The city of Patna – once called Pataliputra – is the capital and largest city of Bihar, a state in eastern India. It has a rich history that stretches back over thousands of years, and also houses numerous historical and archaeological sites. It was the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh guru. Founded all the way back in 490 BC, it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world and currently has a population of more than 1 million. Situated near the Ganges River as well as the Ghaghara, Gandak, Punpun and Sone, Patna boasts very fertile alluvial soils. The city sports a typical Southeast Asian climate with its warm temperatures, high humidity and seasonal monsoons (that typically start from June to September).
Today, Patna is one of India’s most rapidly growing cities and is also the gateway to various pilgrimage destinations like Vaisali, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Pawapuri and more.
The most plentiful form of transportation for getting around Patna is the rickshaw, available in both cycle and auto forms. Cheaper than getting a cab, rickshaws also offer a more fun and authentic experience for tourists. With locals who speak both Hindi and English, don’t worry about being lost in translation and just sit back to enjoy the breezy ride.
Otherwise, renting a car from the airport or various car rental companies scattered around the city is also a great way to see the city and go further out to explore the beautiful region.
What to see and do
A city with a history as long as Patna naturally gathers some historical and cultural gems in its lifetime. If you’re in Patna, don’t miss the Catholic church Padri Ki Haveli. Built in 1772, it is the oldest church in the state of Bihar and has withstood many attacks on its infrastructure throughout the years. Today, it stands as an architectural wonder and is also famously known as the church where Mother Teresa completed her apprenticeship in nursing, making it an extremely popular tourist destination.
The Khuda Baksh Oriental Library is another must-see site rich with culture and history. It was opened in year 1891 and contains a huge collection of extremely rare books, paintings from the Mugal and Rajput era, as well as Arabic and Persian manuscripts, some of which had been collected as far as Cordoba in Spain. It was declared an institute of national importance in 1969, and its value is acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture in India. On top of books and manuscripts, it also contains audio and video tapes on prominent people in Asia’s history as well as a collection of letters written by them.
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