Patna is on three sacred rivers, the Ganges, the Sone and the Poonpun. The city has a glorious past and is now a bustling up-and-coming metropolis. Legend has it that a sanctified Ganga had watched with reverence as a hallowed Buddha blessed this place to be a realm of great Kings and their Empires. Belonging to the blue family of cities with a royal heritage, it is the land where the greatest emperors of India walked, and where the greatest saints chose to preach. Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru was born here. For anyone with a taste for history and religion, this place flies high.
Today, it is apparent that Bihar and Patna have seen better days. Bihar is one of the poorest states of India, and for the first-time foreigner visitor Patna will look a chaotic, noisy city with many signs of poverty even near the city centre. This may change soon, since it has become one of the fastest growing cities of India. With real estate booming at a dizzying pace, shopping malls, theaters, new businesses, food joints it carries the seed for a lively city life, and a tourist haven-to-be.
The ancient name of Patna was 'Pataliputra' and it was the capital of the Maurya and Gupta empires. Located at the site where Patna is today, the ancient city of Patliputra, with a glorious period of history spanning a thousand years (500BC-400AD), saw the rise and fall of India's first major kingdoms.
Ajastshatru, second of the Magadh Kings, built a fort at Pataligram on the banks of the Ganges river. This later became the famous Mauryan metropolis of Pataliputra and was ruled by Chandragupta Maurya, his son Bindusara and his grandson Asoka, acclaimed for the spread of Buddhism across India. Following the fall of the Maurya Empire, the next powerful empire to have its capital in Pataliputra was the Gupta Empire, which reach its zenith under the rule of Chandra Gupta I (not to be confused with Chandragupta Maurya), his son Samudra Gupta and his grandson Chandra Gupta II. Other emperors who ruled from Pataliputra were the Pala Kings, Shershah Suri (16th Century) and Azimush-Shan (18th Century), the grandson of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who renamed it Azeemabad. Vestiges of this ancient city can be seen at Kumhrar, Bhikhnapahari, Agamkuan, Bulandi Bag etc.
Today Patna is an important business and education centre of eastern India. More significantly, it is a gateway to the Buddhist and Jain pilgrim centres of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Keshariya and Pawapuri. The growing city of Patna is a great place to visit and a great place to live in.
Lying along the banks of the Ganges River, Patna is surrounded by important religious centers for the Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains. This city has been home to two great religions, Buddhism and Jainism, and myriad dynasties from ancient to modern times.
Patna Airport or Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport (IATA: PAT) is a domestic airport. Directly connected to Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bangalore,Hyderabad,Chennai,Ahmadabad, Indore and Ranchi, there are daily flights to and from Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. Air India, Jet Airways, Jet Lite, IndiGo and goAir operate here.
Patna is on the New Delhi - Howrah (Kolkata) railway main line (Patna Junction Code:PNBE; for more information, see Indian Rail site).
Trains from Napal border area (Gorakhpur and Raxual) as well as some from northeast, Delhi and Varanasi arrive at Hajipur Junction station, located on the other side of the River Ganga. Although the distance from Patna Junction station is mere 11km, including 6km on the world's longest river bridge, one should be prepared for 40 minutes to up to 2 hour ride in the bad traffic. There are prepaid and shared taxis/rickshaws available throughout the day between two stations. In Patna, shared rickshaws (₹30) leave from south side of the station.
Long-distance trains arrive from many other major cities including Lucknow, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Vadodara, Surat, Nagpur, Pune, Raipur, Jaipur, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Allahabad, Varanasi, Ranchi, Chennai, Bangalore, Mysore, Hyderabad, Goa, Mangalore, Kozhikode and Kochi, Some of the important trains are:
From New Delhi
- Patna Rajdhani Exp (12309/12310) via Kanpur, Allahabad
- Samproon Kranti Exp(12393/12394) via Kanpur, Allahabad
- Sharmajeevi Exp(12391/12392) via Lucknow, Varanasi
- Magadh Exp. via Allahabad,Kanpur
- Vikramshila Exp(12367/12368) via Kanpur, Allahabad
- Garib Rath Exp(12353/12354) via Kanpur, Allahabad
- Kolkata Rajdhani(12305/12306) via Kanpur, Allahabad. Ends at Kolkata.
- Udyan Abha Toofan Exp(13007/13008) From Shri Ganganagar via Kanpur, Allahabad, Mugal Sarai, Patna, Durgapur. Ends at Kolkata.
- Lal Quila Exp(13111/13112) via Kanpur, Allahabad, Mugal Sarai. Ends at Kolkata.
- Jan Shatabdi Exp(2023/2024)
- Danapur Exp(2351/2352)
- Garib Rath (All AC)(2359/2360)
- Sanghmitra Exp(12295-12296).
- Mumbai CST-RajendraNagar Patna Express(12141/12142)
- Mumbai LTT-Patna RajendraNagar Express(13201/13202)
- Vihbhuti Exp(2333/2334)
- Mathura Patna Exp (13237/13238) via Kanpur, Ayodhya, Varanasi, Mugal sarai. Ends in Patna.
- Patna Hatia Exp(8623/8624) via Gaya, Bokaro
- Patna Ranchi Jan Shatabdi Exp(2365/2366) via Gaya, Bokaro
Railway Enquiry: 139, 138
Patna is connected by road with all major cities of the country via (National Highway 30,31 & 19). Here is the list of destinations by distance from Patna: BodhGaya (130km) ,Muzaffarpur (80km) Rajgir (103km), Vaishali (40 km), Kolkata (535km), Varanasi (300km), Delhi (988km), Ranchi (350km), Jamshedpur (470km) , Kathmandu (373km), Siliguri (380km), Darjeeling (430km), Nalanda (90km).
On the other hand, the Inter-State Bus Terminus at Bankipore (Near Gandhi Maidan) and Mithapur, Luxury buses are available to the Nepal border (Raxaul/Birganj), Gaya, Siliguri, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Purnia etc.
There are a few car rental companies available in Patna. But foreign travellers who have not driven in India may find driving the roads in Patna and Bihar a bit stressful due to the poor road conditions and the constant heavy traffic, although the road conditions have improved recently.
By auto rickshaw
Shared 'Tempo' as they are called are the easiest and cheapest way to get around in Patna. Fare is normally in the range of ₹5-₹15 and drivers rarely try to charge more. However in case you are trying to reserve an auto, it would be better to know the distance well in advance because that is not the preferred means of transportation for the locals and it would mean being charged exorbitant rates.
Though public transport is non existent there are a few buses plying on the main routes. Prices are generally 20-30% lesser than Tempos. However, they are less comfortable.
- Buddha Smriti Udyaan (Buddha Memorial Park), Near Railway Station. A large park recently constructed in former jail ground is an oasis from noise and bustle of the city. Quiet meditative place and air conditioned libraries are the real relief even for a waiting time for the train. The large stupa is where ashes of Buddha originally from Vaishali are kept. Closed on Monday. ₹10, ₹50 for stupa.
- Golghar. Captain John Garstin built a Golghar for the storage of food for the British army with storing capacity of 140000 tons in 1786.
- Har Mandir Saheb. The Birth place of the 10th Sikh Guru, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Jee.
- Indira Gandhi Planetarium. Among the largest and best planetariums in Asia, it attracts a large number of both domestic and foreign tourists. The planetarium has regular film shows on subjects related to astronomy and also holds exhibitions. Patna Planetarium is located on Bailey Road near Income Tax Golambar in Patna within a distance of 8 km from Patna Airport, 1 1/2 km from Patna Railway station, 2 km from Government Bus stand, and 10 km from Private Bus stand.
- Khuda Baksh Oriental Library, Ashok Rajpath..
- Kumhrar. Explore the ancient ruins of Pataliputra. Of the 80 pillars (Fa Hien, in 5th century AD, found the pillars shining as bright as glass) excavated at the site, only one remains unfortunately.
- Padri Ki Haveli (Mansion of Padre, also known as St Mary's Church). It is the oldest church in Bihar. When Roman Catholics first arrived in Bihar, they built a small church in 1713 at a place now known as "Padri-ki-Haveli".
- Pathar ki Masjid. Built by Pervez, the elder brother of Shah Jahan and the first Mughal prince who made Bihar his residence.
- Patna Museum. It has more than 50,000 rare art objects, with many related to India in the ancient, middle ages and the British colonial era. Don't forget to see the Holy Relic Casket with the sacred ashes of Lord Buddha, and the beautiful statue Yakshani Entry for Foreigners ₹250 Indians ₹10 additional ₹250 to see Holy Relic Casket..
- Sonepur Mela, Sonepur. This is the largest cattle and animal fair in Asia. It is held in November in Sonepur which across the Ganges from Patna.
- Vaishali Stupa. Buddhist site with one of the oldest stupa. This is also the site of world's oldest republic.
- Meditate in Buddha Smriti Udyaan (Buddha Memorial Park). Long/short term courses and hourly rental of meditation cell are available.
- Kali Temple (at Patna University Campus on the Bank of the Ganges).
- Patna golf club. With some very tough holes, this well-maintained course situated downtown will prove interesting to amateur and pros alike. The Patna Golf Club is set in beautiful surroundings.
- Maner-Sufi Saint Shrine (30km west of Patna). You can buy famous Maner Ka Ladoo(Sweets). Maner Sweets is one of the popular shops that specializes in these. However, avoid going there in the late evening or night.
- P&M Mall, Patliputra Kurji Road, Patliputra. You can visit this mall.
- Revolving Restaurant Patna can now boast of a revolving restaurant, the biggest of its kind in the country, situated atop the tallest tower in the city on the 18th floor of Biscomaun Bhawan near Gandhi Maidan. Based on the German technique, the 5HP motor that revolves the restaurant can be fixed to take one revolution in 45, 60 or 90 minutes.
- Take a boat-ride in the Ganges., near Gandhi ghat
You can go on excursions to the various religious and historical places in and around Patna. Do not miss a boat ride on the mighty Ganges river. When in Patna, try food typical to the region such as pua-pittha, tilkut, chiwra, makhana, the famed sattu or the farmer's staple, litti chokha, and the famous paan.
Madhubani Paintings can be bought from emporiums at Mauyra Lok, a shopping center located on "Dak- Bunglow" road. You can visit many malls around Frazer road/Dak Bunglow Crossing such as Vishal Mega Mart, Maurya Lok Complex and Patna Market on Ashok Rajpath, Hathwa Market, Bari Path & Alankar Palace and other shopping arcades near Boring Road Crossing
Relatively new malls include Patna Central Mall and P&M Mall Patliputra Kurji Road, Patliputra.
- Bandhan Boutique, G-9, Pushpanjali Complex, Opp. S.K. Puri Check Post, Boring Road, ☎ +91 8102306282.
- Anarsa is one of the finest sweet delicacies of Bihar. It has rice flour shell with khoya filling, with white til in the upper shell.
- Chaat - Though chaat is a very popular snack item throughout India, the special thing about 'Patna Chaat' is its authentic tamarind flavor, as opposed to the sweet and salty Delhi Chaat. Take the opportunity to relish "samosa chaat" or "tikki chaat".
- Dahi Chura Chini, which is a mixture of curd, beaten rice and sugar, is the favourite food in North Bihar, especially in the Mithila region!
- Litti chokha is a local specialty. Litti is a primarily ball-shaped stuffed preparation, and the shape of the ball varies depending on the preparation. With a shell made of wheat flour, the taste of litti very much depends on the filling, which includes gram flour and a combination of condiments and spices. Chokha a preparation of smoked eggplant/brinjal or tomato, accompanies litti. The smoked tomato or eggplant is mashed and dressed with coriander leaves, shredded green chilies and mustard oil, which gives a distinct flavor to the chokha.
- Makhana is soft fruit grown in water. It is light fried and with little salt it serves the purpose of light snacks.
- Sweets, especially Peda and Kalakand, which are preparations of condensed milk from Sudha Dairy Parlours. The sweets must be consumed within 7 days.
- Tilkut, Khaja are other delicacies of Bihar
- Mainland China, Patna Central Mall, Frazer Road
- Mcdonald's, East Gandhi Maidan
- Bansi Vihar, Near Dak Bunglow Crossing
- China Garden, Frazer Road
- Cloud 9, Boring Road
There are three cheap and good Indian restaurants just as you come out of the north train station overpass. The one in the middle has English menus.
- Cake Palace, New Dak Bunglow Road
- Cozy Confectioners, Keshav Palace, Bailey Road
- Kwality Sweets, Boring Road
- Lucknow Sweets, Dak Bunglow Crossing
- Maner Sweets, Maurya Lok Complex, New Dak Bungalow Road
- Sweet Home, Alankar Palace, Boring Road
- Sweet Garden, Keshav Palace, Bailey Road
Sattu-pani is among the popular drinks, Lassi made of curd, dry fruits & sugar.
- Country Club International, Patliputra Colony
- Mamta Anarkali, Near Dak Bunglow Crossing
- Mamta Residency, Near Dak Bunglow Crossing
- Oasis, Boring Road
- Pind Balluchi (pind balluchi restaurant & Bar), Revolving Floor, Biscomaun Bhawan, Gandhi Maidan, Patna (Opposit Gandi Maidan). Pind Balluchi is a well-known chain of restaurants with franchises in various cities, now including Patna
- The Purple Lounge, SP Verma Road
- The Velocity, Near Dak Bunglow Crossing
Patna is a growing business town, and as such hotels tend to be overpriced for the room provided. It also means that many hotels are full most nights, giving little incentive to improve facilities.
- Country Club International , Patliputra colony
- Heritage Regency, White House, Budh Marg, Near Bhumi Bikash Bank. 0.5 km from Railway Station.
- Hotel Adarsh,Near Patna Junction(Railway Station)
- Hotel Akash , Frazer Road
- Hotel Anand Regency, Near Patna Junction(Railway Station)
- Hotel Clark Inn, Jamal Road
- Hotel Magadh, Bhatacharya Road-Naya Tola crossing
- Hotel Marina , Frazer Road
- Hotel Mayur , Frazer Road
- Hotel Nand, Bhatacharya Road-Naya Tola crossing
- Hotel Nesh Inn, Nandini Apartment, 28- Kidwaipuri, Patna, Bihar (Near Income-tax Roundabout), ☎ +91 612 2522269. ₹1900-₹4700.
- Hotel New Akash , Frazer Road
- Hotel President, Frazer Road
- Hotel Vijay Shree Deluxe, Exhibition Road NOT a budget hotel very average looking rooms start from ₹2750 a night.
- Maharaja Inn, Station Road, Rajendra Path
- Mamta Regency , Frazer Road
- Marwari Awas Grih, Dakbunglow Crossing
Other budget accommodation can be found on the road leading from the train station down towards the Mithapur bus stand. Very basic rooms start at ₹400.
- Hotel Kautilya Vihar, R Block
- Hotel Samrat International Dak Bunglow Crossing
- Hotel Satkar International, Frazer Road
- Hotel Rajasthan, Frazer Road
- Hotel Republic, Exhibition Road
- Hotel Windsor, Exhibition Road Crossing
- Hotel Panache, South Gandhi Maidan
- Hotel Gargee Grand, Exhibition Road(Near Big Bazaar)
- Hotel Ashoka, Birchand Patel Path(Near IT Office)
- Hotel Chanakya, R Block
- Hotel Maurya, South Gandhi Maidan - Landmark of Patna
- Bodh Gaya, the place where Buddha achieved enlightenment
- Deoghar - A town containing a famous Babadham temple. It is 200km from Patna By Railway (drop at Jasidih Junction on Patna Howarh Main Line)in Jharkhand State
- Nalanda - location of an ancient university with a nearby museum.
- Pawapuri - The Place of Nirvana (Bhagwan Mahabir) - A holy site for the Jains.
- Kesariya - Perhaps the oldest Shanti Stupa, it is situated in East Champaran District(Motihari), 170km from Patna.
- Munger - A small town on the bank of Ganga famous for Yoga.
- Nepal and Raxaul - Buses are available to Raxaul and Jogbani at the Nepali border, where you can hop on a bus to Kathmandu and Pokhra. These buses leave at about 7am from the Mithapur bus stop 3km south of the train station. They don't leave at night during summer (tourist off season). The roads going north out of town are particularly bad - sit as far forward in the bus as you can!
- Rajgir, the place Vishwa Shanti Shutpa you can joy on Areial Ropeway, You can enjoy Venuvana (Beautiful Garden)
- Vaishali, A town on Bank of Ganga famous for its banana, Buddhist temple and handicrafts