) over the 111 years. An increasing trend in precipitation in the state was found during the period 1901–1949, which was reversed during the subsequent period (1950–2011).