Patna is the capital of the Indian state of Bihar. The modern city of Patna is situated on the southern bank of the Ganges. The city also straddles the rivers Kosi, Sone and Gandak and Punpun. Patna is approximately 25 km long and 9 km to 10 km wide. Patna is the 14th most populous city in India with approximately 1.8 million, and the 14th most populous agglomeration in India and 168th in the world. It is the second largest city in eastern India, after Kolkata.
Today, all major companies have a base in Patna reflecting the growing importance of the city. The city is growing rapidly with buoyant development in sectors including retail and property is also fast emerging as a hub of higher education with institutes of national repute being started in Patna.
Apart from being the administrative centre of the state and its historic importance, the city is also a major educational and medical centre. The economy of Patna is based on the local service industry. Patna has the highest per capita gross district domestic product in Bihar: Rs 31,441, which is better than the most of the metropolitan areas in India. Patna is the 21st-fastest growing city and urban area in the world and the 5th-fastest growing city in India. In June 2009, The World Bank ranked Patna as the second-best city in India to start a business, after Delhi.
Patna is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Ancient Patna, known as Pataliputra, was the capital of the Magadha Empire under the Haryanka, Nanda, Mauryan, Sunga, Gupta, Pala and Suri dynasties. Pataliputra was also a famous seat of learning and fine arts. Its population during the Maurya period (around 300 BCE) was about 400,000. The walled old area, called Patna City by the locals, is a major trading centre.
The Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain pilgrim centres of Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya, and Pawapuri are nearby and Patna is also a sacred city for Sikhs. The Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, was born here.
Patna is located on the south bank of the Ganges River, called Ganga locally. An impressive characteristic of the geography of Patna is its confluence of rivers. The Ganges River is the largest. It is joined by the four mighty rivers: Ghagra, Gandak, Punpun and Sone. The Ganga is a respectable river as it passes through the district of Patna where it seems to be fully as large as in any part of its course for the huge flow of the Kosi. Just to the north of Patna across the Ganges River flows the Gandak. Patna is unique in having four large rivers in its vicinity. It is the largest riverine city in the world. The bridge over the river Ganga named Mahatma Gandhi Setu is 5575m long and is one of the longest (single river) bridges in the world.