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Archaeological Survey of India was established in 1861 with General Alexander Cunningham as the first head of the Institution. It is the apex organization of the country engaged in exploration, excavation, archaeological research & publication and preservation of cultural heritage of India.


Patna Circle is one of the oldest circles of ASI which was earlier known as Mid Eastern Circle and still earlier as the Buddhist Circle ostensibly because of the important Buddhist monuments lying in its area.


The jurisdiction of Patna Circle extends to the whole of Bihar State and 14 districts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Earlier Jharkhand state was also controlled by it but a separate Ranchi Circle for that state has been created with effect from April, 2003.


There are 183 national monuments under the jurisdiction of Patna Circle out of which 71 fall in Bihar and 112 in U.P. Before creation of Ranchi Circle it had to take care of 11 more monuments of Jharkhand. For administrative convenience Patna Circle is divided into nine Sub Circles – three in U.P. namely Sarnath, Kushinagar and Jaunpur and six in Bihar namely Sasaram, Vaishali, Kumrahar, Nalanda, Rajgir & Antichak.


Patna Circle has the privilege of protecting a wide variety of monuments and sites. Most of the sacred Buddhist places like Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Rajgir, Vaishali, Nalanda, Vikramshila, Kesariya, Lauriya Nandangarh etc. are under this circle. It includes two ancient universities of Nalanda and Vikramshila. It has the pride of having many Asokan pillars like those at Kolhua (Vaishali, Areraj, Nandangarh, Sarnath, Rampurva etc.The earliest rock cut caves of the Jains are also important. The earliest fort at Rajgir, the grand Rohtas Fort with palaces, Vijaygarh Fort and the Jaunpur Fort are also significant. The circle is beset with examples of early temple like Mundeshwari Devi Temple. Paura and medieval temple like Koncheshwar Temple, Konch.


There are number of Islamic and Jain monuments in the Circle. The most important Islamic monument of the circle is the mausoleum of Sher Shah Suri at Sasaram. In addition there are a number of mosques and tombs at Jaunpur. Hasan Shah Suri’s  Tomb at Sasaram. Dharahara Mosque, Varanasi, Makhdum Shah Daulat Tomb at Maner (Patna) and Chowk Shikarpur mosque in Patna are also noteworthy. In Rajgir the Jain group of temples over the Vaibhar hill and the Sonbhandar caves attract a large number of pilgrims.


The Circle do not lag in having monuments of recent past. Lord Cornwallis’s Tomb at Ghazipur is one of them. The latest addition to the list of monuments in Patna Circle is the ancestral house of Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of Indian Republic.


During past few years, Patna Circle has proved its excellence in different fields of archaeology, Excavations at Kesariya (1998-2001), Rajgir (2000-2002) and Bakraur- Bodhgaya (2002-06) have exposed Buddhist stupa at each place. Prior to that the Circle had earned distinction in excavation at Nalanda, Kolhua (Vaishali) and Sarnath (Choukhandi). In the field of conservation, the Circle has done remarkable work at Nalanda, Sarnath, Jaunpur, Sasaram, Varanasi, Vikramshila etc. apart from conserving the excavated stupas at Kesariya, Rajgir and Bakraur (Bodhgaya). Patna Circle is also extending technical help in conservation of Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya though it is not a centrally protected Monument but it is the only World Heritage Monument in Bihar.


Within the territorial jurisdiction of the Patna Circle there are five archaeological site museums located  at Sarnath, Nalanda, Vaishali, Bodhgaya & Vikramshila. All five museums of the Circle have priceless collections of sculptures, Coins, inscriptions, potteries and other antiquities but the national emblem, the Lion Capital kept at Sarnath Museum has added another feather in the cap of  pride of the Circle.





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