Ancient literatures refer Patliputra by various names like Pataligram, Patalipur, Kusumpur, Pushpapur or Kusumdhvaj . In 6th century B.C. it was a small village where Buddha ,sometime before death, had noticed a fort being constructed under the orders of King Ajatshatru of Rajgrih for defence of magadh Kingdom against the Lichchavi Republic of Vaishali. Impressed by its strategic location Kingh Udayin , son and successor of Ajatshatru, shifted the capital of Magadh Kingdom from Rajgrih to Patliputra in the middle of 5th century B.C. Since then for about thousand years Patliputra remained the capital of Great Indian Empires of Shaishunag, Nanda, Maurya , Sunga and Gupta dynasties .
The Place has also been an important centre of activity in the fields of learning,commerce,art and religion. Sthulbhadra the eminent Jain ascetic had convened a council here during the period of Chandragupta Maurya. During Ashoka’s reign the third Buddhist Council was held here. However there is an opinion that it continued to be the capital during early Pala period also.Thereafter the place might have lost its capital status.
A number of famous authors are associated with Pataliputra, notable being Kautilya or Chanakya , author of Arthashastra and Patanjali who wrote Mahabhashia . Fa-Hien, the famous Chinese traveller of early 5th century A.D. had described Pataliputra as a prosperous city and a famous center of learning.
The first vivid account of Pataliputra, including its municipal administration comes at 300 B.C. from Megasthenese, the celebrated Greek ambassador at the court of Chandragupta Maurya, who mentions it as Palibothra in his book named Indica. According to his account the spread of the city was like a parallelogram, about 14 kms east-west along the river Ganges and 3 kms north-south . The circumference of the city was about 36 kms .The city was protected by massive timber palisades and further defended by a broad and deep moat which also served as a city sewer ,kautilya in his book Arthashastra also indicated wide rampart around the city
Remnants of the wooden palisades have been discovered during a series of excavations at Lohanipur, Bahadurpur, Sandalpur, Bulandibagh, Kumrahar and some other locations in Patna . Megasthenese also mentions about a royal place of Chandragupta Maurya built of timber and describes it to be far superior to the palaces of Susa and Ecbatana in present Iran in terms of beauty and magnificence .