History of Patna spans more than three millennia. The city has a distinction of being associated with two ancient and one relatively new religions which are Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikkhism. In recorded history, it has been the capital of Magadh (Nanda) dynasty, Mauryan empire, Shunga dynasty and then the capital for Shershah Suri. It has been part of the Mugal empire and seen the rule of the Nawabs of Bengal and East India Company too. The city has been a center of the First war of Indian Independence. Later the Indian independence movement leaders also frequented the city or made a base here.
Today Patna, one of the earliest continuously inhabited cities, is the capital of Bihar and one of the most densely populated cities in the north after Kolkata. What Patna looks like today? Well, not too good. The historical monuments which this city might have boasted of lay in utter disregard. Although, this was not the case when the state of Bihar was formed a century ago. Right at the time of formation of Bihar as a separate state, need for a museum arose. In 1915 Patna Museum started functioning from the commissioner’s bungalow in the campus of A.N. Sinha Institute.
As the need for more space for artifacts arose, the artifacts were shifted to the new rooms at the Patna High Court building. A piece of land was selected for the museum on Buddha Marg (which was Patna-Gaya road then) in 1925. Rai Bahadur Bihsnu Swarup was given the responsibility to design the building and thus the building that we know today as Patna Museum (or Jadughar) was completed in 1928. In 1929 the artifacts were shifted to the new two-storied museum building and it was opened as the first museum of Bihar and Orissa Province by Sir Hugh Lansdown Stephenson who was then the Governor of Bihar & Orissa.
The fossil of a tree said to be more than 200 million years old is on display here. It was found at Asansol, Bengal. A casket, containing the sacred ashes of Gautama Buddha was discovered by A.S. Altekar in 1958. It is also on display here. In the year 2009, a project to build a new museum was started and now a lot of artifacts from this museum are housed there. Most artifacts at Patna museum these days are from 1764 onwards. This museum has a gallery dedicated to Dr. Rajendra Prasad (1st president of India). It also houses collection brought back by well-known traveler and author Rahul Sankrityayan.
The museum has a collection of over 45,000 exhibits, out of which only a small percentage of it are on display due to space constraint.A brick sculpture of Lord Buddha and stupas, named as Satabdi Smarak is situated in one of the corners of the museum. The museum building also houses few government offices like the office of the National Mission for Manuscripts, Govt. of India and Bihar Research Society. The museum also houses an auditorium, named as Jan Nayak Karpuri Thakur Auditorium at the back side. It was inaugurated in 2000.
The museum building consists of two floors, with each floor having dedicated Galleries to display the artifacts. The building was designed in Mughal-Rajput structure and the museum also housed weapons and cannon from the World War era. Right in front of the cannons, behind a gate brought from Orissa, there’s a Patli tree which visitors seldom get to see. It is believed that Patna or Patliputra derives its name from the tree of Patli which were once abundant in this area.
Quite like the glorious past of Patna, the Patli tree too lies forgotten, waiting to be replaced by newly formed structures just like the Patna museum which is fast being replaced by a newer building.
Feel free to visit Patna Museum, You will get to know some interesting facts and also you will get to know old Patna’s history. LetUsGo also hosts Patna Heritage walk: Exploring Patna Museum, do visit our Facebook Page for additional queries.
Author: Anand Kumar
Market Research Professional, with graduation in computers and PG in marketing and media. Enjoys traveling and loves to read and review the books.