Famous for its exquisite rice, Bihar's capital city buzzes with energy. Long a center of the Magadha Kingdom, Patna boasts historic places, great food, and day trips to entertain anyone who visits.
In ancient times, Patna was known as Pataliputra, and it was one of the world's largest cities. Nowadays, you can tour the city's ruins and see artifacts from its palaces in the excellent Patna Museum.
There are plenty of other museums to visit too, not least the Bihar Museum, which has a superb sculpture collection, and the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library with its ancient Persian manuscripts.
Try Bihari delicacies like kadhi bari dumplings in hot sauce, khichdi vegetable curries, or distinctive mutton kebabs.
Places like Ajanta are treasure troves of traditional Madhubani art, while you'll also find colorful Sujini quilts and delicately lacquered boxes.
When you stay in Patna you can easily reach Bodh Gaya - the famous spot where Buddha achieved enlightenment, as well as the gardens of Rajgir, and the Nepali border isn't far away either.
Located approximately 5 kilometers from Patna, Kumrahar provides a deep and detailed insight into the lively history of India and bears witness to the rich culture of ancient Pataliputra. Currently, this site is filled with the Mauryan palace archaeological remains. The Mauryan pillared hall was brought to light in an early excavation that took place between 1912-1915. View ancient utensils, copper coins, stone and terracotta beads, ornaments and more.
Located right in the heart of the city center, the Patna Museum is filled with 45,000 unique and historic artifacts. It was built in the year 1917 and is recognized as the city's oldest museum. The museum's construction features notable styles of architecture in a design by renowned architects Mughal and Rajput. All the thousands of artifacts cannot be displayed due to space constraints. The museum's floors are divided into various galleries, including the stone sculpture, natural history, and Indian stone art galleries. Let your mind wander into the past with the magnificent displays, sculptures, and paintings within the Patna Museum.
Featuring a close resemblance to the Stupa style of architecture, Golghar is indeed a one-of-a-kind structure. It was built by a skilled architect by the name of Captain John Garstin to act as a granary. It is 125 meters wide, 29 meters high and the wall at the base is a stupendous 3.6 meters thick due to the pillar-less construction. Golghar held the title of the tallest building in its day. To get to the top of the granary, you have to ascend the 'endless' flight of steps. The view from the top of the town and the majestic Ganges is delightful.
Situated strategically next to the banks of the River Ganges, the Jalan Museum was built in 1919. Established by the businessman and art collector Diwan Bahadur Radha Krishna Jalan, it was constructed in an English and Dutch style of architecture. Before embarking on its construction, Jalan acquired a section of the Quila Fort to house his collection. Today that collection includes furniture, sculptures, stone idols, glass, terracotta, porcelain and ivory artifacts. As the Jalan Museum is privately owned, it is necessary to make a booking prior to your visit.
Otherwise known as Patna Zoo, the Sanjay Gandhi Botanical Garden covers a total of 153 acres, making it one of the country's biggest zoos. It was founded in 1969 and serves as home to over 110 wild animal species, a total of approximately 800 animals in all, including tigers, lions, bears, rhinos, peacocks and many more. There are also over 300 species of trees, herbs, and other plants. This is a family-friendly attraction complete with a miniature railway and boating for the children.
Generally, the best time to visit is between October and February, when the weather isn't too hot, and you won't be drenched by the monsoon.
Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport (PAT) has links to major international hubs like Delhi and Mumbai. A pre-booked taxi into town will cost around ₹400.
Patna Junction is connected to all major northern Indian cities (though it's a 17-hour journey from New Delhi).
From Delhi, take the Expressway as far as Lucknow, take highway 30 to Raebareli, then highway 31 all the way to Patna.
Seven different companies run bus services from Delhi to Patna, so take your pick (but it's advisable to choose an air-conditioned option).
Patna has some truly luxurious hotels to choose from, including the Hotel Maurya, with its pair of pools, and the reliable Hotel Patliputra Continental.
Maurya Lok - just north of the city center, Maurya Lok is the place to head to find craft souvenirs (and much more besides).
Fraser Road Area - another central neighborhood, Fraser Road is home to the Buddha Smriti Museum, as well as some great eateries like Moti Mahal Delux.
Mali Tola - for some open space and fresh air, head to Mali Tola, which is home to the excellent Patna Golf Club and the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park.
BSTDC runs buses across Patna, including to Bodh Gaya. Fares start at ₹60.
Taxi rates vary depending on vehicle type, but the cheapest official rate is around ₹15 per mile.
Car rental options in Patna include Car4Hires and Akbar Travels, and you can find deals for ₹400 per day (or book a driver for ₹950).
Central Patna is the place to shop for gifts, and most of the stores are clustered around Maurya Lok, but there are malls as well, like P&M Mall.
Supermarkets include 9 to 9 and Daily Needs, where 12 eggs will cost you approximately ₹60.
If you want to try authentic bihari kebabs or curries, try Pind Balluchi, Takshila, or Baba Hotel. And don't miss the sambar (vegetable curry) at Bansi Vihar either. Expect cheap, high-quality food, with meals costing around ₹150-200.