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Patna - An Introduction
Beneath the din & bustle of every day life, Patna, the capital of Bihar State, has a fascinating past. And in each chapter of its history, it has been crowned by a new name-Kusumpur, Pushpapur, Patliputra and Azeemabad.
The last two year have seen a rapid transformation coming to Patna. Patna has shaken off its image as a city that was only mentioned in whispers. The Only State Capital in the country with a large variety of historical monuments from Maurya to Gupta age and down to the Colonial British Rule - Patna could not attract domestic and foreign tourists in the recent past because of circumstances not of its own making.
Patna of 2007 is radically different from Patna of 2004. There is certainly a new excitement creeping in. In the past couple of years, enough guesthouses, hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, and clubs have opened to support the city's new role: not merely a place to unwind but a hub to explore the emerging new emerging economic opportunities in the region as well as a gateway to the Buddhist & Jain plgrim centres of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya & Pawapuri.
It is not surprising to find a tandoori cuisine-serving "Moti Mahal", a la Delhi, opposite the venerable "Hotel Rajasthan", well known throughout the city for its Hing Kachoris and Rasgullas. It is also not surprising to find a "Yochina" doing brisk business in "Bunderbagicha" and a new refurbished "Soda fountain" attracting large crowds near "Mona Cinema".
The city, however, is still trying to shake off its rustic and badlands-of-the-country image but those who travels Patna by night (not later than 11 p.m.) know there's plenty of action to be had. Other than the bars and the restaurants and the upmarket Maurya and Chanakya hotels, the city has a clutch of clubs: Bankipore Club, New Patna Club, Patna Golf Club and the spanking new Country Club International on the Boring Pataliputra Road. As darkness falls, the city's famous Dak Bungalow Chowk comes alive with rickshaws and crowds outside the eating points and Pann Shops and streams of shoppers in the nearby Maurya Lok Complex.
For a first hand knowledge of Patna life exposure to Dak Bungalow Chowk and Gandhi Maidan is essential. Dak Bungalow Chowk is the centre of business activity in the city. In the Vicinity of Dak Bungalow Chowk one can find a large number of hotels, eating places and commercial establishments. Gandhi Maidan is a huge expanse of green in the heart of the city. The Maidan also plays host to various political rallies, exhibitions, fairs and melas from time to time. On the fringes of Gandhi Maidan are situated the Maurya Hotel - Patna's only five star hotel, the residence of District Magistrate, Patna, A.N.Sinha Institute of Social Studies which is country's premier institute in this field, Chanakya National Law University, St.Xevere School (The school which was once, exclusively for Patnas rich and famous), Biscoman Tower with its revolving roof top restaurant and Shri Krishna Science Centre - Patna's premier science museum . A little further away is the famous 29 meter high grannary constructed by the British in July 1786 which is also popularly called "Golghar". There are ambitious plans to host a sound & light show highlighting the glorious past and exiciting present of the city of pataliputra in the Golghar Complex. Right next to the Gholghar is the River Ganges. The River front which has seen better days has now fallen to disuse. There are plans to revive its lost glory by construction and renovation of river Ghats, plying of motorized boats for river cruise and, an ambitious 48 cover floating restaurant. Plans are also in pipelive to make the evening aarti at Bhadra Ghat and other Ghats as events where tourist caved also participate.
There are other places to see in and around the city. There is the Patna Museum with its metal and stone sculptures from the Maurya and Gupta periods (among its prized exhibits is didarganj yakshi and a 16 meter long fossilized tree), the Harmandirji at Patna Sahib, a shrine consecrating the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh, the privately-held Jalan Museum in the city area with its rich collection of Jade, Chinese Paintings and Louis XIV chairs and crockery, the Martyrs' Memorial at the Old Secretariat and Kumhrar, the site of the ancient city of Pataliputra, (as Patna was known in the days of the old) and Agam Kuan ( unfathomable well) one of the most important early historic archeological remains in Patna. Patna also houses the world famous Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library. Set up at the turn of the century, the library has a distinguished collection of rare Arabic & Persian manuscripts, Rajput & Mughal paintings & oddities like an inch wide Quran. It also contains the only books rescued from the plunder of the University of Cordebar in Spain. It is one of the national libraries of India.
Other places of interest in Patna are the Biological Park, Patthar ki Masjid, Nawab Shahid Ka Maqbara, Pachchim Darwaza & Padri-ki-Haveli.
Patna is well connected with other parts of the country by air and train links. Indian Airlines, Jet-airways and Air-deccan connect Patna to the rest of the country. There are daily flights to and from Delhi, Ranchi, Lucknow, Mumbai and Kolkata.
Patna junction and Rajendra Nagar junction are the two main railway stations providing train links to Patna from other parts of the country. There are number of trains including Rajdhani linking with Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Guwahati, Bangalore and Chennai.
The city is also well connected by road network with the famous and important tourist centers like Gaya (105 km), Bodhgaya(125 km), Rajgir 102 km), Nalanda (90 km), Vaishali and Pawapuri (90 km), besides other places in the region.
Patna offers a range of hotel accommodation - from western style air-conditioned and non air-conditioned hotels to a number of moderately priced hotels around the railway station. Tourists can also stay at the Hotel Kautilya Vihar Tourist Bungalow of Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation, Beerchand Patel Path, Patna - 800001. Telephone - 0612-2225411/ 2210219/ 2222622, fax - 0612-2236218.
A few other private hotels of Patna are - Hotel Maurya, Gandhi Maidan, Hotel Chanakya, Beerchand Patel Path, Hotel Republic, Exhibition Road, Hotel Samrat International, Frazer Road, Hotel Pataliputra Ashok, Beerchand Patel Path, Marwari Awas Griha, Frazer Road, Hotel Anand Lok Residency, Patna Railway Station etc.
Daily sight seeing tours of the city & trips to the historic sites of Nalanda, Rajgir, Pawapuri, Gaya - Bodhgaya, Maner & Vaishali are arranged during the tourist season by BSTDC.