Patna, also known Pataliputra is the capital of Bihar. Pataliputra was known as Pushpapur and Kusumpur in the earlier times, both of them means the city of flowers. Patali also means the trumpet flower. The city of Patna was founded by the Ajatshatru's son, Udayana. To Fa-hien, the Chinese traveler, who visited Pataliputra a century earlier, it looked so magnificent that he thought it must have been built by supernatural beings. Patna is situated at the confluence of Son, Punpun and Ganga rivers. It stretches along the southern banks of Ganga for about 15 km. Patna is also a convenient place to visit Nepal through a land route. Patna can be visited throughout the year, except from April to June, which are very hot.
The history of Patna can be traced back 2500 years ago. The ancient city of Patna was situated on a long strip of land, half a mile to the north of the Kumarhar village. King Ajatashtru, the second Magadha king built a small fort at Pataliputra. Later Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan Empire with its capital at Pataliputra. The Greek ambassador Megasthenes was also impressed by the emperor's administration efficiency and splendour of the city. The Ashok also usurped the throne of his father, Bindusara and started a reign of terror before converting to Buddhists in Patna. Ashok's palace extended from the mound called Chhoti Pahari to Kumarhar and it covered an area of 4 square miles. Bhikra Pahari, an artificial hill of brick debris, over 40 feet high and about a mile in circuit, on which stood the residence of one of the Nawabs of Patna, is identified as the hermitage-hill built by Ashoka for his brother Mahendra. In the Panchapahari are identified five great relic-stupas built by Ashoka. In the 16th century, the Sher Shah Suri revolted against the Mughal Emperor Humayun, who then ruled the region and established the foundations of new Patna and also built a mosque in 1540 which dominates the skyline.
What to see in Patna
Golghar: Alarmed by the famine of 1770, captain John Garstin built this huge granary for the British army in 1786. The massive structure is 29 m high and the walls are 3.6 m wide at the base. The winding stairway around this monument offers a brilliant panoramic view of the city and the Ganga flowing by.
Martyr's Memorial: A memorial to seven freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in the Quit India Movement of August 1942, the Martyr's Memorial is a modern sculpture facing the Secretariat, where they were shot in their attempt to host the national flag.
Har Mandir Takht: Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, was born in 1660 in Patna. The Har Mandir Takht, one of the four sacred shrines of the Sikhs, stands at this holy site. The original temple was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, and contains belongings of the Guru and Sikh holy texts.
Patna Museum: The Patna Museum houses a First World War cannon, metal and stone sculptures of the Mauryan and Gupta periods, Buddhist sculptures and quaint terracotta figures. A 16 m long fossilised tree is one of its special features.
Pathar ki Masjid: Adjacent to Har Mandir Sahib, on the bank of the Ganga, is this beautiful mosque built by Parwez Shah, son of Jehangir, when he was the governor of Bihar. It is also called Saif Khan's mosque, Chimmi Ghat mosque and Sangi Masjid.
Sher Shah Suri Masjid: Sher Shah Suri built this mosque in 1545 to commemorate his reign. Built in the Afghan architectural style, it is one of the many beautiful mosques in Bihar, and one of the impressive landmarks of Patna.
Khuda Baksh Oriental Library: Founded in 1900, a magnificent one man collection of rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Rajput and Mughal paintings, oddities like the Koran inscribed in a book only 25mm wide and an assortment of old and new books from the University of Cordoba, Spain. It is one of the national libraries in India. The library also contains the only books to survive the sacking of the Moorish University of Cordoba in Spain.
Jalan Museum: Built on the foundations of Sher Shah's fort, Qila House contains an impressive private collection of antiques, including a dinner service that once belonged to George III, Marie Antoinette's Sevres porcelain, Napoleon's four-poster bed, Chinese jade and Mughal silver filigree,.It is a private collection, and prior permission is required for a visit.