A very fertile arched stretch of land along the bank of the Ganga, the history and heritage of modern day Patna go back well over two millennia. Like Delhi, Patna too had been the regal seat of governance for successive kingdoms since ancient times. Even today it is the capital city of the state of Bihar. As each ruler ascended in power and established dynastic glory, he gave his capital a new name. Thus the ancient Kusumpura metamorphosed through Pushpapura, Pataliputra, Azeemabad and now into Patna, a continuous history ranging from 6th century BC to present times - a record claimed by few cities in the world. It was Ajatshatru the Magadha king who first built a small fort in Pataligram on the bank of the Ganga in the 6th century BC, which later blossomed into the ancient glory still to be seen in the neighbouring archaeological sites at Kumrahar, Bhiknapahari, Agamkuan, Bulandi Bagh and Kankar Bagh.
Pataliputra dominated the political fortunes of the whole of north India between 6th century BC and 5th century AD, a fact established by archaeological excavations. After centuries of being eclipsed, Sher Shah Suri returned the city to its former glory and established the present Patna in the 16th century. 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.
Archaeological findings in this area establish Patna's claim to over a thousand years of political glory - 600 BC to 600 AD, and then again, from the 16th century onwards, spanning the rule of several dynasties. Very little of this grandeur remains though, except the remnants of a huge Mauryan hall supported by 80 sandstone pillars dating back to 400- 300 BC.
Alarmed by the famine of 1770, captain John Garstin built this huge granary for the British army in 1786. The massive structure is 29m high and the walls are 3.6m wide at the base. The stairway winding around this monument offers a magnificent panoramic view of the city and the Ganga flowing by.
Har Mandir Takht
It was in Patna, far from Punjab, where Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs who consolidated the warrior sect, was born in 1660. The Har Mandir Takht, one of the four sacred shrines of the Sikhs, stands at this holy site. The original temple was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and contains belongings of the Guru and Sikh holy texts. As a sign of reverence, it is also called Patna Sahib by the Sikhs.
A memorial to seven freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives in the "Quit India" movement of August 1942, it is a modern sculpture facing the Secretariat where they were shot in their attempt to hoist the national flag.
Pathar Ki Masjid
Adjacent to Har Mandir Sahib, this beautiful mosque was built by Parwez Shah, son of Jehangir, when he was the governor of Bihar. Situated on the bank of the Ganga, it is also called Saif Khan's mosque, Chimmi Ghat mosque and Sangi Masjid.
Sher Shah Suri Masjid
Sher Shah Suri built this mosque in 1545 to commemorate his reign. Built in Afghan architectural style, it is one of the many beautiful mosques in Bihar and a landmark in Patna.
Khuda Baksh Oriental Library
A magnificent one man collection of rare Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Rajput and Mughal paintings, assortment of old books and new books from the university of Cordoba, Spain, it is one of the national libraries of India now.
The museum contains a First World War cannon, metal and stone sculpture of Maurya and Gupt periods, Buddhist sculpture, terracotta figures. The famous Didarganj Yakshi of 3rd century BC and a 16m long fossilised tree are some of its special possessions.
Built at the old site of Sher Shah's fort, it has an excellent collection of jade, Chinese paintings, Mughal glass and silver filigree carvings. It is a private collection and visitors need prior permission.
It is the headquarters of Bihar Vidyapeeth, a national university. India's first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad lived here after his retirement and there is a small museum here displaying his personal belongings.
About 29 Km from Patna, Bari Dargah, is the cenotaph of the Sufi Saint Hazrat Makhdoom Yahiya Maner. The tomb of his disciple Shah Daulat is also here. It is an important pilgrimage place for Muslims during the annual urs.