Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pataliputra - one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world

Sanchi near Patliputra. www.facts-about-india.com

It was founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 324 B.C.E. and survived until 184 B.C.E. From its capital at Pataliputra in the Ganges .... www.studyblue.com

The Pataliputra Stupa.monkslife.wordpress.com

 India has a number of cities and towns that are more than 1500 years old. Numerous of the Hindu temples made of hard rock, particularly, in the southern India 
were built as back as 1000 plus years back.The city of Patna in North India is one of the oldest cities in the world. 

Patna, Capital of Bihar, India  was once known as  Pataliputra, the capital of the Magadha Empire and
the  important pilgrim centers near Patna are Vaishali, Nalanda and Bodhgaya for all religions of India. Its history spans at least three millennia and has close links with two most ancient religions - Buddhism and Jainism. The city witnessed rise and fall of  many rulers and dynasties such as the Mauryas and the Guptas, the Delhi Sultanate,  the Mughal Empires, the Nawabs of Bengal, East India Company and and last British Raj under the British Crown (till August 1947).

Patna is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. The origin of the name is still confusing and is a bone of contention by  historians. It is believed that the name is derived is from Pāṭalipura, "Pāṭali town. Patna may have roots in Pattan, a Sanskrit word meaning port.

The following  are the exciting facts:  

 01. It is believed that Pataliputra was the largest city in the  ancient world between 300 and 195 BCE, like Alexandria, Egypt and succeeded by the Chinese capital Chang'an (modern Xi'an).

02.  Early Buddhists  texts (the Pali Canon and Agamas) did not mention the name, however there were references to the village of Pataligrama. ASI   studies show the evidence of initial growth of urban area near Patna not earlier than the 3rd or 4th Century BCE and this is in agreement with early Buddhist sources, mentioning the growth of a village in to a city in the vicinity  towards the end of the Buddha's life.

 02. The first references to the place is observed about 2500 years ago in Jain and Buddhist scriptures. The city has had a continuous history, a record claimed by few cities in the world. Rajagriha was the capital of Haryanka dynasty founded in 684 BCE (lasted till 424 BCE). Later  came to be called Pataliputra, the present day Patna. The city and the region developed during the Magadha dynasty.

Stupa near Pataliputra.  www.elixirofknowledge.com
 03. It was  the capital of the Magadha Empire located at the confluence of the rivers  Ganges,  Gandhaka and Son, thus forming a natural water fort called ''Jaldurga.'' The rivers  provided a remarkable natural defense  and safety from enemy invasions.

 04. During Magadha's early imperial period, it became a major center of commerce and trade. The fertile Gangetic plains provided the all the agricultural needs that people wanted.

 05. Two important  Buddhist councils were held here, the very first  Buddhist council soon after the demise of  the Buddha, and the second Buddhist council  during the  period of Ashoka.

 06. King Udayabhadra, son of Ajatashatru,  first established Pataliputra as the capital of Magadha the capital of the great Mauryan Emperors - Chandragupta Maurya and Ashoka the Great were other prominant rulers.

07. The city prospered under the Mauryas. Recorded history of the city begins in the year 490 BCE.  The city has had a continuous history, a record claimed by few cities in the world.

08. Emperor Ashoka transformed the wooden capital into a stone construction around 273 BCE. That time, it is believed,  it was one of the world's largest cities, with a population of 150,000–300,000. Pillars or columns in the palace  here and else where built by  Ashoka, as revealed by evidences, show similarity  with those  in  Achaemenid palaces and Persepolis.

09. Megasthenes, Greek ambassador, mentioned in his travelogue on India that a wooden wall nine miles long and a mile and a half wide surrounded Pataliputra, with 470 towers and a moat that was 900 feet wide. (Modern archaeologists have excavated some huge timbers that date to the Mauryan era.) Six five-men boards in charge of industries, trade and commerce, tax collection, foreigners, vital statistics, and public works administered the city.

10. In the 3rd–6th centuries  the city also became a flourishing Buddhist center  with a number of important monasteries.

11. Aryabhata, the famous astronomer and mathematician,  Ashvaghosha, poet and influential Buddhist writer, Chanakya, or Kautilya, the master of statecraft, the guru of Chandragupta Maurya and author of the ancient text on statecraft, ''Arthashashtra,'' Pāṇini, the ancient Hindu grammarian who formulated the 3959 rules of Sanskrit grammer, etc, and Vatsyayana, the author of world famous ''Kama Sutra'' were some of the intellectuals associated with the city of Pataliputra.

12. The city was well planned and  divided into 16 commercial sectors.  The  rich and the elite lived in brick mansions along the main avenues, near the palaces. Next nobles and merchants lived behind the elite, and so on. The poor lived just inside the city  limits in baked earth hovels. People washed clothes and watered livestock in the canals which crisscrossed the city. There were inns, hospitals, and art galleries. Ashoka built veterinary centers and  first Buddhist monuments  at Sanchi, including the Great Stupa, or shrine-carved with pictures which show the life at Pataliputra.

 After the invasion of Muslim rulers in the 12th century,  the city faced disaster and had been in ruin  for a long time. Xuanzang, Chines traveler noted this in his travelogue. The name was changed to Patna during the reign of Sher Shah Suri, who made Pataliputra his capital .
Modern Patna city.www.yalehellenicsociety.org
Tit Bits:
... 17th century  saw Patna as a  center of international trade. In 1620, the English East India Company  built a  factory  in Patna for trading in calico and silk and later it became a major center for saltpetre. Francois Bernier, in Travels in the Mogul Empire (1656–1668), says "...a prodigious quantity of saltpetre was imported from Patna. It was carried down the Ganges with great facility, and the Dutch and English sent large cargoes to many parts of the Indies, and to Europe.

... After the decisive battle of Buxar of 1764, as per the treaty of Allahabad  The English company was given the right to collect tax (Divani rights) of this former Mughal province by the Mogul  emperor. Patna was annexed by the company in 1793

... In 1912, when the Bengal Presidency was partitioned, Patna became the capital of the British province of Bihar and Orissa