The district of Patna is situated in the heart of the eastern state of Bihar and is the capital city of Bihar. Bihar once was a flourishing state economy as well as religiously. It is called a divine state which gave birth to legends like Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira. The name Bihar comes from the name Vihar, which were Buddhist monasteries in earlier days. The capital city of Patna is situated on the famous Ganga River and is famous as the biggest historical city of India. Surrounded by the districts of Nalanda, Vaishali, Jahanabad, Bhojpur and Saran it has always been a fertile soil with bountiful crops.
Patna in Biharor Pataliputra was a small village with the name of Patali or Pataligrama as mentioned in Buddhist and Jain scriptures. Although historically it is believed to have been transformed from a village to a town by King Ajatshatru who ruled over Rajgriha and wanted Patali to be his capital for its strategic location; legends say its original King was Putraka who named the place on his queen's name, Patali. It is said that just before his death, Lord Buddha after seeing a fort built on the banks of River Ganges had predicted a bright future for the would-be city but also had predicted its downfall due to flood or fire.
And indeed, Pataliputra, as it was known then, rose to be a great city. It served many dynasties and rulers. From Pataligrama to Pataliputra, to Kusumpura to Kusumdhwaja to Padmavati to Azimabad to Patna, the name of the city changed with times, time and again. But the glory of this ancient city rose during the Maurya dynasty and especially during the tenure of Emperor Ashoka. The architecture of the city as well rose to a grandeur which was never seen before. It was during this period that Pataliputra produced great scholars from Chanakya, Aryabhatta and Vatsyayana.
Emperor Ashoka then transformed the earlier city into an even more beautiful city. After embracing the Buddhism he built many Stupas and Monasteries which dotted the skyline of this prosperous city.
But alas all the glory and beauty vanished with the floods caused by rains in the 6th century A.D. The history of the middle age of this ancient city is not known. It was only in the 16th century when Sher Shah Suri decided to build a fort here that the city came back to the forefront. Later it went under the Mughal control. It was once again renamed as Azimabad after the favorite grandson of the Mughal king Aurangzeb. With an eventual decline of the Mughal power, Patna went into the hands of the Nawab of Bengal and soon was passed on to the British. After the Indian independence, the small and tiny village Pataligrama became the capital of the state of Bihar .
Today, Patna has become the starting point for Buddhist pilgrimage in the country as there are many sites of Buddhist interest in its vicinity. Bihar state as a whole is famous for its Madhubani paintings and its peculiar festivities such as the Chhath. The people of the region, basically rice eaters, love to have sat in its various forms. The fertile land and its verdant greenery are because of the Ganges that flows from west to east through the state. Especially at Patna, it is at its fullest and therefore has the largest bridge in India that stretches from one shore to the other. It is around 7.5 km long and is called Mahatma Gandhi Setu.