The modern city of Patna (Bihar's state capital) is perhaps the world's largest riverine city. Its recorded history goes back to 500 BC. and its origins are closely related to the risePatna City and fall of the Magadhan Empire. The core of the kingdom was the area south of the Ganges in Bihar. Its ﬁrst capital was Rajagriha (modern Rajgir) then Pataliputra (modern Patna). Magadha expanded to include most of Bihar and Bengal with the conquest of Licchavi and Anga, respectively, followed by much of eastern Uttar Pradesh and Orissa. Bihar further ﬂourished under the Mauryan Dynasty. Chandragupta Maurya and his son Bindusara held sway over a vast empire, which stretched from Bengal to Afghanistan.
The Ganges, then navigable throughout the year, was the principal river highway from Delhi to Bengal. From the river ports of Patliputra (Patna) and Champa, (near Bhagalpur) Mauryan vessels sailed as far as Sri Lanka and Java. Emperor Ashoka (Chandragupta's grandson) who ruled from 273 to 232 BC was one of India's most illustrious rulers. With his conquest of Kalinga, maritime trade along the Ganges reached its apogee.
Pataliputra has always been famous; both in recorded history, and prior to that in the realm of Hindu religious literature and ﬁction. It has always been a part of Hindu legend, and its sobriquet has often been attributed to its association with the Hindu goddess - Patan Devi. The Greek historian Megasthenes and the Chinese explorer Fa-Hien, have both included vivid accounts of the city in their travelogues. Most of the liturgical Hindu texts which include the Puranas and the great epics are said to carry references to the city. Almost every dynasty in north India, which included latter day kingdoms such as the Moguls, Sikhs and Nawabs of Bengal fought for control over this area. Even before the British ﬁnally established their suzerainty over most princely states in North India, the decisive Battle of Buxar (1764) established the foothold of the East India Company here, which ﬁnally led to British hegemony over the Northern provinces. It was ruled during the Raj era by a series of Viceroys, and today some of the ostentatious public buildings in Patna still bear a testimony to imperialistic arrogance.
Patna, as we know, is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, with a History of over 3,000 years. The rich cultural heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments that are found all over the region. Patna is home to many tourist attractions and around 2.5 million tourists visit Patna every year. The documented history of tourism in the Patna region dates back to 300 BC. Greek geographer Megasthenes (ca. 350–290 B.C) visited the region during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. His observations were recorded in Indika. His son Dionysius also visited Patliputra during the reign of king Ashoka. Fa-Hsien (ca. 337 - ca. 422) the Chinese tourist and biographer also travelled to this region to acquire Buddhist scriptures, which he later took back to China. Hieun-Tsang visited the sacred Buddhist sites in Magadha and spent much of his time as a student of the Nalanda University between 629 and 645. In the early days of travel, tourism in the region was purely for educational purposes. But slowly Patna developed into one of the most important religious circuits in India with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam, proliferating in one place.
Archaeological remains of the Mauryan period (322–185 BC) have been discovered here, these include the ruins of an 80-pillared hall. The excavations here date back to 600 BC and mark the site of the ancient capital city of Ajatshatru, Chandragupta and Ashoka. The artifacts prove that the site was continuously inhabited from 600
B.C to 600 A.D.
Yakshi Statue in the Patna museum is one of the ﬁnest examples of Mauryan art.
Meaning "unfathomable well", this is said to date back to the period of Emperor Ashoka's reign. The well is located in the east of Patna.
Chausagarh In Buxar
This is where Sher Shah defeated the Mughal emperor Humayun in 1539 AD.
In Patna city, is a temple dedicated to the monkey king Lord Hanuman. Millions of pilgrims visit the temple every year. It is the second most-visited shrine in North India.
The sacred temple is one of the 51 Siddha Shakti Pithas in India. According to Puranic legends, the right thigh of Sati had fallen here when it was severed by Lord Vishnu with his celestial weapon Sudarshan Chakra. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga.
Patna State Museum
This excellent museum contains metal and stone artifacts dating to the Mauryan (3rd century BC) and the Gupta periods. Terracotta ﬁgurines, weapons and archaeological ﬁnds from sites like Nalanda are also on display here. The museum has a separate section where rare Chinese and Tibetan paintings and scriptures can be accessed. The museum is closed on Mondays.
Gurdwara Gobind Ghat
It is where the tenth Sikh guru and his playmates used to frolic on the banks of the Ganges. This is just 200 yards from the Harmandir Saheb Gurdwara.
Pathar Ki Masjid
This mosque on the banks of the Ganges is very close to the Takht Shri Harmandir Saheb. Jahangir's son Parvez Shah established this mosque in 1621.
Overlooking the Maidan, the huge bee hive shaped Golghar was built in 1786 by Captain John Garstin at the insistence of the British administrator Warren Hasting following a terrible famine in 1770. It stands about 25 metres tall and provides a ﬁne view of Patna city and the Ganges.
Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan
Although most Indian zoos are in a pathetic state, a visit to the Patna zoological garden might well be worth a visit, especially to escape the chaos of the city.
Khudabaksh Oriental Library
Founded in 1900, this library has an extensive collection of rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Moghul and Rajput paintings and curiosities like a Koran inscribed in a book that is only an inch wide. The library also contains a few books rescued from the sack of the Moorish University of Cordoba in Spain.
Mahatma Gandhi Setu
With a length of 5450 meters, it is one of the longest bridges in the world. Prior to the construction of this bridge, people who wanted to go to North Bihar, had to cross the river using country boats or steamers or take the longer rail route. The State Tourism Department is trying hard to popularise the ghats along the Ganges in Patna as a major tourist attraction. Motor boats have therefore been made available for river cruising, and a lucky tourist may be able to spot the rare and near extinct Gangetic dolphin. The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation (BSTDC) has recently started operating an air-conditioned ﬂoating restaurant MV Ganga Vihar from the Gandhi Ghat offering dinner cruises.
Other Activities Sonepur Mela
Just across the Mahatma Gandhi Setu (22 km from Patna) is the little town of Sonepur. A month long cattle fair is held here every October-November, culminating at the full moon night of the Hindu festival of Kartik Purnima. At one point of time even elephants were bought and sold here.
Thousands of gaily dressed devotees make offerings to the Sun God on the banks of the Ganges in Patna. The thousands of ﬂoating lamps released into the river make a spectacular sight.
It is one of the largest planetariums in Asia. It was dedicated to the nation and opened to public on April 1, 1993.
Around Patna Nalanda
Located 95 km from Patna, Nalanda was a great Buddhist centre and one of the most important centres of learning in the ancient world. Both Buddha and Mahavira patronised it. In the early 7th century AD there were around ten thousand monks and students in residence. The ruins here are extensive and include the great stupa with steps. An archaeological museum houses sculptures and other artifacts found on the site. An international centre for the study of Buddhism was established here in 1951.
There are a number of shopping complexes in Patna that offer excellent bargains. You can begin your voyage of discovery at the Maurya Lok Complex, Hathua Market or the Patna Market where you can indulge in some subsidised local shopping. The outlets of Khadi Gramudyog (based on the Gandhian values of self-reliance) and The Bihar Handloom and Handicrafts Emporium are the best places to shop for traditional handicrafts.
Created by the women of Mithila District, Madhubani Paintings, Which are indigenous to the state, have a large international market. Mythological and religious events are etched in primary colours on paper and cloth.
Sujini And Khatwa Embroidery
More popular in rural Bihar, a traditional Sujini quilt is made with layers of cloth. Old clothes are used for the inner stufﬁng and colourful thread is used for the embroidery. The embroidery is done entirely in running stitches. The Sujini quilts depict village life and religious scenes such as brides in palanquins, peacocks dancing boys flying kites etc.
Ood Inlay And Lacquer Ware
One of Bihar's most ancient craft practices, inlay work is executed using different materials; metal, ivory and stag-horn are the most popular. Artists create wall hangings, trays, and a number of utility articles with inlay work and lac. In Bihar, lac has been used to manufacture jewellery boxes and bangles since time immemorial.
Blades of grass are hand- woven into delightful baskets and mats. These are usually gifted to brides during marriages.