If history fascinates you, land in Patna, the capital of Bihar on your vacation. Patna has ancient elements written all over it. It is the largest town in Bihar and its history dates back to 3000 years. During ancient times, the city was famously known as Pataliputra and it served capital of Magadha kingdom. Ruled by various dynasties, the land reflects the influences of varied culture and lifestyle. You may want to take a long vacation to enjoy the essence of Patna, which was one amongst the earliest lands inhabited. Here are the top 15 important places to visit in Patna, which would bring to your mind’s eye the spirits of the city.
Kumrahar stands proof of the cultural excellence of ancient Pataliputra. Located 5 kms from Patna, Kumrahar gives you an insight into the rich history of Patna. The site now contains archaeological remains of Mauryan palace. Excavations conducted at Kumrahar between 1912 and 1915 brought to light Mauryan pillared hall. Further excavations have unearthed more pillars and now the site is referred to as ‘Eighty Pillared Hall’. You could view ancient ornaments, copper coins, terracotta beads, stone beads, toy carts, utensils and many more. The antiques and photographs at the site give you an insight into the cultural richness of the ancient period.
Golghar is a fine specimen of the architectural splendor of the land. Captain John Garstin built Golghar in the year 1786 to use as a granary to store grain when famine hit the city. The architecture bears resemblance of the Stupa style. With 125 meters width and 3.6 meters thick, the granary has steps to lead you to the top. The view from the top is spectacular as you can see the majestic Ganges gushing beneath. Golghar also owned the pride of being the tallest building in Patna at that time. Though built to store grains, Golghar was never used to the maximum capacity. Owing to oversight while designing and constructing, Golghar could be opened only from inside and hence if filled to its full capacity, opening the doors would not be possible.
3. Patna Museum
Situated at city’s centre, Patna Museum is sure to make your mind travel to the ancient times. It was constructed in the year 1917 and it is the oldest museum in the city. Influences of Mughal and Rajput style of architecture are evident in the construction of the museum. Though the museum possesses over 45000 artefacts, owing to space restraint, a minor percentage of the possessions are on display. Both the floors of the museums are dedicated to galleries including Natural History Gallery, Stone Sculpture Gallery, Indian Stone Art Tradition, Orissa Stone Sculpture, Buddha Relic Gallery and Painting Gallery. Stone and metal sculptures dating back to Gupta and Maurya dynasties are displayed in Patna museum. 200 million year old fossilized tree is seen here. The 16m long tree is said to be world’s longest fossilized tree. The wonderful collections of the museum include Jain images, Buddhist sculptures, paintings belonging to British Empire and Chinese art. First World War cannon are on display here. The most famous collection is the life-size statue of Fly Whisk-Bearer, which dates back to 3rd century BC. It is believed to belong to Ashoka’s period. The statue has been acknowledged as an extraordinary specimen that stands proof of architectural brilliance of the period. Yet another possession is the remains of Buddha in the Buddha Relic Casket.
4. Agam Kuan
Referred to as ‘unfathomable well’, Agam Kuan is considered the most ancient and important archaeological site in Patna. Built during the period of Ashoka, the Mauryan king, Agam Kuan has many legends associated with it. With a depth of 105 ft and perimeter of over 20 feet, the well was constructed by Ashoka to torture people. It is also believed that it was where emperor Ashoka had his 99 brothers drowned to capture the throne. Yet another legend goes that a Jain Monk by name Sudarshana was seen floating on a lotus on the surface after he was thrown in the well by king Chand. Agam Kuan now owns the tag of being auspicious with unlimited powers.
5. Jalan Museum
Jalan Museum is located near the banks of River Ganges. Constructed in the year 1919, the museum reflects the extraordinary effects taken by Diwan Bahadur Radha Krishna Jalan who was behind its construction and the collections. Jalan had acquired a part of Quila Fort, captivated by its location. The building, which was damaged in an earthquake in 1934, was transformed into a beautiful museum. The collections in the museum sum up to nearly 10000 objects from various parts of the world. Some of the artefacts found here include old sculptures, idols belonging to various periods, furniture and many more. Some of the special collections include palanquin of Tipu Sultan, Humayun’s sword, Chinese idols dating back to 7th century, Venice crystals and jade stones belonging to 200 BC. You need to get permission in advance to gain entry to this private museum.
6. Sanjay Gandhi Botanical Garden
Popularly referred to as Patna Zoo, Sanjay Gandhi Botanical Garden covers a sprawling 153 acre of land and finds a place among the largest zoos in the country. It was established in the year 1969. The zoo is home to 110 species of wild animals adding up to 800 animals. Some of the animals found here include tigers, white tigers, hippopotamus, lions, monkeys and many more. The place is a delight for bird watchers as a wide range of birds are seen here. Some of the museums in the garden include snake museum, bat museum and fish museum. Toy train in Sanjay Gandhi Botanical Garden takes you through the important places in the garden. There are battery-operated cars as well. For the adventurous lot, elephants wait to take them round the zoo. The pond situated at the centre of the garden has boating facilities. Boating and riding toy train are thoroughly enjoyed by children. The botanical garden has over 300 species of plants, trees and herbs.
7. Sri Krishna Science Centre
Founded in the year 1978, Sri Krishna Science Centre uses practical approach to give an interesting insight into the principles of science. You will be thrilled the moment you enter, as you will hear the echoes of the sounds of dinosaurs. A sundial is located at the entrance of the 2 floored building. Each floor is dedicated to a theme associated with science. Named ‘Fun Science Gallery’, the first floor has on display equipments that demonstrate scientific principles. The first floor covers wide subjects including scientific principles, human evolution and ocean life. The second floor details on evolution of earth and life. Dinosaur Park and 3-D show organized here add to the attractions.
8. Patna Planetarium
Patna Planetarium ranks amongst India’s largest planetariums. Inaugurated in the year 1993, the planetarium attracts tourists from all parts of India. Astronomical film shows are conducted regularly. It is also called Indira Gandhi Planetarium and Taramandal. Various exhibitions and seminars are conducted here.
9. Khuda Baksh National Library
Khuda Baksh National Library attracts Urdu scholars from all over the world. With an amazing collection of over 21000 manuscripts and 2.5 lakhs of printed books, the library is deals with various depths of Urdu literature. Mohammad Baksh, a private collector was the man behind the library and his son Khuda Baksh took upon himself to ensure the library reaches new heights with its possessions. Khuda Baksh acquired some of the rare manuscripts in the Arabian countries. The two-storied building was opened by him in the year 1889 and the library is rightly named after him for his mammoth contribution. The priceless possessions in the library earned it the status of National Library in the year 1969. Some of the rare collections include Mughal period books with stunning paintings, which reflect the culture and lifestyle of the bygone era. The library publishes books related to Islamic study, medieval history, Unani medicine and so on.
10. Nalanda University
Nalanda is one of the most important tourist destinations that attracts people from all parts of the world. Nalanda ranks amongst the first few residential universities in the world. It was established in 5th century AD and during its prime time, it had scholars and students visiting from various parts of the world including Korea, Turkey, Indonesia, China and Persia. Excavations have brought to light some of the marvelous structures here. Many temples and monasteries were built here. One of the temples offers spectacular view of the area around. Statues of Buddha in various sizes are seen here. Famous Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang had stayed in Nalanda during 7th century. He has given a detailed account of the university and its architecture. A construction dedicated to Hieun Tsang is seen here.
11. Buddha Smriti Park
Buddha Smriti Park was inaugurated in the year 2010 by Dalai Lama. The park was promoted by the government of Bihar to commemorate Lord Buddha’s 2554th birth anniversary. Covering a massive 22 acres of land, the park is breathtaking to look at. The 200 feet tall stupa situated at the centre of the park is an important attraction. Relics from Japan, Thailand, Srilanka and South Korea are preserved in the glass case in the stupa. Other attractions in Buddha Smriti Park include museum, meditation centre and library. Saplings from Anuradhapuram in Srilanka are planted here.
12. Mahavir Mandir
Mahavir Mandir is dedicated to Hanuman. It is believed that this temple was built in the year 1730 AD. The temple underwent modifications in the years 1983 and 1985. It is considered amongst the holiest temples by followers of Hindu faith. With over million pilgrims visiting the temple every year, it is named as the second most frequented shrine in Northern India.
13. Jalmandir Temple
Jalmandir Temple is a wonderful white marble temple of Lord Mahavir. Located in the centre of a lotus filled tank, the temple looks amazing in a tranquil environment. The temple can be accessed through the 40 feet long bridge that connects the shore and the temple in the tank.
14. Sun Temple
Sun Temple is claimed to belong to the period of Treta Yuga but archaeological evidences indicate that the temple could belong to 8th century. The architectural style of the temple resembles Nagar style, which was popular between 6th and 12th centuries. Legend goes that the temple was originally facing east but following the prayers of the priest to protect the temple from being destroyed by invader, it turned to west. Sun Temple in Patna is one of the rare temples that stands with its back to rising sun.
15. Begu Hajjam’s Mosque
Considered the most ancient mosques in Patna, Begu Hajjam’s mosque was built in 1510 by Khan Muazzam Nazir. It was renovated by Begum Hajjam in 1645 and it is interesting to note that the mosque has acquired its name after Begum Hajjam, the innovator. The architectural style resembles the style prevalent during Gaur rule when glazed tiles were used. The carvings on the doorway are unique. The mosque is special being the oldest in the land and it attracts believers and tourists from various parts of the world.
Tourist places in Patna might make you feel that you are in a different world altogether – a land that proudly displays the marks left by the ancestors and a land that was much advanced in arts and architecture during times when various parts of the world had not woken up to civilization. It leaves you inspired and it leaves you awe-struck. The spirit of the city is seen in every tourist attraction it has and you will want to visit every place it has to show and feel every experience it has to offer. It is suggested to plan a long vacation if your tourist destination is Patna, as you are not just going to visit places here; you are going to feel the essence and the spirit of the life and style of Patna, one of the ancient cities in the world.
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