THE CAPITAL OF BIHAR
PATNA once called Pataliputra the capital of Bihar,is among the world's oldest capital cities with unbroken history of many centuries as imperial metropolis.It is a modern city with ancient roots going back to 600 BC. During the reign of the Maurya and Gupta empires Patna, then known as Pataliputra, was renowned as one of the great cities of Asia, but today it is a congested urban sprawl, stretching along the banks of the Ganges.After the decline of the Mughals, the British too found Patna a convenient regional capital and built a modern extension to this ancient city and called it Bankipore. It was in Gandhi Maidan in this area, that Mahatma Gandhi held his prayer meetings. West Patna, laid out by the British, has gracious mansions and administrative buildings, while the eastern end comprises the old city, a warren of crowded lanes surrounding medieval monuments and bustling bazaars.
Patna's signature landmark, the Golghar (literally "round house"),is an extraordinary dome that resembles a giant beehive. Built in 1786 by Captain John Garstin as a silo to store grain during the famines that occurred frequently in those days, the Golghar was never actually put to use. The structure is 125 m (410 ft) wide at the base and gradually tapers up to a height of 29 m(95 ft) Two external stair cases spiral upwards along its sides, with platforms to rest all along the way. The idea was to haul the grain up, and pour it down a hole at the top into the dome's pit, which had a capacity of 124,285 tonnes. A remarkable echo can be heard inside the structure. During the monsoon, the dome's summit offers impressive views of the Ganges which, in monsoons can swell to a width of 8 km (5 miles).
Some remarkable treasures are displayed in the State Museum. Among them is the Mauryan era (probably 3rd century BC) polished stone image of the Didarganj Yakshi (female attendant), considered a masterpiece of Indian sculpture. Other highlights include Gandharan style statues of Bodhisattva's outstanding Buddha images in bronze and black stone, dating from Pala period (8th-12th centuries) terracotta figurines, ancient Buddhist scriptures, and a collection of Tibetan tbangkas. The museum also boasts a 15 m (49 ft) long fossilized tree trunk, believed to be 200 million years old.
Founded in 1900, this libraly has a renowned collection of rare Persian and Arabic manuscripts, including a group of beautiful illuminated medieval Korans, and superb Mughal miniature paintings. Its rarest exhibits are volumes salvaged from the sacking of the Moorish University in Cordoba, Spain, in the 11th century, though how they found their way to India still remains a mystery.
This historic Sikh gurdwara marks the birthplace of the firebrand tenth Guru, Gobind Singh, who was born here in 1666. Regarded as one of the four holiest Sikh shrines, with the marble temple was built in the 19th century by Maharaja Ranjit Singh. On the floor above the main sanctum is a museum with the Guru's relics.
Also known as Qila ("Fort") house, this museum's eclectic collection, gathered by a 19th century ancestor of the Jalan family, includes Chinese paintings, Mughal jade and silverware, Napoleon's bed and Marie Antoinette's Sevres porcelain. Qila House itself is an interesting structure, built on the ruins of a 16th century fort constructed by the Afghan ruler, Sher Shah Suri.
This site contains the ruins of the ancient city of Pataliputra. Excavations have unearthed elaborately carved wooden ramparts, polished sandstone pillars and the remains of a vast Mauryan assembly hall that is said to have stood here in the 2nd century BC. A museum here displays some of these finds, which date from an era when Patna was described by Megasthenes, the Greek envoy to the Mauryan court, as a city of light, where even wooden walls shine bright as glass".
Old Opium Warehouse Gulzarbagh
Located in a walled compound on the river bank. the opium warehouse of the East India Company is now the Government Printing Press. Visitors can enter the three long, porticoed buildings, where the opium was packaged before being sent by boat to Kolkata.