Patna is the capital of the state of Bihar and is situated on the southern bank of the holy river, Ganges. The dusty and crowded city of Patna, as we see it today, was once upon a time, the most esteemed seats of power and learning in ancient India, being the capital of the mighty Magadh and Mauryan empires. Even today, there exist many interesting monuments here that remind one of the rich past of this city. The history of the city dates back to 2,500 years ago when it was founded on the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Sone, Punpun and Gandak by the Magadhan king, Ajatshatru, who named it Pataligram. Later, the city was given names such as Kusumpur, Pataliputra, and finally Patna. The glory of Patna started with the Mauryan emperor, Chandragupta who made Pataliputra the capital of his empire, extending from the Gangetic plains to the area which is Afghanistan today. The city reached the zenith of its glory during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, a follower of Buddhism and one of the great kings of India. The city was the centre of power till the end of the Gupta period, after which it started languishing continuously, for a long period. It was revived with the coming of Sher Shah to the seat of Delhi after which the city became the capital of the Bengal province. In the initial days of the East India Company, Patna served as the main warehouse for the hugely profitable opium business with China. Much of its erstwhile glory no longer remains today, yet recent excavations at Kumhrar have unearthed some interesting structures. Patna is also the main gateway to famous Buddhist sites like Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali.
• Area 107.08 sq. km
• Population 956,717
• Altitude 53 metres above the sea level
• Languages Hindi, English
• Best Time to Visit October to March
• STD Code 0612
Tourist Attractions in Patna
Shershah Masjid was built here by Sher Shah Suri, an Afghan chieftain, when he became the ruler of Delhi. It is a beautiful mosque constructed in pure Afghani style. Excavations at Kumhrar have unearthed parts of the ancient Mauryan city of Pataliputra. Har Mandir Temple which is the next most important pilgrimage for Sikhs following the Golden Temple at Amritsar is also located here. Golghar, originally built as a granary by the British, has now become one of the most popular tourist spots of the city. The Jalan Museum showcases an excellent collection of silver and jade filigree work belonging to the Mughal period. The Bihar Institute of Handicraft and Design is making attempts to revive old crafts of the state.
Tourist Attractions around Patna
Being a part of the ancient Buddhist centre of East India, Patna is the focal point of many important places around it. Bodhgaya was the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and it is the most important Buddhist pilgrimage throughout the world. Gaya is famous as a Hindu pilgrimage and can be related to many legends in Hindu mythology and religious literature. Nalanda is renowned for having been, at one point of time, home to one of the largest universities in the world. Vaishali is a place of historical and religious importance both for Buddhists as well as Jains. Sasaram was the home of Sher Shah. Rajgir which can be linked to all the three ancient religions of India; Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism; is considered to be the little Jerusalem of India. Sonpur, which is situated on the confluence of the rivers of Ganga and Gandak, hosts the largest cattle fair in Asia.