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Patna or Pataliputra has a long and storied past; ruled by mighty kingdoms at different times in history, coveted for its fertile lands (the city lies on the south bank of the iconic Ganges), and revered for its learning centers like Nalanda. Today it leads the pack as one of the fastest-growing cities in India.

One of the oldest continuously inhabited places on the planet, Patna was once a thriving center of international and agricultural trade. It was home to many scholars of ancient India – think Aryabhatta, Chanakya, and Panini. The city was also the capital of the mighty Magadha Empire and at the epicenter of two of the largest religions in India – Buddhism, and Jainism – and an important destination for Sikhism, another major religion in the country.

For a city that has been around for at least 2500 years, it is nearly impossible to not have places of interest you could explore. Patna is a city teeming with interesting stories, intriguing structures, and an unfailing sense of hospitality that you are greeted with when you visit it.

1. Golghar, Patna

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!

Golghar was meant to be the first in a series of similar structures intended to act as a preventive measure against frequent famines in the area. None of the other ‘golghars’ were ultimately built, giving us a one-of-a-kind building that you mustvisit in Patna.

  • Location: Ashok Rajpath, Chhajju Bagh

  • Timings: 9:30 am – 6:00 pm, all days

  • Entry Fee: Free

2. 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.

Excavated at different points in time, the ruins require you to use your imagination to see what a grand city it once was. The scale of the structures, the possibilities of their uses, and just the pride in our glorious past make this a place worth exploring while you are in Patna.

  • Location: Kumrahar

  • Timings: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm all days

  • Entry Fee: ₹ 5

3. Nalanda Mahavihara, Patna

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 the 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.

About 95 km from Patna, this glorious scholastic and monastic institution today tells its stories through its ruins of stupas, shrines, and viharas. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the attraction also features a fascinating archeological museum next to the ruins. Displays include the Nalanda University seal, bronze and stone sculptures. Also visit the Xuan Zang Memorial Hall, built by the Chinese in honor of the famous traveler, while you are here. Spend a day at this peaceful point of interest and revel in the wonderful history of the city.

  • Location: Near Bihar Sharif town, Nalanda district

  • Timings: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm, open all days, except Friday

  • Entry Fee: ₹ 15

  • Fees for Video Camera: ₹25

4. Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Public Library, Patna

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 finds 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.

The two-storied building that houses the library was completed in 1888 using a princely sum of ₹80,000 and was opened up to the public in 1891. A bibliophile’s Eden, this should be on your list of places to explore while in Patna.

  • Location: Ashok Rajpath

  • Timings: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, open all days, except Friday

  • Entry Fee: Free

Religious Places in Patna:

5. Mahavir Mandir, Patna

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.

  • Location: Fraser Road Area

  • Timings: 5:30 am – 10:30 pm, all days

  • Entry Fee: Free

6. 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.

  • Location: Mithapur

  • Timings: N/A

  • Entry Fee; free

The city offers many other places of interest you could explore. The Bihar Museum with its large number of intriguing artifacts focused on the state’s history, the Buddha Smriti Park with its giant Stupa and tranquil Garden of Memories, the Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan which is equal parts a botanical garden, a zoo, and one of the most popular picnic spots in the city, and the immensely calming Gandhi Ghat on the gently flowing Ganga.

happy travelling lovelies


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