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Patna

Patna the imperial city. Patna once called Pataliputra the capital of Bihar,is among the world's oldest capital cities with unbroken history of many centuries as imperial metropolis. A very fertile arched stretch of land along the bank of the Ganga. The history and heritage of modern day Patna go back well over two millennia. Like Delhi, Patna too had been the regal seat of governance for successive kingdoms since ancient times. And to this day, it is the capital city of the state. As each ruler ascended in power and established dynastic glory, he gave his capital a new name. Thus, the ancient Kusumpura metamorphosed through Pushpapura, Pataliputra, Azeemabad and now into Patna, a continuous history ranging from 6th century BC to present times - a record claimed by few cities in the world. It was Ajatshatru the Magadha king who first built a small fort in Pataligram on the bank of the Ganga in 6th century BC, which later blossomed into the ancient glory still to be seen in the neighboring archaeological sites at Kumrahar. Bhiknapahari, Agamkuan, Bulandi Bagh and Kankar Bagh. Pataliputra dominated the political fortunes of the whole of north India between 6th century BC and 5th century AD, a fact established by archaeological excavations. After a temporary eclipse, in 16th century, Sher Shah Suri returned the city to its former glory and established the present Patna. After the decline of the Mughals, the British too found Patna a convenient regional capital and built a modern extension to this ancient city and called it Bankipore. It was in Gandhi Maidan in this area, that Mahatma Gandhi held his prayer meetings.

How to go

Air: Sahara India and Indian Airlines flights connect Patna with Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Lucknow, Ranchi and many other major cities.

Rail: Patna is connected by rail to Bombay, Calcutta, Guwahati, Ranchi, Varanasi.

Road: All - weather motorable roads connect Patna with the rest of Bihar. There are also regular inter - state bus services.By road Patna to Nalanda-95 km, Rajgir-110 km, Pawapuri-90 km, Gaya-120 km, Bodhgaya-135 km, Raxaul-210 km, Ranchi-335 km, Muzzafarpur-78 km, Sasaram- 152 km, Vaishali-56 km, Calcutta-653 km, Delhi-997 km. Bus : Regular direct bus services connect Patna to Calcutta, Rajgir, Nalanda, Pawapuri, Vaishali, Gaya-Bodhgaya, Ranchi, Raxaul, Muzzafarpur, Sasaram.

Things to See

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.

Sadaqat Ashram: The Ashram is the headquarters of Bihar Vidyapeeth, a national university. India's first president, Dr. Rajendra Prasad lived here after his retirement and there is a small museum here showcasing his personal belongings.

Agam Kuan: Agam Kuan (Unfathomable well) is one of the most important early historic archeological remains in Patna. It is situated just close to Gulzarbagh railway Station, which is proposed to be associated with the Mauryan Emperor Ashok.

Gandhi Setu: Asia's longest roadway bridge

Padri Ki Haveli: The Place were Mother Teresa got her training.

Biological Park : Also known as Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park

Modern Planetarium: Indira Gandhi Science Complex, is one of the must visiting places in Patna. This is among few Planetarium's (Taramandal) in India.

Kumhrar: Kumhrar, site of the ancient city of Patliputra, lies 5 kms from Patna railway station. Archaeological findings in this area establish Patna's claim to over a thousand years of political glory - 600 BC to 600 AD. Very little of this grandeur remains though, except for the remains of a huge Mauryan hall supported by 80 sandstone pillars dating back to 300 BC.

Around Patna

Nalanda: Located 95 km from Patna lies the ruins of one of the most centres of learning in the ancient world. Nalanda University, built in the 5th century BC. Patronised by royalty and eminent religious leaders like Buddha and Mahavira, it enjoyed an excellent repurtation world over.

Maner: 30 km. Sacred to the memory of the 13th century Sufi Saint Maneri. Bari dargah, his cenotaph and the tomb of his disciple Shah Daulat are visited by streams of Muslim pilgrims. Area around the shrine is a picnic spot.

Bodhgaya: 135 km.The site of Buddha's attainment of enlightenment. One of the holiest place for Buddhist devotees.

Rajgir: 110 Km. Situated amongst lush green hills. The ancient capital of the Magadha emperors it became an important venue for pilgrims from not only Buddhist and Jain faiths but also for Hindus and Muslims.

Vaishali: 55km. Famous for its association with the Buddha and Lord Mahavira. Vaishali is credited with the world's first republic. Vaishali is now well connected with Patna by a bridge over the river Ganga.

Festivals

Sonepur Mela: One of the most astonishing cattle fairs to be held in Asia in terms of its size and scale. The sleepy little town of Sonepur  (22 km form Patna) is thrown into frenzy on Kartik Purnima , a fortnight after Diwali , as people from all over the world congragate to participate in this huge festival and is enjoyed by all. During the period Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation provides facilities in traditional huts.

Chhath Festival: The festivities accompanying the celebreation of freshly harvested paddy and its offerings made to the Sun God have to be seen to be believed. Joy and colour mark the Chhath festivities as thanks are offered to the lord of Crops and the creator of the seasons. Devotional songs to the Sun God and fasting all day long make the Chhath Festival a day of thanks giving. Devotees walk barefoot in the penance to the venue of the celebrations. Lighted earthen lamps are floated down the river at evening time.

Arts and Crafts: Madhubani paintings are indigenous to the state. The renditions by rural women, these village paintings have a large market in the urban areas as well as on the export front. Created strictly by the women of Mithila. they are etched in  primary colours of natural origin on paper and cloth. Their subjects are mythology and religious events.

Where to Stay

One can stay in western style air-conditioned and non-aircondidtioned hotels. THere are also a number of moderatly priced hotels around the railway station and the airlines office. Tourists can also stay at the Tourist Bungalow of Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation.

Tourist Bungalows:

Kautilya Vihar ( Tourist Bungalow of Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation ),
Beer Chand Patel Path,
Patna-800001.
Phone: 91-0612-2225411, 2210219, 2210242.  
Fax: 91-0612-2236218.
Rooms available: AC Room, Non-AC Deluxe, Economy and  Dormitory Beds.


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