Let’s Discover the Unconventional Travel Destination: Patna
Patna is not your typical dream destination. While the state is slowly shedding its negative image and we felt quite safe, infrastructure development has a long way to go and tourism is extremely under-developed. The main bridges across the Ganga, that divides the state in half, are all in and around Patna and all roads (and train tracks) run through this ancient city!
Once the capital of the Mauryan and Gupta Empire, Patna is an interesting amalgamation of several empires and religions. 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 sub continent lived. Today Patna, one of the fastest growing cities in the country, is an important place to understand the many different cultures that flowed through this region. Let’s discover patna.
Khuda Baksh Oriental Library
What a wonder this is! Opened to the public in 1891, this important library contains a fantastic collection of Oriental, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, paintings and the sword of Nadir Shah. The library also contains the only books to survive the sacking of the Moorish University of Cordoba in Spain. Many of the 4,000 books are first editions copies and still others are only surviving versions of books on science and the arts from several hundred years ago, all carefully preserved in a temperature controlled room.
The extensive Patna Museum is one of the most important things to see, to get a quick crash course in the many empires and cultures that the region was home to. Housed in a building as majestic as its contents, there is a superb collection of Mauryan and Gupta stone sculptures, Buddhist statues, Tibetan cloth paintings and more. Don’t miss the sacred casket believed to hold some of Buddhas ashes and the 16m long fossilised tree, though many of these old relics are slowly being moved to the new, modern, state of the art Bihar Museum, opened only in 2015 which aims to bring into focus the history and culture of the region. There is the Buddha Museum housed there which beautifully encapsulates the life and journey of the Buddha in the form of pictures, paintings and audio-visuals.
Probably the site which Patna is most famous for, the Golghar is a 230 year old British era granary built to avoid a repeat of the great famine of 1770. The huge bulbous structure now sits in the middle of a park by the Gandhi maidan and you can climb its 145 spiral steps to get to the top from where workers would empty grain in through a opening in the the roof. The view of the city and the Ganga from the top is spectacular, or so we are told, we couldn’t get up there as the structure is being restored.