When you think of travelling, Bihar is not the state that often comes to the mind of people. Lost somewhere in the politics and stereotypes of being unsafe is a gem of a place just waiting to be explored. Starting off with Patna, the capital city of Bihar, we will explore some of the unexplored gems that Bihar has to offer.
The rich history and traditions of Patna trace their roots to the earliest stages of human civilisation. Originally known as Pataliputra or Patalipattan, the city’s historical journey commences as far back as the 6th century B.C. Over the ages, Patna’s name evolved through various iterations, including Pataligram, Kusumpur, Patliputra, and Azimabad, before ultimately settling on Patna.
In the 4th century A.D., Patna gained prominence when it became the capital under the rule of Chandragupta Maurya. Thereafter, the city experienced a decline in importance until the emergence of Sherkhan Suri (Sher Shah Suri) in the early 16th century A.D.
Another historical narrative suggests the existence of a village called Pattan or Patthan, which later transformed into the city of Patna. It is believed that Ajatashatru was the founder of Pataliputra, solidifying Patna’s close association with the ancient Pataliputra. The ancient village was originally named ‘Patali,’ with ‘Pattan’ later added to it.
Interestingly, even Greek history mentions ‘Palibothra,’ which is believed to be synonymous with the ancient city of Pataliputra itself.
On the outskirts of Patna, easily accessible as day trips, are the pilgrimage sites of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodh Gaya, and Pawapuri, steeped in Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain history. Additionally, Patna City holds special significance for Sikhs as the birthplace of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh.
Amidst the recent surge in development and industrialisation, Patna stands as a captivating blend of modern and rich historical heritage. To experience this unique fusion, here’s a list of must-visit places in Patna that extend beyond its historical landmarks and museums, offering a deeper exploration of the city’s diverse character.
Built in 1978, Srikrishna Science Centre remains one of the most important places you can visit on your trip to Patna. A magnificent, well-constructed and equipped science centre is home to a huge collection of extraordinary exhibitions of principles from the realm of science. The centre offers engaging and interactive self-learning experiences in a fun way for both kids and adults. Besides its permanent science galleries with many hands-on exhibits, it also hosts educational programs and activities, primarily for students, to nurture their interest in science through informal teaching methods.
The place remains open throughout the week, and the visiting hours are from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM.
Location: West Gandhi Maidan, Raja Ji Salai, Dujra Diara, Patna
If you are a history enthusiast, then you should definitely check out the Bihar Museum in Patna. Inaugurated in 2015, the museum provides a glimpse into the state’s history and ancient culture. You can find artefacts dating back to the century-old Patna Museum, as well as exhibits and information about human history. The museum covers 5.6 hectares of land and consists of various buildings with galleries, educational spaces, and administrative areas.
The museum holds a vast array of historical artefacts spanning from the earliest civilisations to the year 1764. Additionally, it showcases traditional, folk, and contemporary art forms. Visitors can explore a dedicated Children’s Gallery and even find a souvenir shop to take home a piece of Bihar’s cultural heritage.
The museum remains closed on Mondays. The other days, the Galleries remain open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Children’s Gallery, Children’s Café, Museum Shop, and Library remain open from 10 AM to 7 PM, and the Restaurant remains open from 10 AM to 9:30 PM.
Entry Fee: Children: INR 50, Adults: INR 100, Foreigners: INR 500. After 5 PM you can get a special evening discounted ticket.
Location: Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, Bailey Road, Patna
The Patna Planetarium, also known as the Indira Gandhi Planetarium, is located in the heart of the city. It’s one of the oldest and biggest planetariums in Asia and a popular tourist spot in Patna, drawing many visitors every year. The planetarium opened in 1993 and was inaugurated by the former Chief Minister of Bihar, Shri Lalu Prasad Yadav.
Inside, you’ll find a modern projection system and a well-designed auditorium. The auditorium hosts various film shows related to astronomy, making it a renowned attraction in Patna. At the planetarium, you can learn about astronomy and planets, making it a great place for both entertainment and education. It’s especially wonderful for children who want to explore the wonders of the universe.
The planetarium remains closed on Monday. For the rest of the days of the week, the visiting hours are 10 AM to 5:30 PM. There is an entry fee of Rs 50 for everyone, including kids above three years.
Location: New Dak Bungalow Rd, Near Income Tax Office, Adalatganj, Kidwaipuri, Patna
Locally known as Sanjay Gandhi Jaivik Udyan, this botanical garden is often referred to as the Patna Zoo. It’s a fantastic place for students, couples and families with kids to visit in Patna, offering a wide variety of plants and animals to explore.
Originally, it started as a Botanical Garden in 1970 on a 34-acre piece of land within the Governor’s campus, generously provided by Shri Nityanand Kanoongo, the then Governor of Bihar. The garden was overseen by the Divisional Forest Officer from the Gaya Forest Division.
In 1972, the name was changed to Biological Park by the Department of Forests, Bihar Government, and it came under the administrative control of the Working Plan Officer, Magadh Circle, Patna. Over time, additional land, approximately 118.95 acres, was added from the Revenue Department and Public Works Department, bringing the total area of the Biological Park to approximately 153 acres. The additional land was designated as a Protected Forest by the State Government.
The State Government recognised the park/zoo service as an ‘Essential Service’ under the Bihar Essential Services Maintenance Act. In 1980, the name was officially changed to Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park in honour of the great conservationist and leader Sanjay Gandhi. Visitors, including couples and families with children, can enjoy exciting activities here, such as elephant rides and rides on a toy train. It’s a wonderful place to experience the beauty of nature and wildlife in Patna.
The Zoo remains closed on Monday. From March to October, the timings are 5 AM to 6 PM, and from November to February, the timings are 6 AM to 5 PM.
The Entry fee for Adults is INR 30, for Kids – INR 10; for student Groups- INR 5 each, a minimum of 10 students are required; and for adult groups- INR 25 each, a minimum of 10 adults are required.
Location: Raj Bhavan, Bailey Road, Rajbansi Nagar, Patna
Gandhi Ghat, situated along the Ganges River, is a well-known religious site and a major tourist attraction in Patna. It holds historical significance as the final resting place of Mahatma Gandhi’s ashes, which were immersed here.
The highlight of this picturesque location is the Ganga Aarti ceremony. During this mesmerising ritual, a group of priests dressed in saffron robes offer prayers with 51 lamps, creating a captivating and spiritual atmosphere. Visiting Gandhi Ghat and witnessing the Ganga Aarti are among the top things to do in Patna, offering a unique blend of history, spirituality, and cultural experience.
Gandhi Ghat remains open throughout the year, and there are no timing restrictions there. With the entry being free, you can enjoy this serene location any time of the day.
Golghar, located in the heart of Patna, is a historic structure built in 1786 by Captain John Garstin. Initially constructed as a storehouse in response to the devastating famine of 1770, Golghar has become a significant landmark in the city.
This unique monument stands out for several reasons. It is pillarless and has a thick base wall measuring 3.6 meters, with a towering height of 29 meters. To reach the top of Golghar, visitors can ascend via a spiral staircase consisting of 145 steps. This spiral design was intended to aid workers in carrying their loads up and then descending through a hole at the top.
Golghar offers a spectacular panoramic view of Patna and the nearby Ganges River from its summit. Surrounded by the natural beauty of Patna, this massive structure is an interesting destination for those seeking tranquillity and a glimpse of the city’s scenic charm. It’s a must-visit spot for anyone exploring Patna’s historical and architectural treasures.
The place remains open throughout the year, and the visiting hours are 10 AM to 5 PM. There is no entry fee to visit this place.
Location: Opp.-Govt. Girls High School, Ashok Rajpath, Patna
Mahavir Mandir, also known as Manokamna Temple, is a significant religious site in North India. It houses the second-largest religious shrine in the region and is devoted to Lord Hanuman. The temple attracts thousands of pilgrims year-round.
Lord Hanuman is often referred to as Sankat Mochan, which means the reliever of troubles. Devotees believe that Hanuman listens to their prayers and helps them overcome difficulties. This is why the temple is affectionately known as Manokamna Mandir by the local people, as it is a place where devotees come to seek the fulfilment of their heartfelt wishes and prayers. It holds great spiritual significance and is a revered destination for those seeking blessings and solace.
It is now possible to get the naivedyam prasad from the Manokamna mandir, delivered right to your home anywhere in India.
The temple remains open throughout the year, and the timings for darshan are from 6 AM to 12 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM.
Location: Railway junction near Patna
Gandhi Maidan, located near the banks of the Ganges River, is a historic and prominent location in the city. It’s conveniently close to Golghar and approximately 3 kilometres from the city centre. As visitors approach, they can’t miss the world’s tallest Mahatma Gandhi statue, which stands tall in this lively area. Surrounding the ground, there is a bustling marketplace, adding to the vibrant atmosphere of the place. Mostly used for holding political and social gatherings, Gandhi Maidan is not only a historical landmark but also a lively hub of activity in the city.
It remains open 24 hours, and there is no entry fee to visit the maidan.
Location: North-West Area of Gandhi Maidan Road, Patna
Patna is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway or a spontaneous picnic lunch. While exploring the city’s various attractions, the serene grounds of Eco Park provide a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Whether you’re travelling alone or with your family, you’ll find extensive green spaces to appreciate, and there’s even a nearby park where children can have a great time playing. Patna offers a perfect blend of relaxation and recreation for visitors of all kinds.
The park remains open throughout the year, and the visiting hours are 8 AM to 7 PM.
Location: Jawaharlal Nehru Marg, Rajbansi Nagar, Patna
Accessible easily from major cities in Bihar and other states, Patna is well-connected by air, rail and road to other parts of the country.
Located within the city, the Loknayak Jayaprakash Airport at Patna is well-connected by flights to major Indian cities, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bengaluru, and Kolkata, among others. You can easily hail a cab from the airport to reach major tourist attractions in the city.
The Patna junction, located in the heart of the city, is a major hub of trains to hundreds of destinations. With several Rajdhanis and other major trains halting at the station, you can board trains to New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata from Patna Junction. From the station, you can take a cab or auto to reach your destination.
Patna is well connected by road to nearby cities within Bihar and even other neighbouring states. Several state-run buses depart from Patna to several cities of Bihar. You can also travel to other states from Patna via road.