Located on the southern bank of the Holy Ganges, Patna , the capital of Bihar, is the largest city in Eastern India after Kolkata. It is one of the oldest centers of human civilization in the history of the world and was the seat of the mighty Magadha kingdom. During the days when Magadha thrived as an empire under several dynasties like the Haryankas, Shisunagas, Nandas, Mauryas, Sungas, Kanvas, Guptas, Palas amongst others, Patna was known as Pataliputra.
Being a melting pot for diversified culture, fusion of various religions and numerous historical monuments Patna is well-known among the tourists. It is a gateway to the Buddhist and Jain pilgrim centers of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Kesariya and Pawapuri.
Among the several stories regarding how Patna is known as Patna, one is that Pataliputra was created by the King Putraka for his Queen, Patali. He named the place Pataligram for her. When she had their first son, the city was renamed Pataliputra. According to another tale, the name is considered to be descended from Patan Devi, a Hindu goddess. The third one story states that the name came from the Sanskrit word ‘Pattan’ meaning port for the city is situated near the confluence of four rivers.
The city of Pataliputra is also believed to have been built in 490 BC by Ajatshatru. It, however, was originally a small fort known as Pataligram. The capital of the vast Gupta Empire was Pataliputra or the present day city of Patna, Bihar.
The central location of the city of Pataliputra was ideal for the rulers to establish their administrative capital here. Pataliputra also acted as a base for the Gupta Empire to expand the territories of the empire around the capital.
The abundance of iron ore in the areas falling under present day state of Jharkhand made it easier for the rulers to keep their armies well-equipped. This too was one of the major reasons behind the formidable might of the Magadha Kingdom. Be it Dhananand or Ashoka, Magadha Kings were the worst nightmares for their contemporaries.
It was only due to the fear of Dhananand’s army that Alexander, the Great, was forced to flee even before crossing the Indus. The prowess of Ashoka, or better to say, Chanda Ashoka, has been known to one and all. It was the same fear that kept foes away even as Ashoka converted to Buddhism and became Dhamma Ashoka shunning violence. No one would have risked to irk the man-beast inside him.
Pataliputra was also one of the important educational centers during the Gupta dynasty period. Pataliputra remained a stronghold of the Magadha Empire until its decline. Pataliputra was also an important place as far as carrying out of trade and commerce activities of the Magadha Empire. During the reign of Chandragupta II (375- 415 CE), Ujjain, earlier the capital of Avanti, became the second capital of the Gupta Empire.
Modern-day Patna is a city where all the religions are practised altogether. That too, harmoniously! There is a 400 years old mosque known as Patthar ki Masjid, a historical church known as Paderi ki Haweli, Patan Devi Temple and Patna Sahib (the birth place of 10th Sikh Guru, Guru Govind Singh). A secular place in a true sense. Presently, it is the only place in the country to flaunt an IIT, an NIT and an AIIMS centre with most of its citizens progressive.
A place worth visiting.