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Overview

As the capital of the dusty state of Bihar, Patna lies well off the mainstream tourist radar, but it wasn't always this way. During the time of the Emperor Ashoka, Pataliputra (the original name for Patna) was the largest city in the world, attracting trade from across the globe — the ancient Greeks even had an ambassador here. Today, the ruins of the ancient city lie buried beneath a burgeoning Indian metropolis but the treasures of the rulers of Pataliputra can still be seen in the city's excellent museums. The rest of Bihar is arid, impoverished, and occasionally lawless, but a steady stream of pilgrims passes through Patna en route to ...

As the capital of the dusty state of Bihar, Patna lies well off the mainstream tourist radar, but it wasn't always this way. During the time of the Emperor Ashoka, Pataliputra (the original name for Patna) was the largest city in the world, attracting trade from across the globe — the ancient Greeks even had an ambassador here. Today, the ruins of the ancient city lie buried beneath a burgeoning Indian metropolis but the treasures of the rulers of Pataliputra can still be seen in the city's excellent museums. The rest of Bihar is arid, impoverished, and occasionally lawless, but a steady stream of pilgrims passes through Patna en route to Bodhgaya, where the Buddha achieved enlightenment, and other Buddhist pilgrimage sites scattered across the countryside. Patna is also a beacon for Sikh pilgrims, who come to pay their respects at the Har Mandir Takht, one of the four holiest shrines in the Sikh religion. For Western travelers, Patna offers a handy back-route to the plains of Nepal — buses run daily to Raxaul Bazaar and the border crossing at Birganj.

Joe Bindloss
About the Expert

Joe Bindloss has written more than 30 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, Time Out and other publishers, with a focus on Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and island nations.

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Joe Bindloss for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Located in the state of Bihar, eastern India, on the Ganges River.
  • Language: Hindi, Urdu, English
  • Currency: Indian Rupee
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    October to March; avoid May and June, when soaring temperatures are followed by torrential monsoon rains.