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Patna is the capital and largest city of the state of Bihar in India. Patna is the second largest city in eastern India after Kolkata. It had an estimated population of 1.68 million in 2011, making it the 19th largest city in India. With over 2 million people, its urban agglomeration is the 18th largest in India. Patna also serves as the seat of Patna High Court.

One of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Patna was founded in 490 BCE by the king of Magadha. Ancient Patna, known as Pataliputra, was the capital of the Magadha Empire under the Haryanka, Nanda, Mauryan, Shunga, Gupta and Pala empires. Pataliputra was a seat of learning and fine arts. Its population during the Maurya period (around 300 BCE) was about 400,000.[9] Patna served as the seat of power, political and cultural centre of Indian subcontinent during the Maurya and Gupta empires. With the fall of Gupta Empire, Patna lost its glory. It was revived again in 17th century by the British as a centre of international trade. Following the partion of Bengal presidency in 1912, Patna became the capital of Bihar and Orissa province.

The modern city of Patna is situated on the southern bank of river Ganges. The city also straddles the rivers Sone, Gandak and Punpun. The city is approximately 35 kilometres (22 mi) in length and 16 to 18 kilometres (9.9 to 11.2 mi) wide. In June 2009, the World Bank ranked Patna second in India (after Delhi) for ease of starting a business.[12] As of 2015, Patna had the highest per capita gross domestic product in Bihar, at ?1,06,000 ($1581).[13][14][15] Using figures for assumed average annual growth, Patna is the 21st fastest growing city in the world and 5th fastest growing city in India according to a study by the City Mayors' Foundation. Patna registered an average annual growth of 3.72% during 2006-2010.

The Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain pilgrimage centres of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodh Gaya, and Pawapuri are nearby and Patna City is also a sacred city for Sikhs as the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was born here.

Etymology

The name of this city has changed with time. One of the oldest cities of India, there are several theories regarding the origin of the modern name Patna

It is etymologically derived from Patan (Devanagari: ?I??), the name of the Hindu goddess, Patan Devi

Patan Devi Mandir is still situated in old Patna near Gulzarbagh mandi along with another Patan Devi Mandir near Takht Sri Patna Sahib in Patna city.

Many believe Patna derived its name from Patli, a tree variety that was found in abundance in the historic city. The place is mentioned in Chinese traveller Fa Hien's records as Pa-lin-fou.

The city has been known by various names through more than 2,000 years of existence – Pataligrama, Pataliputra, Kusumapura, Kusumdhwaja Pushpapuram, Padmavathi, Azimabad and the present-day Patna.

Legend ascribes the origin of Patna to the mythological King Putraka who created Patna by magic for his queen Patali, literally "trumpet flower", which gives it its ancient name Pataligrama. It is said that in honour of the queen's first-born, the city was named Pataliputra. Gram is Sanskrit for village and Putra means son. Legend also says that the Emerald Buddha was created in Patna (then Pataliputra) by Nagasena in 43 BCE.

History

Ancient Era

Patna assumed importance and grandeur around 490 BCE[25][26] as Ajatashatru, the king of Magadha, wanted to shift his capital from the hilly Rajagrha (today's Rajgir) to a strategically located place to better combat the Licchavis of Vaishali.[27] He chose the site on the bank of the Ganges and fortified the area. Gautama Buddha travelled through this place in the last year of his life. He prophesied a great future for this place even as he predicted its ruin due to flood, fire and feud.

Street in Patna, 1825 (British, active in India)

In the years that followed, many dynasties ruled the Indian subcontinent from the city, including the Gupta dynasty and the Pala kings. With the disintegration of the Gupta empire, Patna passed through uncertain times. Bakhtiar Khilji captured Bihar in the 12th century and destroyed many ancient seats of learning, and Patna lost its prestige as the political and cultural centre of India.

Guru Gobind Singh (22 December 1666 – 7 October 1708), the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, was born as Gobind Rai in Patna to Teg Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, and his wife Gujri. His birthplace, Patna Sahib, is one of the most sacred sites of pilgrimage for Sikhs.

 

The Mughal period was a period of unremarkable provincial administration from Delhi.[36] The most remarkable period during the Middle Ages was under the Pathan emperor Sher Shah Suri, who revived Patna in the middle of the 16th century. He built a fort and founded a town on the banks of the Ganges. Sher Shah's fort in Patna does not survive, although the Sher Shah Suri mosque, built in Afghan architectural style, does. Mughal emperor Akbar reached Patna in 1574 to crush the rebellious Afghan Chief Daud Khan. One of the navratnas from Akbar's court, his official historian and author of "Ain-i-Akbari" Abul Fazl refers to Patna as a flourishing centre for paper, stone and glass industries. He also refers to the high quality of numerous strains of rice grown in Patna, famous as Patna rice in Europe.

 

By 1620, the city of Patna was being described as the "chefest mart towne of all Bengala (i.e. largest town in Bengal)[27][38] in northern India, "the largest town in Bengal and the most famous for trade".[39] This was before the founding of the city of Calcutta. Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb acceded to the request of his favourite grandson, Prince Muhammad Azim, to rename Patna as Azimabad, in 1704 while Azim was in Patna as the subedar. Patna or Azimabad did see some violent activities, according to Phllip Mason, writing in the book "The Men Who Ruled India". "Aurangzeb had restored the poll-tax (Jazia) on unbelievers and this had to be compounded for. In Patna, Peacock the Chief of the factory, was not sufficiently obliging and was seized, forced to walk through the town bare-headed and bare-footed and subjected to many other indignities before he paid up and was released." However, very little changed during this period other than the name. With the decline of the Mughal empire, Patna moved into the hands of the Nawabs of Bengal, who levied a heavy tax on the populace but allowed it to flourish as a commercial centre. The mansions of the Maharaja of Tekari Raj dominated the Patna river front in 1811-12.

British empire

During the 17th century, Patna became a centre of international trade.[38] In 1620, the English East India Company established a factory in Patna for trading in calico and silk. Soon it became a trading centre for saltpetre. Francois Bernier, in Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656–1668), says "...a prodigious quantity of saltpetre was imported from Patna. It was carried down the Ganges with great facility, and the Dutch and English sent large cargoes to many parts of the Indies, and to Europe". This trade encouraged other Europeans, principally the French, Danes, Dutch and Portuguese, to compete in the lucrative business. Peter Mundy, writing in 1632, described Patna as "the greatest mart of the eastern region".[36] After the decisive Battle of Buxar of 1764, as per the treaty of Allahabad East India Company was given the right to collect tax of this former Mughal province by the Mughal emperor. Patna was annexed by the company in 1793 to its territory when Nizamat(Mughal suzernaity) was abolished and British East India company took control of the province of Bengal-Bihar. Patna however continued as a trading centre.

In 1912, when the Bengal Presidency was partitioned, Patna became the capital of the British province of Bihar and Orissa, although in 1935 Orissa became a separate entity with its own capital.

Indian independence movement

People from Patna were greatly involved in the Indian independence movement.[43][44] Most notable movements were the Champaran movement against the Indigo plantation and the 1942 Quit India Movement.[45][46] National leaders who came from the city include Swami Sahajanand Saraswati, the first President of the Constituent Assembly of India : Dr. Rajendra Prasad; Bihar Vibhuti (Anugrah Narayan Sinha); Basawon Singh (Sinha); Loknayak (Jayaprakash Narayan);Dr. Sachidanand Singh Sri Krishna Sinha; Sheel Bhadra Yajee and Sarangdhar Sinha (Singh)

Post Independence

Patna remained the capital of Bihar after India gained independence in 1947, even as Bihar was partitioned again in 2000 when Jharkhand became a separate state of the Indian union.

On 27 October 2013, a series of co-ordinated bombings rocked the city at a massive election rally for BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Of the estimated 300,000 participants at the rally, six people were killed and 85 others were injured in eight bomb blasts carried out by Islamic extremists.[49] On 3 October 2014, 33 people were killed and 26 injured in a stampede at Gandhi Maidan during Vijaya Dashmi celebrations.

Economy

State Bank of India- Patna Regional office at East Gandhi Maidan Marg

Patna has long been a major agricultural hub and centre of trade . Its most active exports are grain, sugarcane, sesame, and medium-grained Patna rice. There are several sugar mills in and around Patna.[78] It is an important business and luxury brand centre of eastern India.

Reserve Bank of India's regional office at South Gandhi Maidan Marg, Patna

The economy of Patna has seen sustained economic growth since 2005. The economy has been spurred by growth in the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods industry, the service sector, along with Green revolution businesses.[79] In 2009, the World Bank stated Patna as the second best city in India to start up a business.[80] As of 2015, the per capita income of Patna is ?1,06,000 ($1581).

Patna is the 21st fastest growing city in the world, and the fifth fastest growing city in India, and is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 3.72%.

According to the 2011 census of India, Patna's major religion is Hinduism with 86.39% followers. Islam is second most popular religion in Patna with approximately 12.27% following it. Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism and Buddhism, with smaller followings, are also practised in Patna. During last census, around 0.01% stated other religion and approximately 0.49% stated no particular religion.[88]

Roughly 0.25% of Patna's population lives in slums which makes Patna, the city with the lowest percentage of people living in slum in India.[90] Like other fast-growing cities in the developing world, Patna suffers from major urbanisation problems including unemployment, poor public health and poor civic and educational standards for a large section of the population.[91] In 2015, the National Sample Survey Organisation revealed that, for females, Patna had highest unemployment rate 34.6% and for males it was the second highest with a rate of 8% in 2011-12.

Government and public services

Civic administration

The civic administration of Patna is run by several government agencies, and has overlapping structural divisions. At least five administrative definitions of the city are available; listed in ascending order of area, those are:

Patna division

the Patna Metropolitan Region (also known as Patna Planning area)

"Greater Patna" or PRDA area, which adds to the PMC area a few areas just adjacent to it

Transport and connectivity

Patna is located about 100 km south of national East – West Highway corridor. The NH 30, NH 31 and NH 2 passes through the town. The Ashok Rajpath, Patna-Danapur Road, Bailey Road, Harding Road and Kankarbagh old bypass Road are the major corridors.

Patna was one of the first places in India to use horse-drawn trams for public transport. Public transportation today is provided for by buses, auto rickshaws and local trains. Auto rickshaws are said to be the lifeline of the city. BSRTC has started City bus service on all major routes of Patna.

Air

Patna Airport (official name Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport) is classified as a restricted international airport.[149] The arrival of several low-cost carriers and a number of new destinations have caused a growth in air traffic in recent years, as has an improvement in the situation with regard to law and order.[150] For the period April to December 2009 the airport ranked first in a survey of 46 airports in the country in terms of percentage growth of domestic passengers as well as domestic aircraft movement.[151] The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has proposed to develop a civil enclave at Bihta Air Force Station to serve as the new airport for Patna. The military airfield lies 40 kilometres (25 mi) southwest of Patna, in Bihta.[152]

Rail

Patna is served by several railway stations located in different areas of the city. The Patna Junction railway station is the main railway station of the city, and one of the busiest railway stations in India.[153] Patna lies in between New Delhi and Kolkata on Howrah–Delhi main line, which is one of the busiest rail routes in India.[154] Patna Junction is directly connected to most of the major cities in India.[155] The city has four additional major railway stations: Rajendra Nagar Terminal (adjacent to Kankarbagh), Patliputra Junction (near Bailey road), Danapur (near western outskirts) and Patna Sahib (in Patna City area). Danapur is the divisional headquarters of East Central Railway zone's Danapur railway division. Patna is well connected with neighbouring Gaya, Jehanabad, Bihar Sharif, Rajgir, Islampur through daily passenger and express train services. India's longest road-cum-rail bridge, Ganga Rail–Road Bridge has been constructed across river Ganges, connecting Digha, Patna to Pahleja Ghat in Sonepur.[156] The bridge is expected to be completed in 2016,[157][158] when completed it will be 4.55 kilometres (2.83 mi) long and therefore the longest road cum rail bridge in India and one of the longest in the world.

Road

The city is served by several major road highways and state highways, including National Highways 19,[160] 30,[161] 31,[162] and 83.[163] Asia's longest river bridge, the Mahatma Gandhi Setu (built 1982), is located in Patna and connects the city to Hajipur across the Ganga. In recent times, the bridge has been witnessing major traffic chaos and accidents due to exceeding number of vehicles passing over it and regularly overloading the structure.[164] A new six lane road bridge across the Ganges parallel to Mahatma Gandhi Setu is proposed which would connect Kacchi Dargah in Patna City to Bidupur in Vaishali district,[165] which will be the longest bridge in India after completion.

Patna is 1,015 kilometres (631 mi) East from Delhi, 1,802 kilometres (1,120 mi) North East from Mumbai and 556 kilometres (345 mi) North West from Kolkata.[167] Luxury bus service between Patna and several neighbouring cities is provided by the Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation and the Bihar State Road Transport Corporation.[168] Auto Rikshaws are a popular mode of transportation. Prepaid auto services operated by an all-women crew was started in 2013 in Patna, which is the first of its kind in India. Radio Taxi services are also available within city limit as well as outskirts.

Rapid transit

Patna Metro is a planned rapid transit system for the city. It would be owned and operated by state run Patna Metro Rail Corporation.[173] It will be constructed on Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode, estimated to cost ?14,000 crore (US$2 billion).[174] It will have 5 lines with a total planned length of 60 kilometres (37 mi) km, which will be built in 3 phases.[175] Patna Monorail Project covering the municipal area is also underway.

Inland Waterways

The Ganges – navigable throughout the year – was the principal river highway across the vast north Indo-Gangetic Plain. Vessels capable of accommodating five hundred merchants were known to ply this river in the ancient period; it served as a major trade route, as goods were transported from Pataliputra to the Bay of Bengal and further, to ports in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. The role of the Ganges as a channel for trade was enhanced by its natural links – it embraces all the major rivers and streams in both north and south Bihar.

In recent times, Inland Waterways Authority of India has declared the stretch of river Ganges between Allahabad and Haldia National Inland Waterway and has taken steps to restore and maintain its navigability. The National Waterway-1, the longest Waterway in India, stretches 1620 km in the River Ganga from Allahabad to Haldia via Varanasi, Munger, Bhagalpur passes through Patna.[178] This National Waterways has fixed terminal at Patna.[179] In September 2014, a luxury cruise called ‘MV Rajmahal’ from Patna to Varanasi was launched by the state-based Assam Bengal Navigation Company (ABN)

Culture

Holi being played in the courtyard, ca 1795 painting. Patna style Inscribed on the back of the drawing is: 'No.4. The Gift of E.E. Pote Esqr. Elizath Collins.

Patna’s native language is Magahi or Magadhi a language derived from the ancient Magadhi Prakrit,[181] which was created in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, the core of which was the area of Patna south of the Ganges. It is believed to be the language spoken by Gautama Buddha.[182] It was the official language of the Mauryan court, in which the edicts of Ashoka were composed.

The name Magahi is directly derived from the name Magadhi Prakrit, and educated speakers of Magahi prefer to call it "Magadhi" rather than "Magahi".

Patna has many buildings adorned with Indo-Islamic and Indo-Saracenic architectural motifs. Several well-maintained major buildings from the colonial period have been declared "heritage structures";[186][187] others are in various stages of decay.[188] Established in 1917 as the Bihar’s first museum, the Patna Museum houses large collections that showcase Indian natural history and Indian art. The Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library and Sinha Library are historic public libraries of Patna.

Several theatres are located in or near the central part of the city, including the Bhartiya Nritya Kala Mandir, the Rabindra Parishad, Premchand Rangshala and the Kalidas Rangalaya, which is home to the Bihar art theatre. Kalidas Rangalaya also hosts the Patliputra Natya Mahotsav, a dance festival. But in the last two decades, the popularity of commercial theatres in the city has declined.

The Patna School of Painting or Patna Qalaam, some times also called Company style, is an offshoot of the well-known Mughal Miniature school of painting, which flourished in Bihar during the early 18th to the mid-20th centuries.[194] The practitioners of this art form were descendants of Hindu artisans of Mughal painting who facing persecution under the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb and who found refuge, via Murshidabad, in Patna during the late 18th century. The Patna painters differed from the Mughal painters, whose subjects included only royalty and court scenes, in that they included as subjects bazaar scenes, scenes of Indian daily life, local dignitaries, festivals and ceremonies, and nature scenes. The paintings were executed in watercolours on paper and on mica, but the style was generally of a hybrid and undistinguished quality. It is this school of painting that inspired the formation of the College of Arts and Crafts, Patna, under the leadership of Shri Radha Mohan, which is an important centre of fine arts in Bihar.

A regular Bihari meal consists of daal, bhaat (rice), roti, tarkari (vegetables) etc. Bihari cuisine is predominantly vegetarian because traditional Bihar society, influenced by Buddhist and Hindu values of non-violence, did not eat eggs, chicken, fish and other non-vegetarian fare. However, there is also a tradition of meat-eating, and fish dishes are especially common due to the number of rivers in Bihar. There are also numerous Bihari meat dishes, with chicken and mutton being the most common.

Some well known dishes of Bihari cuisine include sattu paratha (parathas stuffed with fried gram flour), chokha (spicy mashed potatoes), fish curry, Bihari kebab, postaa-dana kaa halwaa, malpua, dal pitha (Bihari version of momos), kheer makhana (fox nut) and thekua/khajuria (a type of snack).

Street foods such as Samosa,[198] Chaat, litti chokha, phuchka (a deep-fried crêpe with tamarind sauce), South Indian and Chinese cuisine are favourite among Patnaites.

Bihari Women have traditionally worn sari but shalwar kameez and other western attire are gaining acceptance among younger women.[200] Western attire has gained wide acceptance among the urban men, although the traditional dhoti and kurta[201] are seen during festivals. Chhath, also called Dala Chhath, is a major ancient festival in Bihar.[202] It is celebrated twice a year: once in the summer, called the Chaiti Chhath, and once about a week after Deepawali, called the Kartik Chhath. Durga Puja, held in September–October, is Patna's another important festival; it is an occasion for glamorous celebrations.[203][204] Among the city's other festivals, are Saraswati Puja, Eid, Holi, Christmas, Vishwakarma Puja, Makar Sankranti, Raksha Bandhan and Rath Yatra. Cultural events include the Patna Book Fair, Patna Sahib Mahotsav, the Patna Film Festival, Bihar Diwas, Rajgir Mahotsav, Vaishali Mahotsav and the Sonepur Cattle Fair in neighbouring towns.

Tourism

Golghar was originally built to serve as a granary for the British East India company army during the famine of 1786. It now features an observation deck overlooking the Ganges and the city.

Patna is home to many tourist attractions and it saw about 2.4 million tourists (including day visitors) in 2005. Tourists visiting the city accounted for 41% of the total number of tourists visiting Bihar although Bodh Gaya was the most popular destination for foreign visitors.

The cultural heritage of Bihar is reflected in its many ancient monuments. Kumhrar and Agam Kuan are the sites of the ruins of the Ashokan Pataliputra. Didarganj Yakshi remains as an example of Mauryan art.

Takht Sri Patna Sahib is one of the Five Takhts of Sikhism and consecrates the birthplace of the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Gobind Singh.[207] There are five other Gurdwaras in Patna which are related to different Sikh Gurus; these are Gurdwara Pahila Bara,[208] Gurdwara Gobind Ghat, Gurdwara Guru ka Bagh,[210] Gurdwara Bal Leela[211] and Gurdwara Handi Sahib.

Padri Ki Haveli, High Court, Golghar and Secretariat Building are examples of British architecture. Gandhi Maidan is a historic ground in Patna where several freedom movement rallies took place. Newly built Buddha Smriti Park near Patna Junction is also becoming a major tourist attraction.

The Patna Planetarium Indira Gandhi Planetarium is located in Patna's Indira Gandhi Science Complex. This is one of the largest planetariums in Asia. It attracts a large number of domestic as well as foreign tourists.

Recently, the Bihar government announced plans to build a state-of-the-art art landmark museum in Patna at a cost of approximately ?530 crores on a site of 13.9 acres at Bailey Road. 5 firms were shortlisted for the architectural design, of which the Japanese firm Maki and Associates was chosen. As of 2016, the museum had been partially opened and is scheduled to be completed shortly.