The name Patna is thought to be adapted from Patan, the name of the Hindu goddess Patan devi. Another theory considers it to be derived from Patliputra the original name of Patna. Patliputra was started by Ajatsatru as a fort on the junction of 4 rivers, particularly the Ganga and Sone. This was to defend the kingdom of Magadh from the army of the Licchavis that used to cross the river Ganga and harass the citizens on the other side of the river.
Patna has been called by several names depending upon the ruler of the city, Pataligram, Pataliputra, Kusumpur, Pushpapura, Azimabad, and the present day Patna. Another point of noteworthiness is that it has “Putra” attached to Patli. A story goes that Patli was a princess who have birth to a child and the parents decided to live there at the very spot the child was born hence it came to be known as Patliputra. Nonetheless, no city in India has this unique name of having a suffix of Putra. Putra in Sanskrit is Son.
Initially the fort was maintained by some soldiers. One of them was particularly fond of roses and planted some. Hence the fort came to be known as Patligram and later Kusumpur Again Patli and Kusum is another name of the flower rose while gram is a village in the Hindi/Sanskrit language.
Another interesting story is that while hunting at the jungles of Bihar Sharif king Ajatsatru happened to go across the river to Vaishali where the people made fun of his physical features. “How could the son of beautiful Bimbisar and Chella be so ugly”? This really upset Ajatsatru and decided to destroy Vasishali. Ajatsatru being a good military strategist decided to convert this region into a fort to defend from and attack on the Licchavis of Vaishali. He must have decided to make a city on the banks taking into account the vicinity of the river and Ganga.
Later on the city was built under the guidance of Ajatsatru’s trusted ministers Sunidh and Vaskar. The credit goes to Udayin, the son of Ajatsatru to actually build Patliputra to a famous city and to use it as his capital of Magadh. The Gargi-Samhita, Yug Puran, Vayu Puran mentions that Udayin magnificently built Kusumpur. In the later years it became the grandiose capitale of Magadh and India that rose to its highest pinnacle during the rule of Ashoka the great.
The current name Patna was given by Sher Shah Suri, whose tomb is at Sasaram, a place near Patna and is a well known tourist spot for locals and foreigners alike. Patna is now the capital of Bihar.