Once the capital of the Mauryan and Gupta Empires, Patna is an exciting amalgamation of several empires and religions, including Jainism, Buddhism and Hinduism. It is also the birthplace of the 10th guru of the Sikh religion and an ancient city where some of the greatest emperors of the subcontinent lived. Today, Patna is one of the fastest growing cities in the country and is an important place to understand the many different cultures that have influenced the city.
Best time to visit: The ideal time to explore Patna is from October to February.
How to reach
By Air: Jai Prakash Narayan International Airport is the nearest airport, located 8km away from the city. IndiGo operates more than 100 weekly, non-stop flights between Patna and other key locations in the country.
By Train: Patna Junction is the main railway station serving the city and is well-connected to the rest of the country through various significant trains like Magadh, Brahmaputra, Rajdhani among others.
By Bus: Patna has a good network of network of buses run by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, connecting the city with neighbouring cities and towns.
Getting around: Auto-rickshaws known as Tempos are the most popular mode of transportation among locals. Also, there are regular buses on specific routes operated by Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation.
This stalwart of the Patna culinary scene has completed a decade and remains a favourite all-around dining experience. Serving classic North Indian dishes, they mix it up with a varied Asian menu including a few Pakistani dishes.
This vegetarian favourite is the place to go if you are looking for some honest to goodness south Indian fare. Of course, they also do the regular north Indian and Chinese stuff.
This always-crowded little restaurant serves up some of the best biryani in town, including a Kolkata-style preparation, a Patna favourite.
If you are craving something fancier, head down to Spice Court at Hotel Maurya for some excellent Indian, pan-Asian and Continental cuisine with an excellent bar menu and dessert selection.
If you are looking for a place to kick back with a drink and take in Patna from above, make your way up to this 18th floor-revolving restaurant that like its counterparts across north India brings you food of Punjab in a rustic ambience. 360-degree views of the city including Gandhi Stadium and the Ganga are a bonus.
The in-house restaurant at The Panache matches the overall quality of the premium hotel, in which it is located. This is the place you want to entertain in if you are aiming to impress.
Most well-known for the famous Madhubani paintings, a visit to Patna is incomplete without buying one of these treasures. If you can’t make it to the town of Madhubani, to see the paintings on the village walls, head to Ajanta a little boutique store on Fraser Road for an excellent collection of paintings on different mediums. You can also check out the emporiums at Maurya Lok, for their Madhubani style of work on handicrafts, lamps, wall hangings, etc. For a more street experience, head to the famous Hathua Market, one of the oldest street markets in the city that sell everything from colourful footwear to kitschy souvenirs.
Hotel Maurya, Fraser Road Centrally located within walking distance from Gandhi Maidan, Patna’s best hotel is the place to go for those seeking luxury in Bihar’s capital. The large garden, pool and well-stocked bar complement the elegant rooms.
The Panache, South Gandhi Maidan A new and contemporary hotel considered to be amongst Patna’s best, The Panache boasts of a central location with great rooms, excellent food and excellent service.
The Samarpan Nesh Inn, Kidwaipuri A solid mid-range option in Patna, what this hotel lacks in location, it makes up for in the quality of hospitality, rooms and service, with all the modern amenities that come with a newer hotel.
The New Republic Hotel, Bakarganj Located in a bustling market area in a lane off Gandhi Maidan, the New Republic Hotel offers modern rooms with excellent amenities at a mid-range price. The location is perfect to explore Patna by foot.
Hotel Chanakya, Karbighiya The Chanakya, conveniently located between the airport and city centre and close to the train station is ideal for business and leisure travellers alike looking for a comfortable, refined stay and quality service. The in-house restaurant, Takshila, is a Patna favourite.
Kumhrar: Home to several empires, Patna, or Pataliputra as it was known earlier, has impressive ruins strewn in and around the city. Kumhrar, site of the ancient town has very little left of its previous glory, except for a Mauryan Hall, which was once supported by 80 sandstone pillars, of which only one remains intact.
Sher Shah Suri Masjid: For a different time in history, make your way to the Sher Shah Suri Masjid, built in the Afghani style of architecture by the ruler in 1545 to commemorate his reign.
Bihar is an essential confluence of historical and religious events, which makes Patna the perfect place to base oneself to visit these sites. Head north of the Ganga through small villages to the ruins of Vaishali, one of the earliest republics dating back to 6 BC, where the Buddha preached his last sermon. It is also the birthplace of Lord Mahavir and essential to the Jain community. 105km south of Patna is the historical town of Rajgir, which holds the 40m Vishwa Shanti Stupa, or Peace Stupa built by the Japanese Buddhist order that stands atop the Ratnagiri Hill. From Rajgir, you can also visit the well-maintained and serene ruins of the 5th century Nalanda University, which gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 2016. Don’t miss the Xuan Zang Memorial Hall built by the Chinese in honour of the famous traveller who walked to India and studied and taught at Nalanda.
For love of the written word, take a trip to the George Orwell Museum, dedicated to the author of 1984 fame, in the tiny town of Motihari, en-route to Nepal. From Motihari take a short bus ride to the largest stupa in the world, the enormous 104ft Kesariya Stupa, built on the site where Buddha gave away his begging bowl. There are many terraces with Buddha statues may of which might have got disfigured over time. For that much-needed peace and meditation, spend a few days in Bodh Gaya, and be spoilt for choice from the number of serene temples built by Buddhist countries. The most hallowed spot is the Bodhi tree inside the famous Mahabodhi Temple complex. The best time to visit is from December to January when Tibetan pilgrims and HH Dalai Lama come from Dharamsala.