Famous for its exquisite rice, Bihar's capital city buzzes with energy. Long a center of the Magadha Kingdom, Patna boasts historic places, great food, and day trips to entertain anyone who visits.
In ancient times, Patna was known as Pataliputra, and it was one of the world's largest cities. Nowadays, you can tour the city's ruins and see artifacts from its palaces in the excellent Patna Museum.
There are plenty of other museums to visit too, not least the Bihar Museum, which has a superb sculpture collection, and the Khuda Bakhsh Oriental Library with its ancient Persian manuscripts.
Try Bihari delicacies like kadhi bari dumplings in hot sauce, khichdi vegetable curries, or distinctive mutton kebabs.
Places like Ajanta are treasure troves of traditional Madhubani art, while you'll also find colorful Sujini quilts and delicately lacquered boxes.
When you stay in Patna you can easily reach Bodh Gaya - the famous spot where Buddha achieved enlightenment, as well as the gardens of Rajgir, and the Nepali border isn't far away either.
Generally, the best time to visit is between October and February, when the weather isn't too hot, and you won't be drenched by the monsoon.
Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Airport (PAT) has links to major international hubs like Delhi and Mumbai. A pre-booked taxi into town will cost around ₹400.
Patna Junction is connected to all major northern Indian cities (though it's a 17-hour journey from New Delhi).
From Delhi, take the Expressway as far as Lucknow, take highway 30 to Raebareli, then highway 31 all the way to Patna.
Seven different companies run bus services from Delhi to Patna, so take your pick (but it's advisable to choose an air-conditioned option).
Patna has some truly luxurious hotels to choose from, including the Hotel Maurya, with its pair of pools, and the reliable Hotel Patliputra Continental.
Maurya Lok - just north of the city center, Maurya Lok is the place to head to find craft souvenirs (and much more besides).
Fraser Road Area - another central neighborhood, Fraser Road is home to the Buddha Smriti Museum, as well as some great eateries like Moti Mahal Delux.
Mali Tola - for some open space and fresh air, head to Mali Tola, which is home to the excellent Patna Golf Club and the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park.
BSTDC runs buses across Patna, including to Bodh Gaya. Fares start at ₹60.
Taxi rates vary depending on vehicle type, but the cheapest official rate is around ₹15 per mile.
Car rental options in Patna include Car4Hires and Akbar Travels, and you can find deals for ₹400 per day (or book a driver for ₹950).
Central Patna is the place to shop for gifts, and most of the stores are clustered around Maurya Lok, but there are malls as well, like P&M Mall.
Supermarkets include 9 to 9 and Daily Needs, where 12 eggs will cost you approximately ₹60.
If you want to try authentic bihari kebabs or curries, try Pind Balluchi, Takshila, or Baba Hotel. And don't miss the sambar (vegetable curry) at Bansi Vihar either. Expect cheap, high-quality food, with meals costing around ₹150-200.