Patna is the largest town and headquarters of Patna district, Patna division and Bihar state. Patna is the capital of Bihar state. It is located on the south bank of the river river Ganga. It is well connected by railway and road. It is mainly an administrative and educational centre of Bihar. It has however a few ancient sacred places as also places of tourist interest. Rice is the main crop of the district. It accounts for more than one third gross area sown. Other important food grains grown are maize, pulses and wheat. Non-food crops consist mostly of oil-seeds, cash crops such as vegetables, water-melons etc. are also grown in Diara belt.
Golghar This arresting beehive-shaped structure is undoubtedly the city’s most iconic landmark, dominating the list of things to explore in Patna. A unique, whitewashed dome with a spiraled staircase, Golghar was built by Captain John Garstin in 1786 as a granary for the British army garrisoned in the city. The most amazing thing to note about this structure is that the huge dome, 29 m in height and 125 m in diameter, is not supported by any pillars!
Ruins of Pataliputra Lying just a little distance away from the current city of Patna are the ruins of its predecessor – Pataliputra. The city that was ruled by 3 legendary kings – Ajatshatru, Chandragupta and Ashoka – is today just a pile of rubble, sandstone pillars, wood platforms that may have supported a staircase, foundation bricks of a Buddhist monastery and carved stone pieces. But don’t let this description dissuade you from visiting the ruins (better known locally as Kumhrar) of what was once the center of power, trade, arts and learning in ancient India. You’ll be in good company as this is one of the most popular tourist places in Bihar, attracting visitors from around the globe.
Nalanda Mahavihara A revered seat of learning in ancient India, Nalanda was one of the earliest universities in the country and home to students from India, Tibet, China, Korea and Central Asia. Eminent Chinese scholar and traveler Hsuan-tsang visited the university between 685 and 762 AD and studied Buddhist theology, the Vedas, logic, and metaphysics. Amply patronized by the kings of the Gupta Empire, Nalanda flourished from 5th century AD to 1200 AD. One of the most important centers of learning, Nalanda is believed to have three huge libraries – so huge, they burnt for six months when the marauding armies of Islamist invaders attacked the monastery in 1193.
Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library A book of the military accounts of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Timur Nama, Jehangir Nama; books on Persian poetry, Sufism, and even ancient medical texts – you can find all this and a mindboggling lot more at the Khuda Bakhsh Public Library in Patna. A surprise find for many, this is one of the few national libraries of India and houses may rare hand-illustrated manuscripts, printed volumes and exquisite paintings from the Rajput and Mughal eras.
Mahavir Mandir One of the largest temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, Patna’s Mahavir Temple is a tranquil oasis in a crowded urban jungle. Most likely built in the 17th century, the temple started gaining popularity after India’s partition in 1947 when a large number of Hindu refugees from the newly-created Pakistan started settling down in the city. Besides the beautiful idol of Lord Hanuman, the temple is also home to a ‘floating stone’ from the legendary Ram Setu.
Takht Sri Patna Sahib Patna is revered by the followers of the Sikh religion as this is the place where the 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singhji was born. Takht Sri Patna Sahib was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to commemorate the event. Also known as Harmandir Sahib, the holy shrine is built in the old quarters of Patna city in an area known as Kucha Farrukh Khan and is thronged with devotees from all over the globe. Visit it for a glimpse into Sikh history. Relics of the 10th Guru like four iron arrows, weapons, a pair of his sandals and a cradle with gold-plated stands are housed in the shrine.
Choti Dargah Just 32 km west of Patna lies one of the finest and least known Mughal structures in India – the Choti Dargah of Maner. A magnificent three-storied structure, the mausoleum was erected in 1616 in honor of the Sufi saint Makhdoom Shah Daulat who passed away in Maner and was buried here. Its beautiful dome flanked by four twelve-sided minarets, age-old walls adorned with exquisite motifs and ceilings inscribed with passages from the Quran make for memorable viewing.
Jain Temple of Pawapuri Pawapuri is one of the holiest sites for the followers of Jainism in India. Located about 93 km from Patna, near Rajgir, this is the place where Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism is believed to have attained nirvana or liberation. Jain pilgrims throng the city to visit the beautiful marble temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira and believe they will be absolved of all their sins here. Visit it for its peaceful ambience, beautiful Jain architecture and a chance to shake off all your sins, possibly!
Patna Museum A grand building constructed in 1917 especially for the museum founded by Sir Edward Gait, the then Lieutenant Governor of Bihar; the structure that houses the Patna Museum is a site in itself. Created as a place to display historical and archeological finds of note discovered in and around the city, today it displays over 20,000 exhibits. While here, focus on the fossil of a 200-million-year-old tree classified as a Dadoxylon, the Buddha Relic Casket – a soapstone casket said to contain the ashes of Mahatma Buddha, the 2300-year-old Didarganj Yakshi, an ancient sculpture, and museum’s various galleries like the Natural History Gallery, which would be endlessly amazing if you’re traveling with kids.
Jalan Museum Would you believe us if we told you that Napoleon’s bed (yes, THAT Napoleon) is lying in a museum in Patna? That, along with Chinese jade and porcelain pieces from the Han and Ching dynasties, a silver dinner set that includes a thali, believed to have been owned by Emperor Akbar’s prime minister, Birbal, Tipu Sultan’s ivory palanquin and a cabinet made for King Henry II of France…all these and more delightful finds are housed in the eclectic private collection of RK Jalan, a noted businessman from Patna who collected artefacts and antiques over his lifetime. Displayed at the family’s private residence (this is not actually a museum!) called Quila House, the collection spanning continents and centuries is an absolute must-visit attraction in the city. Do make an appointment at least 48 hours in advance, with the family, before you go.