PATLIPUTRA

Ancient literature refers to Patliputra by various names such as Patligram, Patlipur, Kusumpur, Pushpapur or Kusumdhvaj. In the 6th century B.C. it was a small village where Buddha, sometime before his demise, had discovered a fort being built under the decrees of King Ajatshatru of Rajgrih for the defence of the Magadh kingdom against the Lichchavi republic of Vaishali.

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PATNA

Patna, located just east of the river’s confluence with three major tributaries, was once a powerful city. Early in the 5th century BC, Ajatasatru shifted the capital of his Magadha kingdom from Rajgir to Pataliputra (Patna), fulfilling Buddha’s prophecy that a great city would arise here. Emperors Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka also called Pataliputra home, and it remained one of India’s most important cities for almost 1000 years.

Patna stretches along the southern bank of the Ganges for about 15 km. The 5.7 km - long Mahatma Gandhi Setu, one of the longest river bridges in the world, connects Patna with northern Bihar.

Sights

Patna Museum - MUSEUM

(Buddha Marg; Indian/foreigner; Rs.15/250; Time: 10.30am - 4.30pm; Days: Tue-Sun)
Housed in a majestic heritage building, this museum contains a splendid collection of Mauryan and Gupta stone sculptures, some beautiful bronze Buddhist statuary, 2000 year old terracotta figurines and a gallery of wonderful Rajasthani miniatures. Don’t miss the fabulous collection of thangkas (Tibetan cloth paintings) brought to India by the scholar and traveller Rahul Sankrityayan in the early 20th century.
Upstairs in a locked gallery (an extra Rs. 500) you can get a glimpse of a tiny casket believed to contain some of Buddha’s ashes that were retrieved from Vaishali.

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Bihar Museum - MUSEUM

Since its opening initially in 2015 and fully in 2017, Bihar Museum is spread over 13.3 acres and its 7 galleries showcase the Bihar’s heritage and its contribution to world civilization — from Buddha and Mahavir, to the Nalanda University, the Bihari diaspora (known as girmitiya labourers) of the 19th and 20th centuries, and Mahatma Gandhi’s first satyagrahafrom Champaran. Also highlighted here, are the philosophy of Chanakya and the reign of Emperor Ashoka.

What sets the Bihar Museum apart from others in the state is in its measuring up to international standards.The entry fee for adults is Rs 100; Rs 50 for children, and Rs 500 for foreigners.

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Sabhyata Dwar - MEMORIAL SITE

It is Patna’s latest iconic 34m-high sandstone arch - Sabhyata Dwar - on the bank of river Ganga, built with a Mauryan architecture to evoke the glory of the ancient capital of Pataliputra that serves as the ceremonial gateway to the city. It stands on the sprawling premises of the Samrat Ashoka International Convention Centre, which neighbours the Patna’s Gandhi Maidan.

The ceremonial arch was originally envisioned by late ex-Vice Army Chief Lt Gen (retd) S K Sinha as the ‘civilisation gate’ that would beckon travellers and passersby to Patna and draw them to its rich and multi-layered history, as it did in the reign of the Mauryan Empire over 2,500 years ago.

The inscriptions will be attributed to Megasthenes, the ancient Greek envoy to Pataliputra – the capital of the Mauryan Empire; to King Ashoka, who ruled ancient India from his capital in Pataliputra (today’s Patna); to Lord Buddha and to Lord Mahavira

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Samrat Ashok International Convention Kendra - CONGREGATION HALL

Samrat Ashok International Convention Centre near Gandhi Maidanhas a 'Bapu Hall' with a capacity to seat 5,000 people and a four-floor structure with a height of 35 metres and a spread over 11.82 acres of land. It has five components, including the main convention hall, Gyan Bhavan, auditorium, Sabhyata Dwar and a food court.

The project was conceptualised in 2012 during the Global Bihar Summit, when the need of a major convention centre was felt as the S K Memorial Hall has the capacity to seat only 1,500 people.

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Buddha Smriti Park - PARK

(Fraser Road; Admission 10; Time: dawn-dusk; Days: Tue-Sun)
It is a 20 acre park near the railway station established in 2010 by the Bihar government to commemorate the 2550th anniversary of the Buddha’s mahaparinirvana. Inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 2010, it is notable for its massive sandblasted charcoal stupa (admission Rs. 50), which houses a unique bulletproof chamber inside; and sapling plantings from both the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. The Buddha’s relics were donated by government and monastic officials from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Japan, South Korea, and Tibet and are currently enshrined in the stupa’s inner sanctum. There is also a strikingly modern Buddhist museum (Rs.40), a library (Rs.50) and a meditation centre (free).

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Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library - MUSEUM

(Ashok Raj Path; Time: 9.30am-5pm; Days: Sat-Thu)
This tiny, but fascinating library-cum-museum, founded in 1900, contains a renowned collection of Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Mughal and Rajput paintings, and even the Quran inscribed in a book just 25mm wide. A significant exhibit is Nadir Shah’s sword, perhaps the very weapon he raised at Delhi’s Sunehri Mosque in 1739 to order the massacre of the city’s residents.

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Gandhi Museum - MUSEUM

(Danapure Road; Time: 10am-6pm; Days: Sun-Fri)
This museum contains a pictorial history of Mahatma Gandhi’s life, plus some of his meager belongings. On your way in, do not miss the glass-boxed statues of Gandhi and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore in conversation.

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Golghar - HERITAGE BUILDING

(Danapure Road; Admission 2; Time: 6am-6pm)
For a dome with a view, climb this massive, bulbous granary, built by the British army in 1786. The idea behind its construction was to avoid a repeat of the 1770 famine. On one side, the old carved sign reading ‘For the perpetual prevention of famine in these provinces’ although fortunately it was never required.
Its dual spiralling staircases (142 steps each) were designed so that workers could climb up one side and down the other. The viewing gallery on top of the monument affords unparalleled vistas of the city and the Ganges.

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Takht Sri Patna Sahib - GURUDWARA

(Patna City; Time: 9am-9pm; All Days)
It is a Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) in the neighborhood of Patna Sahib, India. It was built in remembrance of the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs on 22 December 1666. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839), the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, who also built many other Gurdwara's in the Indian subcontinent. The current shrine of Patna Sahib or Takht Sri Harmandirji Saheb was built in the 1950s.
Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru, was born in Patna, Bihar, in 1666. He also spent his early years here before moving to Anandpur. Besides being the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, Patna was also honored by visits from Guru Nanak as well as Guru Tegh Bahadur.

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Kumhrar - ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE

(Old Patna Bypass; Time: 9am-7 pm; All Days)
Kumrahar is the name of an area of Patna, where remains of the ancient city of Pataliputra were excavated. It is located 5 km east of Patna Railway Station.
Archaeological remains of the Mauryan period (322–185 BCE) have been discovered here, this include the ruins of a hypostyle 80-pillared hall. The excavation finding here dates back to 600 BCE, and marks the ancient capital of Ajatshatru, Chandragupta and Ashoka, and collectively the relics range from four continuous periods from 600 BCE to 600 CE.

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Agam Kuan – ANCIENT TEMPLE

(Between Old Bypass, east of Patna station and Patna City; All Days)
Agam Kuan (bottomless well) is an ancient well and archaeological site in Patna, India. It is said to date back to the period of Mauryan emperor, Ashoka (304–232 BCE). Circular in shape, the well is lined with brick in the upper 13 metres (43 ft) and contains wooden rings in the remaining 19 metres (62 ft). The Agam Kuan is set within an archaeological site identified by the Archaeological Survey of India which also contains the adjacent Shitala Devi temple where the folk deity Shitala Devi is venerated. Inside this temple, the pindas of the Saptamatrikas (the seven mother goddesses) are worshipped. The temple is widely revered for its belief in curing smallpox and chicken pox. Another popular legend states that this was the well where Ashoka threw 99 of his elder half-brother's heads and put the heads in the well to obtain the throne of the Mauryan Empire.

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Patan Devi - ANCIENT TEMPLE

Patan Devi, also called Maa Patneshwari is the oldest and one of the most sacred temples of Patna. It is regarded as one of the 51 Siddha Shakti Pithas in India. According to Puranic legends, the 'right thigh' of the corpse of Sati had fallen here when it was chopped off by Lord Vishnu with his 'Sudarshan Chakra'. The ancient temple, originally called Maa Sarvanand Kari Patneshwari, is believed to be the abode of the goddess Durga. The name of the city Patna is widely believed to have been derived from the name of the Bari Patan Devi Temple (located nearby Patna Saheb Gurudwara). Some, however, doubt whether the name of Patna is derived from this temple. According to them, the name is derived from Patan, which means a town and Patna was a big place of export and import.

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Mahavir Hanuman Temple - OLD TEMPLE

Mahavir or Hanuman temple of Patna is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Hanuman, located outside Patna Junction in Patna, Bihar. Million of pilgrims visit the temple every year and is the second most visited religious shrine in North India. The idol of Sankat-Mochan stands in it. The Mahavir Mandir Trusts have the second highest budget in North India after the famous Maa Vaishno Devi shrine.

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Hotel

Hotel Clark Inn - HOTEL
(Jamal Road; from Rs. 660) The cheapest hotel we could find that welcomed foreigners. Clark Inn has simple but comfortable rooms with TVs, chairs and tables, and small balconies.

Hotel President - HOTEL
(www.hotelpresidentpatna.com; off Fraser Road; s/d Rs. 1400/1700)
This smart, family-run hotel is in a relatively quiet location off Fraser Road and close to Patna Museum. All rooms are with AC - spacious and clean, with TV, seating areas and hot water. Some have small balconies. No wi-fi available but there is an internet terminal in the lobby.

Hotel City Centre - HOTEL
(hotelcitycentrepatna@rediffmail.com; Station Road; d inclusive breakfast with/without AC Rs. 2000/1100)
This modern glass tower to your right just as you exit the railway station is perfect for a comfy transit overnighter. Rooms are good value for the price (non-AC rooms have squat toilets), and there is a restaurant within the premises.

Hotel Maurya Patna - HOTEL
(www.maurya.com; S Gandhi Maidan; inclusive breakfast Rs.12,000 / 14,000)
Fine appointments and luxurious surroundings distinguish Patna’s top business hotel. The large gardens host a tempting pool, and there are a few nice restaurants. Rooms are tastefully furnished.

Eating & Drinking
Litti Chokha Stall - STREET FOOD
(Opp. Gandhi Maidan; Rs. 10 per plate)
One of numerous street-side stalls dotted around the city cooking up Patna’s speciality snack.

Bihar Eating

Litti chokha
- Chickpea-powder dough balls served with a spicy side sauce of mashed tomatoes, aubergine and potatoes).

Baba Hotel
- INDIAN
(Dak Bungalow Road; mains Rs. 50-100; Time: 9am-10pm)
Clean, good-value, pocket-sized restaurant serving veg and non-veg Indian and Chinese dishes, as well as Rs. 85 thalis.

Bollywood Treats - MULTICUISINE
(Maurya Patna Hotel Arcade; mains Rs. 80-150; Time; noon-9pm)
This spotless American-style diner dishes out South Indian snacks, Chinese stir-fries, decent pizza and tempting brownies to Patna’s blossoming middle class. There is a Baskin-Robbins ice-cream kiosk, and it also does fresh coffee (Rs. 95). Opens at noon, but doesn’t start serving food until 1pm.

Tandoor Hut
- INDIAN
(Fraser Rd; mains Rs. 70-130; Time: noon-3pm & 7-11pm)
Street-side stand serving delicious kebabs and other tandoor offerings. Take them back to your hotel, or stand at the tables provided on the pavement outside. The chicken tikka and reshmi kebab (tender chicken kebab cooked in the tandoor) are both superb.

Bellpepper Restaurant
- INDIAN
(Hotel Windsor, Exhibition Road; mains Rs. 100-250; Time: 11am-3pm & 7-11pm)
Intimate and contemporary, this restaurant inside Hotel Windsor is hugely popular for its tandoori dishes. The murg tikka lababdar (boneless tandoori chicken basted with garlic, ginger, green chillies, and a pistachio- and cashew-nut paste) is melt-in-your-mouth sinful. The biryanis are good here. No alcohol.

Anarkali
- INDIAN
(Mamta Hotel; cnr Fraser & Dak Bungalow Roads; mains Rs. 90-180; Time: noon-10pm)
One of the friendliest restaurants in Patna, this oldie, housed inside Mamta Hotel, is a wonderful place to get sloshed in style. Serves excellent food, although portions are on the small side.

Shopping

Ajanta - HANDICRAFTS
(Fraser Road; Time: 10am-9pm; Days: Mon-Sat)
This unassuming little shop has a delightful selection of Mithila (Madhubani) paintings secreted away in drawers and cupboards. Most of the stock on display is bronzes, but if you ask, the owner will show you a colourful range of unmounted paintings starting from Rs. 350 (handmade paper) to Rs. 950 (silk).

Information
INTERNET ACCESS

Rendezvous Cyber Café (Hotel Windsor, Exhibition Road; per hour Rs. 30; Time: 10am-8pm)
This Internet cafe is attached to Hotel Windsor.

MEDICAL SERVICES

Dr Ruban Memorial Hospital (0612-2320446, 0612-2320404; Gandhi Maidan; Time: 24hr)
Emergency room, clinic and pharmacy.

MONEY

POST

Post office (Buddha Marg; h10am-4pm Mon-Fri, to 2pm Sat) Ordinary and speed post facilities.

TRAVEL AGENCIES

Thomas Cook (0612-2221699; www.thomascook.in; Hotel Maurya, Patna Arcade; Time: 10am-6pm; Days: Mon-Sat)
Helpful for booking airline tickets and car rental. Also exchanges currency.

Getting There & Away

AIR

Patna’s Jaiprakash Narayan International Airport is 8km from the city centre. Between them, Air India (0612-2223199; www.airindia.in; Patna airport), IndiGo (1800 1803838; www. goindigo.in; Patna airport) and JetKonnect (www.jetkonnect.com; Patna airport) fly daily to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata. The IndiGo flight to Mumbai goes via Lucknow.

BUS
The main bus stand occupies a large, dusty space about 1.5km from the train station (Rs.5 shared autos run here from the back of the train station). It is a hugely hectic place, but if you walk into the chaos telling people where you want to go, you will soon get shown to the right bus; buy tickets on board. There are frequent services throughout the day, and some sleeper buses to Ranchi and

CAR

Hiring a car and driver can be done through Thomas Cook (p525), starting from Rs. 10 per kilo-metre (minimum 200km) plus a driver allowance of Rs.300 per overnight stay.

TRAIN

Patna Junction has a foreign-tourist ticket counter (window 3, Patna Junction; Time: 8am-8pm; Days: Mon-Sat, to 2pm Sun) at the 1st-floor reservation office, in the right-hand wing of the station. Trains leave roughly hourly for Gaya (2nd class/AC chair Rs.25/290, two to three hours) between 5am and 11.30pm. Just buy a 2nd-class ‘general’ ticket and hop on the next available service.

More than a dozen daily trains leave for New Delhi (sleeper/3AC/2AC Rs.500/1260/1825, 12 to 18 hours); the quickest and most convenient time-wise, is the RJPB Rajdhani (3AC/2AC/1AC Rs. 610/2235/3730) which leaves at 7.25pm and arrives in Delhi at 7.40am.

Ten daily trains go to Kolkata (sleeper/ 3AC/2AC Rs.340/880/1240, eight to 14 hours). The best time-wise is probably the Vibhuti Express (10.35pm, nine hours).

At least 20 daily trains go to Varanasi (sleeper/3AC/2AC Rs.160/485/690, four to six hours) between 5am and 11pm.

Three fast trains go to Ranchi (sleeper/ 3AC/2AC Rs.310/835/1195, eight to 10 hours), leaving at 6am, 11.40am and 9.45pm.

Getting Around

 

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