Home > India at a Glance > East India > Bihar > Patna

State Bihar
District(s) Patna
Coordinates 25.35° N 85.12° E
Area 3,202 km²
Elevation 53 m
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Population (2001) 1.2 million
Density 375/km²
Postal 800 0xx
Telephone +0612
Vehicle BR-01-?

Patna, the capital city of Bihar, is a historical city, which has like Delhi, experienced the trauma and pain of being conquered. The heritage of Patna or Pataliputra as it was known, goes back to two millennia. This city was the seat of administration for many rulers and each of them ascended with a new name for their capital.
Kusumpura became Pushpapura, Patliputra, Azeemabad and now Patna. Pataliputra was the capital of Magadha, a kingdom, which dominated and influenced the politics of India for a long time. Located on the banks where rivers Sone and Ganga merge, this city has witnessed the rules of Chanakya, Chandragupta, Ashoka and the Nanda rulers.

Patna is the capital of the Indian state of Bihar, and one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world.Megasthenes(350 BC-290 BC),in his book Indica has mentioned 'The city of Palibothra( Patliputra,modern day Patna) was situated on the confluence of the rivers Ganges and Arennovoas (Sonabhadra - Hiranyawah)and was 9 miles long and 1.75 miles wide.

The modern city of Patna lies on the southern bank of the Ganges, as it flows past with the combined waters of the rivers Ghagra, Son and Gandak. At the point where the city is located, the sacred Ganges looks more sea than river: mighty, wide and never-ending.

A bustling city of 1,200,000 people, the city is approximately 15 km long and 5 km to 7 km wide.

The Buddhist and Jain pilgrim centres of Vaishali, Rajgir or Rajgriha, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, and Pawapuri are all nearby. Patna is a sacred city for Sikhs also. Their tenth and last "human" guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was born here. It is the ideal gateway for all the places on this circuit. The monuments in and around the city take one down the history to its glorious past.

Apart from being the administrative centre of the state and its historic importance, the city is also a major educational centre and medical centre. Sadly, because of the neglect by the Union government of India and the apathy of the state government, the educational institutions, some of the oldest and most prestigious in the country, have fallen behind over the last decade.
The walled old area, called Patna City by the locals, is also a major trading centre.




Legend ascribes the origin of Patna to a mythological king Putraka who created Patna by magic for his queen Patali, literally Trumpet flower, which gives it its ancient name Pataligram. It is said that in honour of the first born to the queen, the city was named Pataliputra. Gram is the Sanskrit for village and Putra means son.

From a scientific history perspective, it would be appropriate to surmise that the history of Patna started around the year 490 BC when Ajatashatru, the king of Magadh, wanted to shift his capital from the hilly Rajgriha to a more strategically located place to combat the Licchavis of Vaishali. He chose the site on the bank of Ganges and fortified the area. From that time, the city has had a continuous history, a record claimed by few cities in the world. Gautam Buddha passed through this place in the last year of his life, and he had prophesized a great future for this place, but at the same time, he predicted its ruin from flood, fire, and feud.

With the rise of the Mauryan empire, the place became the seat of power and nerve centre of the sub-continent. From Pataliputra, the famed emperor Chandragupta Maurya (a contemporary of Alexander) ruled a vast empire, stretching from the Bay of Bengal to Afghanistan.

Early Mauryan Patliputra was mostly built with wooden structures. Emperor Ashoka, the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, transformed the wooden capital into a stone construction around 273 BC. Chinese scholar Fa Hein, who visited India sometime around A.D. 399-414, has given a vivid description of the stone structures in his travelogue.

Megasthenes, Greek historian and ambassador to the court of Chandragupta gives the first written account of Patliputra. Much later, a number of Chinese travellers came to India in pursuit of knowledge and recorded their observation about Pataliputra in their travelogues.

In the years that followed, the city saw many dynasties ruling the Indian subcontinent from here. It saw the rules of the Gupta empire and the Pala kings. However, it never reached the glory that it had under the Mauryas.

With the disintegration of the Gupta empire, Patna passed through uncertain times. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar in the 12th century AD and destroyed many ancient seats of learning, Patna lost its prestige as the political and cultural center of India.

The Mughal period was a period of unremarkable provincial administration from Delhi. The most remarkable period during these times was under Sher Shah Suri who revived Patna in the middle of the 16th century. He visualised a fort and a town on the banks of Ganga. Sher Shah's fort in Patna does not survive, but the mosque built in Afghan architectural style survives.

Mughal emperor Akbar came to Patna in 1574 to crush the Afghan Chief Daud Khan. Akbar's Secretary of State and author of Ain-i-Akbari refers to Patna as a flourishing centre for paper, stone and glass industries. He also refers to the high quality of numerous strains of rice grown in Patna famous as Patna rice in Europe.

Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb acceded to the request of his favourite grandson Prince Muhamad Azim to rename Patna as Azimabad, in 1704 while Azim was in Patna as the subedar. However, very little changed during this period other than the name,.

With the decline of Mughal empire, Patna moved into the hands of the Nawabs of Bengal, who levied a heavy tax on the populace but allowed it to flourish as a commercial centre.

During 17th century, Patna became a centre of international trade. The British started with a factory in Patna in 1620 for trading in calico and silk. Soon it became a trading centre for saltpetre, urging other Europeans—French, Danes, Dutch and Portuguese—to compete in the lucrative business. Peter Mundy, writing in 1632, calls this place, "the greatest mart of the eastern region".

After the decisive Battle of Buxar (1765), Patna fell in the hands of the East India Company and continued as a trading centre.

In 1912, Patna became of the capital of Orissa Province and Bihâr when Bengal Presidency was partitioned. It soon emerged as an important and strategic centre. A number of imposing structures were constructed by the British. Credit for designing the massive and majestic buildings of colonial Patna goes to the architect, I. F. Munnings. Most of these buildings reflect either Indo-Saracenic influence (like Patna Museum and the state Assembly), or overt Renaissance influence like the Raj Bhawan and the High Court. Some buildings, like the General Post Office (GPO) and the Old Secretariat bear pseudo-Renaissance influence. Some say, the experience gained in building the new capital area of Patna proved very useful in building the imperial capital of New Delhi.

There are several prestigious educational institutions in Patna like Patna College, Patna Women's College, Patna Science College,Bihar National College,Bihar College of Engineering, Patna Medical College (formerly, Prince of Wales Medical College), Nalanda Medical College , Patna Dental College and the Patna Veterinary College.

Orissa was created as a separate province in 1935. Patna continued as the capital of Bihar province under the British Raj.

Patna played a major role in the Indian independence struggle. Most notable are the Champaran movement against the Indigo plantation and the 1942 Quit India Movement.

Patna continued to be the capital of the state of Bihar after independence in 1947, though Bihar itself was partitioned again in 2000 when Jharkhand was carved out as a separate state of the Indian union.


































train station, patna


Patna is located on the south bank of the Ganges River, called Ganga locally. Patna has a very long riverline, and it is surrounded on three sides by rivers—the Ganga, Sone, and Poonpun (also spelt Punpun). Just to the north of Patna across the river Ganga flows the river Gandak making it a unique place having four largish rivers in its vicinity.

The bridge over the river Ganga, named after Mohandas Gandhi, is 5850m long is said to be the longest single river bridge in the world.

* Altitude: 53 meters
* Temperature: Summer 43 °C to 21 °C, Winter 20 °C to 6 °C
* Rainfall (average): 1,200 mm




Situated on the banks of river Ganga, Sadakat Ashram is a memorial, dedicated to our first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. He had spent few years here, after vacating the presidential post. In the memorial, are kept many things, which Rajendra Babu used or were gifted to him. This is also the headquarters of Bihar Vidyapeeth, which was the organisation that started the Independence movement in Bihar.

The tenth and last Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Govind Singh was born at Patna Sahib. Maharaja Ranjit Singh built a beautiful Gurudwara, which is also known as Patna Sahib. It is one of the main pilgrim places for the Sikhs.

A very peculiar and interesting structure in the centre of the city. It is said that the structure was built some 200 years ago by the Britishers to store grains. The 150 ft high building appears like one half of a coconut and has got stairs to reach the top. From the top one can get a good view of Patna.

Situated on the famous Baily road, the botanical garden has numerous Birds and animals to be seen. This Zoo attracts children a lot. It has also got an artificial lake where boating can be enjoyed. A wooden house built on a tree attracts visitors too.

Established in 1917, it is the oldest museum in Bihar. The museum houses about 57,000 items of archeological importance. It also has a collection of 22,000 old coins. The museum unfolds a long history of the region. The museum is located in Dedarganj. The sculpture of a Yakshni is a special attraction for visitors.

One of the largest planetariums in Asia, the Patna Planetarium attracts a large number of domestic as well as foreign tourists. The planetarium has regular film shows on subjects related to astronomy. It also holds exhibitions, which attracts lots of visitors.

Known as the 'world of manuscripts' in India, the library treasures thousands of Arabic, Persian, Mughal and Rajputana style paintings and manuscripts.

It said that this well was made by Ashoka. Once many motors were put to empty the well but even after days, the well could not be dried so it was presumed that the well has endless source of water.

Six kms from the railway station, it was at this place that the remains of Pataliputra were found during excavation. The place is very scenic and is surrounded by greenery.


takth harmaindir







sanjay gandhi botanical garden





patna museum





khudabaksh  oriental  library




Reaching Patna  

Patna has got an Airport of its own with all the major Airlines having air services to and fro from the place.

Patna is well connected by trains from all over the country. Superfast and mail trains are available from Patna to other cities in India.

This place is also well connected by roads. Bus services are available for places within the state as well as to other states.


As such Patna does not have any special item to offer but the markets are good for shopping. Shops offer local handicrafts from all over Bihar. One can buy decorative pieces made out of stone and 'lac'. Jewellery made of beads is quite popular. One can also buy 'Tilcoot'- a sweet.

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