The history and tradition of Patna go back to the earliest dawn of civilization. The original name of Patna was Pataliputra or Patalipattan and its history makes a start from the century 600 B.C. The name Patna has undergone many changes at its earliest stages like Pataligram, Kusumpur, Patliputra, Azimabad etc., ultimately terminating to the present one. Chandragupta Maurya made it his capital in the 4th century B.C. Thereafter the city lost its importance until Sherkhan Suri rose into power in the early 16th century A.D. Another version that comes to focus is that there existed a village named Pattan or Patthan, which later turned into Patna.It has been said that Pataliputra was founded by Ajatashatru. Patna, therefore, has become inextricably bound up with the ancient Pataliputra. The ancient village was named ‘Patali’ and the word ‘Pattan’ was added to it. Greek history mentions ‘Palibothra’ which perhaps is Pataliputra itself.
Ajatashatru had to adopt certain security measures in order to protect Patna from the repeated Lichchavi invasions. He had got a natural riverine fort protected by three rivers. Ajatashatru’s son had moved his capital from Rajagriha to Pataliputra and this status was maintained during the reign of the Mauryas and the Guptas. Ashoka the Great, administered his empire from here. Chandragupta Maurya and Samudragupta, valliant warriors, they took Pataliputra as their capital. It was from here Chahandragupta sent forth his army to fight the Greeks of the western frontier and Chandragupta Vikramaditya repelled the Shakas and the Huns from here. It was there that the Greek ambassador Megasthenes stayed during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya. The famous traveler Fa-Hien in the 3rd century and Hiuen-Tsang in the 7th century inspected the city. Many noted scholars like Kautilya stayed here and works like ‘Arthashastra’ were written from this place. This city was the fountainhead of the spring of knowledge and wisdom in ancient times.
Prince Azim-us-Shan, the grandson of Aurangzeb came as the Governor of Patna in 1703. Earlier than that Sher Shah had removed his capital from Biharsharif to Patna. It was prince Azim-us-Shan who tried to turn Patna into a beautiful city and it was he who gave it the name ‘Azimabad’. The common people however went on calling it ‘Patna’. The old Patna or the modern Patna City had at one time a wall all round, the remains of which can still be seen at the entrance of old Patna.