Patna Knowledge Guide



Ancient Era

Patna assumed importance and grandeur around 490 BCE as Ajatashatru, the king of Magadha, wanted to shift his capital from the hilly Rajagrha (today's Rajgir) to a strategically located place to better combat the Licchavis of Vaishali. He chose the site on the bank of the Ganges and fortified the area. Gautama Buddha travelled through this place in the last year of his life. He prophesied a great future for this place even as he predicted its ruin due to flood, fire and feud.

Mauryan empire

Megasthenes, the Indo-Greek historian and ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya, gave one of the earliest accounts of the city. He wrote that the city was situated on the confluence of the rivers Ganga and Arennovoas (Sonabhadra — Hiranyawah) and was 14 kilometres (9 mi) long and 2.82 kilometres (1.75 mi) wide. Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India, described the city as the greatest city on earth during its heyday. The Shungas ultimately retained control of Pataliputra and ruled for almost 100 years. The Shungas were then followed by the Kanvas and eventually by the Guptas.A number of Chinese travellers came to India in pursuit of knowledge and recorded their observations about Pataliputra in their travelogues. One such famous account was recorded by a Chinese Buddhist traveller Fa Hien, who visited India between 399 and 414 CE, and stayed here for many months translating Buddhist texts.

Gupta and Pala empire

In the years that followed, many dynasties ruled the Indian subcontinent from the city, including the Gupta dynasty and the Pala kings. With the disintegration of the Gupta empire, Patna passed through uncertain times. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar in the 12th century and destroyed everything, and Patna lost its prestige as the political and cultural centre of India.Guru Gobind Singh (22 December 1666 – 7 October 1708), the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, was born as Gobind Rai in Patna to Guru Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, and his wife Mata Gujri. His birthplace, Patna Sahib is one of the most sacred sites of pilgrimage for Sikhs.

Mughal empire

The Mughal empire was a period of unremarkable provincial administration from Delhi. The most remarkable period during the Middle Ages was under the Pathan emperor Sher Shah Suri, who revived Patna in the middle of the 16th century. He built a fort and founded a town on the banks of the Ganges. Sher Shah's fort in Patna does not survive, although the Sher Shah Suri mosque, built in Afghan architectural style, does. Mughal emperor Akbar reached Patna in 1574 to crush the rebellious Afghan Chief Daud Khan. One of the navratnas from Akbar's court, his official historian and author of "Ain-i-Akbari" Abul Fazl 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.By 1620, the city of Patna was being described as the "chefest mart towne of all Bengala" (i.e. largest town in Bengal) in northern India, "the largest town in Bengal and the most famous for trade". This was before the founding of the city of Calcutta. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb acceded to the request of his favourite grandson, Prince Muhammad Azim, to rename Patna as Azimabad, in 1704 while Azim was in Patna as the subedar. Patna or Azimabad did see some violent activities, according to Phllip Mason, writing in the book "The Men Who Ruled India". "Aurangzeb had restored the poll-tax (Jazia) on unbelievers and this had to be compounded for. In Patna, Peacock the Chief of the factory, was not sufficiently obliging and was seized, forced to walk through the town bare-headed and bare-footed and subjected to many other indignities before he paid up and was released." However, very little changed during this period other than the name. With the decline of the 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. The mansions of the Maharaja of Tekari Raj dominated the Patna river front in 1811–12.

British empire

During the 17th century, Patna became a centre of international trade. In 1620, the English East India Company established a factory in Patna for trading in calico and silk. Soon it became a trading centre for saltpetre. Francois Bernier, in Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656–1668), says ". It was carried down the Ganges with great facility, and the Dutch and English sent large cargoes to many parts of the Indies, and to Europe". This trade encouraged other Europeans, principally the French, Danes, Dutch and Portuguese, to compete in the lucrative business. Peter Mundy, writing in 1632, described Patna as "the greatest mart of the eastern region". After the decisive Battle of Buxar of 1764, as per the treaty of Allahabad East India Company was given the right to collect tax of this former Mughal province by the Mughal emperor. Patna was annexed by the company in 1793 to its territory when Nizamat(Mughal suzernaity) was abolished and British East India company took control of the province of Bengal-Bihar. Patna however continued as a trading centre. In 1912, when the Bengal Presidency was partitioned, Patna became the capital of the British province of Bihar and Orissa, although in 1935 Orissa became a separate entity with its own capital. Till date a major population of Bengalis live in Patna particularly.


Patna remained the capital of Bihar after India gained independence in 1947, even as Bihar was partitioned again in 2000 when Jharkhand became a separate state of the Indian union.On 27 October 2013, six people were killed and 85 others were injured in a series of co-ordinated bombings at an election rally for BJP candidate Narendra Modi. On 3 October 2014, 33 people were killed and 26 injured in a stampede at Gandhi Maidan during Vijaya Dashmi celebrations.



Patna's native language is Magahi or Magadhi a language derived from the ancient Magadhi Prakrit, which was created in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, the core of which was the area of Patna south of the Ganges. It is believed to be the language spoken by Gautama Buddha. Patna has a vibrant Bengali culture too with many Bengali stalwarts including the first Chief Minister of post independence West Bengal, Bidhan Chandra Ray, being born here.The numerous Bengali speaking Patnaites have contributed massively into fine arts,culture, education and history of Bihar in general and Patna in particular. However, Magahi was the official language of the Mauryan court, in which the edicts of Ashoka were composed.The name Magahi is directly derived from the name Magadhi Prakrit, and educated speakers of Magahi prefer to call it "Magadhi" rather than "Magahi".Patna has many buildings adorned with Indo-Islamic and Indo-Saracenic architectural motifs. Several well-maintained major buildings from the colonial period have been declared "heritage structures"; others are in various stages of decay. Established in 1917 as the Bihar's first museum, the Patna Museum (पटना संग्रहालय) houses large collections that showcase Indian natural history and Indian art. The Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library and Sinha Library are historic public libraries of Patna. Several theatres are located in or near the central part of the city, including the Bhartiya Nritya Kala Mandir, the Rabindra Parishad, Premchand Rangshala and the Kalidas Rangalaya, which is home to the Bihar art theatre. Kalidas Rangalaya also hosts the Patliputra Natya Mahotsav, a dance festival. But in the last two decades, the popularity of commercial theatres in the city has declined.The Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company style, is an offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature school of painting, which flourished in Bihar during the early 18th to the mid-20th centuries. The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution under the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and who found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during the late 18th century. The Patna painters differed from the Mughal painters, whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes, in that they included as subjects bazaar scenes, scenes of Indian daily life, local dignitaries, festivals and ceremonies, and nature scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that inspired the formation of the College of Arts and Crafts, Patna, under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan, which is an important centre of fine arts in Bihar.Some well known dishes of Bihari cuisine include sattu paratha (parathas stuffed with roasted gram flour), "sattu ka sharbat"(a spiced drink with roasted gram flour as main ingredient), chokha (spicy mashed potatoes), fish curry, Bihari kebab, postaa-dana kaa halwaa, malpua, dal pitha (Bihari version of momos), kheer makhana (fox nut) and thekua/khajuria (a type of snack).Street foods such as Samosa, Chaat, litti chokha, phuchka (a deep-fried crêpe with tamarind sauce), South Indian and Chinese cuisine are favourite among Patnaites.Bihari Women have traditionally worn cotton sari but shalwar kameez and other western attire are gaining acceptance among younger women. Western attire has gained wide acceptance among the urban men, although the traditional dhoti and kurta are seen during festivals. Chhath, also called Dala Chhath, is a major ancient festival in Bihar. It is celebrated twice a year: once in the summer, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once about a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. Durga Puja, held in September–October, is Patna's another important festival; it is an occasion for glamorous celebrations. Among the city's other festivals, are Saraswati Puja, Eid, Holi, Christmas, Vishwakarma Puja, Makar Sankranti, Raksha Bandhan and Rath Yatra. Cultural events include the Patna Book Fair, Patna Sahib Mahotsav, the Patna Film Festival, Bihar Diwas, Rajgir Mahotsav, Vaishali Mahotsav and the Sonepur Cattle Fair in neighbouring towns.


Patna is home to many tourist attractions and it saw about 2.4 million tourists (including day visitors) in 2005. Tourists visiting the city accounted for 41% of the total number of tourists visiting Bihar although Bodh Gaya was the most popular destination for foreign visitors.The cultural heritage of Bihar is reflected in its many ancient monuments. Kumhrar and Agam Kuan are the sites of the ruins of the Ashokan Pataliputra. Didarganj Yakshi remains as an example of Mauryan art.Takht Sri Patna Sahib is one of the Five Takhts of Sikhism and consecrates the birthplace of the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Gobind Singh. There are five other Gurdwaras in Patna which are related to different Sikh Gurus; these are Gurdwara Pahila Bara, Gurdwara Gobind Ghat, Gurdwara Guru ka Bagh,Gurdwara Bal Leela, Gurdwara Handi Sahib. and Prakash Punj.Padri Ki Haveli, High Court, Golghar, Sultan Palace and Secretariat Building are examples of British architecture. Gandhi Maidan is a historic ground in Patna where several freedom movement rallies took place. Nealy built Buddha Smriti Park near Patna Junction is also becoming a major tourist attraction. The Patna Planetarium (Indira Gandhi Planetarium) is located in Patna's Indira Gandhi Science Complex. It claims to be one of the largest planetariums in Asia and to attract a large number of tourists.The Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan (Patna Zoo) is located at Bailey road, Raj Bhawan, Rajbanshi nagar, and includes over 300 mammals, 300 birds and 450 species of reptiles as of January 2019.In 2015, the Bihar government has built a state-of-the-art art landmark museum in Patna at a cost of approximately ₹530 crores on a site of 13.9 acres at Bailey Road. 5 firms were shortlisted for the architectural design, of which the Japanese firm Maki and Associates was chosen. It is now completed and opened for all.Completed in May 2018, the Sabhyata Dwar was built with a Mauryan-style architecture. It was opened to the general public in December 2018.In 2014, the Bihar government laid foundation of Samrat Ashok International Convention Centre. It is expected to use more steel than used in raising Eiffel Tower and Indira Gandhi International Airport. Construction of Dr. A.P.J Abdul Kalam Science City began in February 2019.The Eco Park is located in Jawaharlal Nehru Marg. It has more than 3,000 varieties of plants and includes several theme parks, a restaurant and an area for boat riding.