Patna Nightlife, India
Located on the southern banks of Ganges River, Patna, the capital of Bihar, is known more for its rich and varied history of trade, commerce and inter-religious significance rather than its nightlife.
Once looked upon as a major commercial hub connecting several important Asian cities, when powers changed hands from emperors ranging from Mauryans, Guptas and Mughals to the British in 1912, when Patna was made the capital of Orissa, it brought with it the winds of change for a conventional, mostly working-class capital city in east India. Thereafter, a few, modest inns and restaurants opened up to serve the entertainment needs of the British officers (besides a few well-heeled Indian officials and businessmen) stationed there. Leisure pleasures in this period in time though were restricted to recorded music being played and alcoholic drinks being served only to Englishmen at elite clubs set up for them.
However, in 1935, Bihar was formed and Patna became its capital, gaining more in terms of both population, political importance and a fair bit of trade interest in its prized silk exports, known to the world as Tussar. While Patna had earlier been famous as an important pilgrimage spot for the Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities besides historical scholars from the world over who were interested in the centres of learning (Nalanda University nearby) and its many monuments and museums as well, it was the lack of an active nightlife that left many foreign tourists wanting when visiting this culturally rich city.
Apart from shopping for hand-woven raw silk and fancy paper or antique gift items that Patna was famous for and the excursion choices for visiting neighbouring towns of Vaishali, Rajgir, Bodhgaya, and Pawapuri, there was little in terms of nightlife attractions for young travellers to Patna, till the early 1990’s. Though there were many restaurants in Patna serving continental cuisine and even midnight coffee shops at the bigger hotels in town, these catered mainly to a handful of patrons with deep pockets.
Thus, tourists to Patna in the 90’s had to content themselves with the local drink ‘Bhang,’ which was somewhat sweet and offered the high of marijuana, pulling in the movies at the various English, Hindi or Bhojpuri (local dialect) cinema halls or making do with a classical musical concert, ballet or cultural show, if a troupe happened to be in town!
As far as nightlife in terms of pubs, bars and discos are concerned, Patna is sadly lacking them, as the locals are a conventional lot and even amusement parks - a rather tame option - are a rare attraction here. However, in the past decade, this rigid stance has slowly been lowered by the orthodox Biharis and many Patna restaurants have accommodated bars and evening entertainment programs for patrons, besides the many star-rated hotels that serve alcoholic beverages in a safe environment.
Some of these include Hotel President (a rather elegant property that is in close proximity to places of cultural interest and the shopping malls, boasting a bar, disco, club and pool facilities), Hotel Pataliputra Ashoka, Hotel Republic, Hotel Samrat International, Hotel Windsor, Hotel Chanakya and the Maurya Patna, the last of which has a well-stocked bar and is mostly favoured by foreign tourists.
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