Located on the southern bank of the Ganga, Patna is the capital of the state of Bihar. One of the earliest cities in India, Patna was earlier known as Pataliputra.
Patna has the unique distinction of being the capital of early Indian empires for more than a thousand years. The ancient city of Pataliputra has been described in Greek accounts as rivalling the splendors of Persian cities. It excelled in the fields of architecture, sculptural art, literature, painting, trade, religion, and education.
The strategic location of Patna, nestled among the rivers Ganga, Son, Gandak and Punpun ensured the city’s political hegemony and gave it an edge in riverine trade. The city was the capital of the Shishunaga, Nanda, Maurya, Shunga, Kushana and Gupta dynasties, each of which left their imprint on the city. It continued as a center of trade even when it moved away from the political scene. It regained its political importance in the medieval and colonial periods. Patna was also actively involved in India’s struggle for independence.
Click below to read more on the long history of this city.
Many legends surround the city of Patna. They revolve around the names of the city and its ancient origins. Patna is a treasure trove of stories and travelers to Patna waxed eloquent about the city in their records. Coins, sculptures, potteries, seals, and structures found in the layers of the city all speak of Patna’s fascinating past.
Click below to know more about the city of Patna.
Patna is settled on the southern bank of the river Ganga - the mighty river that gave this historic city its status as a riverine trade centre. Take a look at the map, and you will notice the compass symbol that indicates that this map has been realigned in a North-South orientation.
Patna - Behind the Name
Explore rare artefacts from Pataliputra
This earthen pot, or lota, was excavated from the Gulzarbagh area of Patna.
It was probably used to store water, either for everyday use, or for sacred rituals.
While this pot is centuries-old, many Indian households still own similar pots in clay, brass, copper, or even steel.
This lota is a good reminder of the power of good design- that as long as it is well-designed and user-friendly, it can survive even the tides of time.
Have you noticed the reddish hue of this pot? Archaeologists refer to this pottery as Red Ware.
Excavated in the Machuatoli area of Patna, this coin from the Magadha-Maurya era is one of the earliest-known Indian coins.
These coins were made by melting metal, beating it into a thin sheet which were then cut into pieces that were the correct size and weight, and then stamped with patterns. Once complete, it was circulated across the empire as currency.
This technique of making punch marked coins is unique to India.
This life-size sculpture of a fashionably-clad yakshi or Earth Spirit represents the school of sculpture that flourished in Pataliputra during the Mauryan Period.
An exciting story accompanies this sculpture. In 1917, villagers from Didarganj in Patna gathered around a mound of earth, looking for a snake nest. Instead of a snake, they unearthed the base of a statue.
More digging revealed a body, and a head, and this beautiful sculpture was reintroduced to the world,
Have you seen other sculptures with a similar shine?
This polish is a good way of identifying sculptures from the Mauryan era!
This small but unique seal from the Gupta period is known as the 'Aarogya Vihar' seal.
The reason for this is the writing- or inscription on its lower half. Written in Sanskrit, it reads ‘sri-arogyavihare-bhisu-samghasya'- the Seal of the Monastic Community of the Sanatorium Monastery.
This seal helped archaeologists prove that there was a special monastery at Pataliputra, which functioned as a sanatorium where patients could come to rest and recover.
The top half of the seal features a Bodhi Tree- an important symbol in Buddhism, that represents the tree beneath which Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment.
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Streets and Bazaars
This historical building houses the collections of Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh.
The Khuda Bakhsh library is a treasure trove of rare books and manuscripts that attracts visitors from all over the world. Opened to the public in 1891 by Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh, this library began with a collection of 4,000 manuscripts, of which Khuda Bakhsh had inherited 1,400 from his father, Maulvi Mohammad Bakhsh.
This massive library building was once the residence of Khuda Bakhsh, which he gifted to the people of Patna along with his rich collection of manuscripts. It houses as many as 21,000 oriental manuscripts and 2.5 lakh printed books. It is particularly known for its collection of Persian and Arabic manuscripts. This includes the Shahnama of Firdausi, the Diwan-e-Hafiz signed by Emperor Jahangir, the Tarikh-i-Khandan-i-Timuriyah from Emperor Akbar’s period and the Badshahnama of Qazwini detailing the life of Emperor Shah Jahan. The library also boasts of having the only existing copy of the Sirat-e-Firoz Shahi which narrates the major events during the first half of Firoz Shah’s reign.
The library has a rich collection of about 40 Sanskrit palm leaf manuscripts, a few books in German, French, Japanese and Russian as well as Mughal and Rajput paintings.
This historic building from the early 20th century is the seat of power in Bihar.
Designed in the Indo-Saracenic style in 1917 by Joseph Munnings and built by Martin Burn, the Old Secretariat serves as the administrative headquarters of the Bihar Government.
The key features of this building complex are the Clock Tower and the bronze statue of the first Chief Minister of Bihar, Sri Krishna Sinha.
The tall clock tower adorns the complex’s lush gardens. Originally standing to a height of 198 feet, part of it fell in the 1934 earthquake and it now stands 184 feet tall. Legend says that the sound of the clock could be heard to the corners of the city when Patna’s population was a little over a lakh.
The building is designed with red-tiled mansard roofs, named after French architect F Mansart. The central arched section is linked to two buildings on either side thus giving the entire building the T shape. Also known as the Patna Sachivalaya, it houses numerous administrative departments of the state government.
Close to the Old Secretariat is the Martyrs Memorial which commemorates the sacrifice of the seven students who were shot during the Quit India Movement.
This bronze memorial commemorates an important contribution Patna made to the Freedom Movement.
The Martyrs Memorial or Shaheed Smarak, a life-sized installation, cast in bronze, is a testament to the events that occurred in Patna during the Quit India Movement in 1942.
On the 11th of August, 1942, six thousand students from Patna went up against the British Military Forces, and as a form of protest, stormed the building today known as the Old Secretariat. They had a singular aim - to hoist the Indian national flag atop the Secretariat. Seven of these students, the youngest aged fifteen, were martyred before they could succeed, but it is said that an eighth student, disguised as a gardener, took up his compatriots’ cause, and successfully hoisted the flag at the Secretariat.
The foundation stone for this memorial was laid on the 15th of August,1947 and the statue that is installed there was designed by Deviprasad Roychaudhary.
Patna was once associated with Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first president of India (1950 - 1962) was born in Ziradei, in the Siwan district of Bihar. An accomplished lawyer, he was appointed as one of the first members of the Senate and the Syndicate of Patna University. In 1911, Prasad joined the Indian National Congress and became associated with the Indian independence struggle alongside his mentor, Mahatma Gandhi.
In 1921, he gave up his law practice and started a National College near Patna. Following Mahatma Gandhi, he led various movements in the Bihar region. He also launched the Non-Cooperation Movement as well as the Salt Satyagraha (in 1930) in the Bihar region. In 1939, following the resignation of Subhash Chandra Bose, he was elected the President of the Indian National Congress.
Rabindranath Tagore is said to have written to him saying, “I feel assured in my mind that your personality will help to soothe the injured souls and bring peace and unity into an atmosphere of mistrust and chaos…”
In 1946, the Constituent Assembly was established to frame the Constitution of India. In December 1946, he was elected its President. In 1950, when the Constitution of India was ratified, he was elected the first President of India and served this post for twelve years.
This Ashram by the banks of the Ganga was home to an important national figure.
Sadaqat Ashram in Patna was the residence of India’s first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. Within this Ashram’s complex lies the Rajendra Prasad Smriti Sangrahalaya and the Bihar Vidyapeeth.
The Ashram was established by Mahatma Gandhi in 1921 during the Non-Cooperation Movement. Maulana Mazharul Haque, founder Secretary of the Indian Muslim League helped Gandhi establish this ashram. It was Haque’s close friend, Khairun Miyan, who donated his land for this ashram.
Sadaqat means ‘truth’ and Ashram means ‘house’, thus meaning the ‘House of Truth. The fact that the word sadaqat is in Urdu and the word ashram has its roots in Sanskrit, signifies Hindu Muslim unity. Interestingly, the Ashram also has a library in the memory of Maulana Mazharul Haque.
Several important meetings of the national movement took place in these premises. Mazharul Haque installed a printing press here and started a weekly English Newspaper - ‘The Motherland’ from here in 1921. The newspaper helped in spreading the word about the Non-Cooperation Movement. As late as the 1970s, Jayprakash Narain launched the Bihar Movement from here. Until recently, the Ashram functioned as the headquarters of the Bihar Congress.
Rajendra Smriti Sangrahalaya is a museum dedicated to the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. The museum lies within the premises of Bihar Vidyapeeth and has two separate buildings numbered 1 and 2.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the first principal of the Vidyapeeth and Sangrahalaya 1 was originally built as his residence. This small thatched hut was where he stayed until he shifted to Delhi in 1946. It is said that he wished to stay in this structure on his return from Delhi, after retiring as the President of India.
However, for his health and security reasons another building was constructed, now known as Sangrahalaya 2. Dr. Rajendra Prasad breathed his last in this very building on the 28th of February 1963.
The Rajendra Smriti Sangrahalaya gives an insight into the life of the first President of India. It houses his Bharat Ratna medal and certificate, horoscope and archival photographs along with household utensils and other ritualistic objects. The museum also has a collection of gifts that he had received during his domestic and foreign visits.
This freedom fighter and founder of the Janata Party spent some of his final years in Patna.
Born on 11th October 1902 at Sitab Diara, Jayaprakash Narayan was a Gandhian and a socialist leader who actively participated in the National Independence Movement. Popularly known as JP, he was imprisoned at the Nasik Jail in 1932 during the Civil Disobedience Movement. Ten years later he was imprisoned at the Hazaribagh Central Jail for his active participation in the Quit India Movement. Narayan is known for his successful escape by scaling the wall of the Hazaribagh Jail, along with five other inmates.
He also worked for the Sarvodaya Movement along with Vinoba Bhave, a social reformer. Post-independence, JP led a student’s movement against the state government. This movement gradually developed into a people’s movement called the Bihar Movement. While addressing a rally at Patna, on June 5th 1974, he called for Sampoorna Kranti or Total Revolution. This earned him the title ‘Lok Nayak’. JP passed away a few years later in 1979.
Jayaprakash Narayan was a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1965 and he was also awarded the Bharat Ratna posthumously in 1999.
This freedom fighter and a founding member of the Muslim League also founded and patronised many of Patna’s famous institutions of learning.
Maulana Mazharul Haque was a nationalist, freedom fighter, educationist and lawyer who played a major role in the Independence Movement, especially in Bihar.
He was the founder Secretary of the Muslim League, and the President of the Bihar unit of the Home Rule Movement. While he was in Patna, Haque actively participated in the freedom struggle. He made efforts to foster Hindu-Muslim unity and advocated peace while touring Bihar during the communal riots. He famously said, “Hum Hindu hon ya Musalman, ek hi kashti ke musafir hain, dubenge to saath, utarenge to saath”.
Haque also helped Gandhi in establishing the Sadaqat Ashram in Patna. Later, when Gandhi called for establishing a Vidyapeeth in Bihar, Haque got it built using his own funds, and also served as its Chancellor.
While Mazharul Haque did not live to see India become independent, his legacy thrives on in Patna. The Maulana Mazharul Haque Arabic and Persian University was established in his memory in 1998 and the Sadaqat Ashram houses a library named after him.
Patna nurtured its own distinct school of painting in the eighteenth century.
This local school of painting developed in the mid 18th century. It is said that fearing prosecution at the hands of Mughals, some painters migrated from Delhi to Murshidabad in the mid 17th century. Their descendants further migrated to Patna. These immigrant artists who settled in Patna founded the Patna School of painting, popularly known as Patna Kalam (Qalam). Thus it is also considered to be an extension of the Mughal school of miniature painting but significantly modified by the local tradition.
One distinctive feature of this painting tradition is the use of gum arabic as binder. Basic colours are obtained from indigenous materials like indigo, vermillion, burnt ivory and used along with gold and silver pigments. The artists made their own paper prepared from jute or bamboo saplings. At times the paintings were executed on mica or ivory. The brushes were also of a peculiar kind, made of squirrel tails. Some common depictions were social events, scenes of day-to-day activities, and portraits of nobility.
In the 19th century, this painting tradition was influenced by the contemporary, European style as the local artists received patronage from the locally settled European customers. Hence it is also referred to as Company Painting.
This sprawling residence built for a prominent personality of Patna spans 10 acres in area.
This 20th-century palace was the official residence of the prominent lawyer and later Judge, Sir Sultan Ahmed. Built in the year 1922, over a sprawling 10 acres of land, this elegant red-and-white building is accentuated with arches, minarets, and cupolas or chhatris. This magnificent building was constructed at a cost of Rs 3 Lakhs.
The Sultan Palace also had a zenana or a separate section for women to live in. The most interesting area of the palace is the drawing room with a beautifully ornamented ceiling which is painted with golden powder.
This museum, with its extensive collections, has a very appropriate local nickname.
A landmark of the city, Patna Museum is locally known as Jadu Ghar- the House of Magic. This elegant building which houses antiquities is built in Indo-Saracenic style incorporating elements of Mughal and Rajput architecture.
The museum was established in 1917 and was initially operated from a portion of the Patna High Court building. In 1928 it was moved to the present building at Buddha Marg. Some of the earliest collections housed in the museum were the antiquities recovered from Basarh (ancient Vaishali), Kumrahar, Bulandi Bagh and other sites of ancient Pataliputra. This collection also includes Buxar terracottas and terracotta figurines from Mathura, sculptures from Udayagiri and Ratnagiri in Odisha, and Kurkihar bronzes.
Patna Museum is one of the oldest and richest museums in India. This museum once housed some of the most revered objects such as the Didarganj Yakshi, Lohanipur Tirthankaras and Buddha’s relic from Vaishali to name a few. As per the recent decision of the State Government, all the collections dating prior to the year 1764 have been shifted to the newly constructed Bihar Museum in Patna. The Buddha’s relics are to be moved to the proposed state museum at Vaishali.
This distinctive, stupa-like structure actually served a very practical purpose.
The Golghar, or the Round House, a tall and imposing structure, is a remnant of the British administration in Patna.
Commissioned in 1786 by the then Governor-General Warren Hastings, and designed and built by Captain John Garstin, the Golghar was a granary, built specifically to store food grains, in the hopes that this would prevent famines like the one that had impacted Patna in 1770.
While the granary was built in the 18th century, its conical, stupa-like structure is similar to the older monuments that dot the landscape of Patna.
A spiral stairway of 145 steps leads to the top of this granary. An opening at the summit allowed workers to deposit grain into the granary. Today, a climb to the top of the Golghar rewards one with a beautiful and clear view of the city of Patna.
Three distinct powers administered Patna from the Collectorate.
Decorated with high ceilings and hanging skylights, the Patna Collectorate was built by the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) or the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch used it as a godown for trade and it also functioned as a Court of Appeal.
Patna’s strategic location as a riverine port soon turned it into a major centre of trade for opium and saltpeter. The French Merchant, Jean Baptiste Tavernier on his visit to the city in 1666 talks of a ‘house’ of the Dutch which they had setup for their trade in saltpeter - locally available in the region. The building that houses the Collectorate now was one such complex that belonged to the Dutch. However, it was given to the British as part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.
Post 1857, the building became the Collectorate of the city. It also functioned as an observation station during the Great Trigonometrical Survey. The Dutch and the British, both contributed to this complex. The structures dating to the Dutch era are the Record Room, the oldest building in the complex embellished with a colonnaded facade and Tuscan columns and the Old District Engineer's Office. The District Board building, on the other hand, was constructed during the British period.
This riverside palace that was once the residence of the Royal Family, today serves a rather different purpose.
Darbhanga House, also known as Navlakha Palace is one of the many palaces of the Darbhanga dynasty. Situated on the banks of the River Ganga, the palace is divided into two - Queen’s Block and King’s Block. At the centre of the complex is a temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, around which the building is constructed.
The fish symbol of the dynasty can be found in many parts of the building even today. The palace was donated to Patna University by Maharaja Rameshwar Singh and today it is used for conducting classes. The building houses the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences where various subjects such as philosophy, history, economics and languages such as Bengali and Marathi are taught.
This heritage building did not always house an educational institution.
Patna College, the oldest higher education institution in Bihar was established on 9th January 1863. Many of the famous colleges of Patna trace their roots to this institution. It boasts of many notable alumni and continues to be a very reputed educational institution.
The building of the college has a diverse history. It functioned as an opium storehouse and the central portion of the main building, that is the administrative block, was a Dutch factory in the 17th century. In 1871, the western wing of the college was built, and the eastern wing was added in 1880. The portico and the BA lecture theatre were constructed subsequently in 1882.
After an earthquake in 1934, much of the restoration work was completed in 1935. In 1957, all of the Post-Graduate departments with the exception of Geography, Sociology and Psychology were transferred from this main building to the Darbhanga House, one of the palaces of the Darbhanga family.
Given its rich history, the college building is a protected heritage site under the Archaeological Survey of India.
This palatial building has some beautiful architectural features.
Raj Bhavan, currently the official residence of the Governor of Bihar, has been home to many dignitaries in the past.
After the Delhi Durbar of 1911, a separate province of Bihar and Orissa was formed with Patna as its capital. New buildings such as the Raj Bhawan were commissioned for this newly formed capital. The New Zealand-born architect, Joseph Fearis Munnings was given the responsibility of designing Raj Bhavan.
Its construction began in 1912 and was finally completed in 1917. For three years it functioned as the official residence of Lt. Governor of Bihar and Orissa but from 1920 to 1936 it was made the residence of the Governor of Bihar.
Built in the neoclassical style, Raj Bhavan is a three-storied structure. The ground floor consists of offices and the Darbar Hall, the first-floor houses reception rooms and the second floor has rooms for the family members. The building was equipped with many features such as lifts, marble fireplaces and electric ceiling fans. The electric fans were considered a luxury at the time. The architectural highlights of Raj Bhavan are the Ionic columns of the ground floor and Corinthian columns found on the upper storey. The arched open corridors and ventilation spaces help in keeping the space cool.
The ancient Greek traveller Megasthenes wrote extensively about an architectural feature that was later found during excavations at Bulandi Bagh.
Located close to Kumrahar is another archaeological site that speaks of Patna’s historic past. This site, excavated in the early twentieth century, revealed the presence of wooden fortifications that date back to the 4th century BCE. Interestingly, Megasthenes - the Greek Ambassador to the court of Chandragupta Maurya - has written about a fortified Pataliputra in his book ‘Indica’.
The exposed structure consisted of two parallel walls of wooden palisades placed about twelve feet apart. At the lower level of the site, horizontally placed long sal wood sleepers were found. Their ends were connected to the sockets on the upright beams of the wall. These beams rest on a 5 feet deep bed of pebble (kankar) which lies below the horizontal beams. Along the palisades, on either side is a drain. The drain too had wooden walls and at the bottom were wooden planks. The height and width of this wooden drain were about six feet and three feet respectively.
Significant antiquities recovered from this site are terracotta female figurines with curious coiffures and headdresses, and a chariot wheel of wooden spokes and hub. Other finds include metallic swords, arrowheads, knives, hair ornaments, coins, and pottery.
The founder of one of the first Indian Empires held court at Pataliputra.
Chandragupta Maurya founded the Mauryan dynasty in 321 BCE by dethroning the powerful Nanda rulers of the Magadh kingdom based at Pataliputra and did this with the help of Chanakya. Chandragupta Maurya also fought the Greek satrap, Seleucus to liberate India from the Greeks.
Chandragupta Maurya ruled Magadha till 297 BCE. In ancient Greek accounts, he is referred to as Sandrocottus. He consolidated his empire by conquering territories from as far as Afghanistan to Bihar, Odisha, Bengal and the trans Vindhyan region like the Deccan. He organised an elaborate system of structured administration with a high concentration of power. The book ‘Indica’ by Megasthenes and ‘Arthashastra’ by Chanakya describe the administration, society and economy of his times.
Chandragupta is said to have accompanied the Jain saint Bhadrabahu to Karnataka. Inscriptions on the Shravanabelagola hills mention the names of Chandragupta and Bhadrabahu. According to the Jain tradition he died as an ascetic in Karnataka.
Patna was the capital of the famed Emperor Ashoka.
Emperor Ashoka of Mauryan dynasty is regarded as the mightiest emperor of ancient India and the first to conquer almost the entire Indian subcontinent. He ruled for over sixty years with his capital at Patna (ancient Pataliputra). For the first thirteen years after his coronation, he ruthlessly expanded his territory but the Kalinga War proved to be the turning point in his life. After the Kalinga War, Ashoka took a momentous decision to adopt and propagate Buddhism.
Ahsoka issued rock edicts to spread the teachings of Dhamma. Edicts were inscriptions written on pillars, cave walls and large stones to propagate peace, non-violence and religious toleration.
The most popular among the edicts are the Ashokan Pillars. These monolithic pillars made of chunar sandstone, surmounted by animal capitals were installed by Ashoka at the crucial points across the trade routes.
He is said to have erected many Buddhist stupas including those at Sanchi and Sarnath. He also initiated public works and social welfare which included plantation of trees, providing medical treatment and protection of animals. Ashoka is said to have founded the first veterinary hospital in the world at Pataliputra. Fa Hien, the Chinese traveller who visited Pataliputra during Ashoka’s reign writes about such veterinary hospitals. Many believe that the commonly found animal shelters in India called Pinjrapol originated in these hospitals.
Patna was home to Aryabhata- one of the greatest minds in mathematics and astronomy that the world has ever seen.
Aryabhata, the most popular mathematician and astronomer of the Gupta period, was born in 476 CE in Kusumpur (now Patna). He studied at the ancient monastic institution, Nalanda and at a young age of 23 he authored ‘Aryabhatia’ - the globally acclaimed treatise on astronomy. Another work that reflects his genius is the Arya Siddhanta.
Aryabhata propounded the theory that the Earth is round and rotates on its own axis. His most renowned discovery is of the zero in mathematics. In his work Aryabhatia, he has also written about the luminosity of the moon and planets which is due to the reflection of the sun. He is also credited for the approximate value of ‘pi’ (π), determination of the place value system, and algorithms for obtaining square and cube roots.
All these scientific principles were postulated without the help of major modern instruments and were propounded by him much before western astronomers and mathematicians.
This green space in the heart of the city is connected to one of the most celebrated empires in Indian History.
Kumhrar is an excavated archaeological site representing the ruins of ancient Pataliputra. The most important structure at this site is the eighty-pillared hall from the Mauryan period. It is believed to have been the conference hall for the third Buddhist council held at Pataliputra in the 3rd century BCE during the time of Ashoka.
The pillars of this hall were arranged in parallel rows of ten from east to west and rows of eight from north to south. To the south lies the pillared entrance porch. While the floor and the roof of the hall were made of wood, the monolithic pillars were carved out of buff-coloured chunar sandstone. These pillars are placed at regular intervals of about fifteen feet from each other.
To the south-west of the pillared hall were found a few brick structures of the Gupta period (4th-5th century CE). Based on the seals and pottery found here, archaeologists have identified this structure as Arogya Vihara - a Buddhist monastery-cum-hospital. Antiquities recovered from this monastery include copper coins, ornaments, stone and terracotta beads, seals and sealings, terracotta human and animal figurines and skin scrubbers.
Apart from these two structures, fragments of Ashokan pillars and Buddhist railings such as coping and crossbars were also found from the site.
Many legends surround this historical structure.
Agam Kuan is the name given to an ancient well in the Gulzarbagh area of Patna. The name ‘Agam Kuan’ literally means unfathomable well. It was so named because the locals believed that the well reaches down to patala or hell and could never be measured.
The well is often associated with Ashoka’s hell about which Hieun Tsang has mentioned in his accounts. It is said that the well was used to punish prisoners and had fiery cauldrons and ovens. Today, however, the purpose of the well has changed and it has attained a sacred identity. It is held sacred by the Hindus who make offerings of money and flowers into it and pray for protection against smallpox. A temple of Sheetala Mata or Sheetala Devi has also been constructed close to this well. Although the well is venerated, its water is not used for drinking.
It is a circular well with a diameter of about 20 feet, enclosed by a 10 feet high brick wall with eight arches at regular intervals. Contrary to the local belief of this unmeasurable well, its brick work ends at a depth of 44 feet and it is said to have a depth of about 20 feet beyond this.
The name of this mosque is a reference to the material it is constructed from.
This mosque gets its name from the material used to build it - Patthar (stone). Located in the Sultanganj area, it is made primarily of stone and is said to be built by Mahabat Khan, a general of Parwez Shah. Parwez Shah, the son of Mughal Emperor Jahangir who ruled over the city in the early seventeenth century is said to have commemorated his rule by getting this mosque constructed in 1626.
Patna is located on the banks of the sacred river Ganga and two of its tributaries.
Bordering the city of Patna on the northern side is the River Ganga. Not too far from the city, Ganga’s tributaries such as Son and Gandak merge with the River. Patna’s strategic location, along the river has been the reason for it to emerge as one of the prominent cities in India.
Ganga is home to an endangered species of river dolphin - the Gangetic Dolphin which was declared the National Aquatic Animal of India in 2010. These dolphins are locally called ‘soons’, named after the sound they make using their blowholes while surfacing to breathe.
River Ganga is not only home to such dolphins but also many aquatic birds, crocodiles and a variety of fish.
This sacred river Ganga forms the lifeline of Patna as it is the source of water for the city and its inhabitants.
This bridge over the river Ganga is the third-longest bridge in India.
The sleek Gandhi Setu of Patna, is nearly six kilometres long, making it the third-longest bridge in the country, after the Bhupen Hazarika Bridge that connects Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, and the Sisseri Bridge in Arunachal Pradesh
Inaugurated in 1982, the bridge over the river Ganga connects the city of Patna to the rapidly-developing city of Hajipur, that lies a mere 10 kilometres across the river from Patna.
Patna has given patronage to an intricate, centuries-old art tradition that one may not know about.
Tikuli Art originated in Patna city about eight hundred years ago. The artists were mainly concentrated in mohallas like Gurhatta, Noon ka Chauraha and Machharhatta.
Tikuli or bindi is the coloured dot that women wear in between their brows and is a means of enhancing beauty. They vary in size from 1/8 to 2 inches in diameter. They are made of different materials and multifarious designs that change according to the change in the fashion trend. These tikulis are used to create the unique art form called Tikuli Art.
Till the middle of the 20th century, Tikuli Art was produced on gold, silver and broken glass; today, however, pieces of hardboard are used which are cut in the desired shapes and sizes. Once these are smoothened, mythological stories and depictions of dance, women and nature are etched on the board. Subsequently, they are glazed with enamel paint. More recently, plastic is also in use for Tikuli art as they are more cost-effective, suitable for large scale production and less time-consuming. However, efforts are being made to promote traditional methods of production and to preserve such art forms that are today a dying tradition.
This ‘House of the Father’ is an important Christian shrine, nicknamed after a Roman priest.
Padri ki Haveli is an eighteenth-century Christian shrine in Patna and the oldest Roman Catholic church in Bihar. Also known as the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it is located in a mohallah which is named after this landmark religious edifice.
It is believed that at the same place once existed a small church built in 1713. However, the church was destroyed by William Ellis (the Chief of Company’s factory in Patna) in his attempt to take control over the city in 1763.
The present structure was designed by a Venetian architect, Tiretto. Its construction was commenced by Father Joseph of Rovato on 18th October 1772 and it took about seven years for its completion. It was formally opened on 8th December 1779.
The Cathedral looks majestic with its imposing facade and tall columns in the Ionic style of ancient Greek architecture. The interiors are designed in the Corinthian style. The most popular feature is the large Cathedral bell, ‘Maria’. According to the inscription on the bell, it was a gift presented by Bahadur Shah, son of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the Maharaja of Nepal in 1782.
In 1939, the Holy Family Hospital was founded here and in 1948, Mother Teresa had stayed here for three months during her medical training.
This 16th-century mosque has an unexpected name.
This mosque is situated on the Ashok Rajpath road and is probably the second oldest religious structure in Patna which is in use even today. One of the oldest mosques in the city, the Begu Hajjam’s Mosque was built by Khan-i-Azam Muazzam Nasir Khan, an official of Allauddin Shah (the Sultan of Gaur) in 1510 AD. However, this mosque came to be known by the name of a barber - Begu Hajjam, who later repaired it in 1646 AD.
The courtyard of the mosque was originally laid out with glazed tiles of Gaur which have now withered with time. A key feature of this mosque was the beautifully carved stone doorway on the south-western side of the mosque which today lies in a dilapidated condition.
Built by an agent of the East India Company, this nineteenth-century mosque has an unusual modern-day nickname.
This beautiful mosque, situated in the Shikarpur area of Patna City was built by Mir Ashraf in 1773. Mir Ashraf was the Gumasta or the Indian agent of the East India Company.
A three-domed structure, this mosque is an example of late Mughal architecture. Within the premises of the mosque is the ablution tank and a well. The ablution tank has a unique design with cusped walls, giving it the shape of a flower. The water in the tank is no more usable, hence, water for ablution is drawn from the well.
Today, this mosque is locally known as Kabootaron ka Dhera for the number of pigeons that visit this mosque.
Close to the mosque are buried Mir Afzal and Mir Ashraf himself. Mir Afzal, a prominent trader of the time is said to be Mir Ashraf’s father who died in 1760. 15 years later, his son was buried next to him.
This Gurudwara is one of the most venerated pilgrimage centres for members of the Sikh community.
Located in the Jhauganj area of Patna city, the Harmandir Sahib is the most sacred place of Sikhs in Bihar and one of the most venerated pilgrimage centres after the Golden Temple in Amritsar. It is believed that earlier at this spot there was a haveli whose owner converted to Sikhism at the behest of Guru Nanak Sahib and transformed it into a dharamsala from where he carried on the work of propagating religion. Most importantly, it marks the place where Guru Gobind Singh Ji, the tenth and last Guru of Sikhs was born in 1666.
The present Gurudwara and its gateway are made of marble. The prized possessions of the Gurudwara are the Guru Granth Sahib or Bade Sahib and the Chhabi Sahib - an oil painting of young Guru Gobind Singh Ji. The Guru Granth Sahib has the signature of Guru Gobind Singh ji, written with the point of an arrow.
Other possessions include Guru’s cradle, His ivory shoes, sandalwood shoes of Guru Tegh Bahadur (Father of Guru Gobind Singh Ji), Bagh Nakha Khanjar (dagger), wooden spinning looms of Sant Kabir, a book of Hukumnamas of Guru Hargobind Singh Ji, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, Guru Gobind Singh Ji and a few others.
This pilgrimage site has a fascinating legend associated with it.
The Patan Devi temple in Patna is one of the 51 Shakti Pithas located in various parts of India. Originally called Maa Sarvanand Kari Patneshwari, the temple is said to be the abode of Goddess Durga under the name Patana. Many also believe that Patna gets its name from this temple.
Popular legends talk about the establishment of this temple. It is said that when Devi Sati’s father insulted her husband, she threw herself into the sacred fire (yagna) conducted by her own father. Angered, Lord Shiva, took the corpse of the Devi in his hand and started performing the Tandava (the Dance of Destruction). To calm Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu chopped off Devi Sati’s corpse with his Sudarshan Chakra. The place where her right thigh fell is where the Patan Devi Temple was established.
Patna has two shrines dedicated to the Goddess, one in Maharajganj area called the Badi Patan Devi temple and the other in Chowk area called the Chhoti Patan Devi Temple.
Some believe that the Chhoti Patan Devi Temple predates the Badi Patan Devi Temple. Buchanan, a scientific explorer on his visit to Patna in the 1800s, writes about the popularity of the Choti Patan Devi Temple compared to the other. Today, these two shrines attract a large number of devotees especially during the month of Navratri.
Named after the Mauryan Emperor, this main road connects Patna’s most significant landmarks to one another.
The Ashok Rajpath, a prominent road in Patna, is named after the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka who ruled over the ancient city of Pataliputra. Running alongside the Ganga, this road commences at the Golghar and terminates at Didarganj, covering a large area. With educational, historical and religious institutions as well as marketplaces on its sides, the Ashok Rajpath is one of the most important roads in Patna.
Some educational institutions that lie on this significant road are Patna College, Patna University, Bihar Urdu Academy, Patna Medical College and Hospital, Khuda Baksh Oriental Library, Bihar Young Men's Institute and Bihar National College. Other historic structures that line the road include the Golghar, Gandhi Maidan, St Joseph's Convent, Patthar ki Masjid and Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib Patna.
This medieval mosque is a reminder of Patna’s links to an Afghan dynasty.
Sher Shah Suri mosque is one of the oldest Islamic shrines in Patna, built in the style of Indo- Afghan architecture. Located close to the Purvi Darwaza (eastern gate) in the Haziganj area, it was built by Sher Shah Suri who had transferred the provincial capital from Bihar Sharif to Patna in 1541 CE. Made of brick and plaster, this mosque has a large central hall surrounded by galleries on all four sides. Over the central hall is a semi-circular dome, and on either side are similar domes, slightly smaller in size. The exterior is ornamented with several small niches.
In the premises, there is a grave of Muhammad Murad Shahanshah Sufi with the date A.H. 99 corresponding to 1543 CE which confirms the local tradition that the mosque was built during Sher Shah’s period (1540-45). Within the premises of the mosque are several other tombs that belong to later dates.
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