This is the second part of the series on Pataliputra.
The Mauryan dynasty, founded by Chandragupta, continued under his son, Bindusara, and subsequently, his grandson, Ashoka. They and their descendants ruled the subcontinent from Afghanistan to undivided Bengal and to Mysore in southern India until 185 BC.
The city of Pataliputra was at its zenith under the Mauryans. Four main gates led through its fortified battlements on the north, east, west and south. Wide avenues led from the gates to the city centre, their central gutters carrying waste water beyond the walls.
The city was divided into 16 zones, each assigned to a different sect of craftsmen. The wealthy and the elite lived in brick mansions along the main avenues, near the palaces.
Second-rank nobles and merchants lived behind the elite. The poor lived just inside the city walls, in dwelling units made of sub-dried bricks.
People washed clothes and watered livestock in the canals which crisscrossed the city. There were inns, hospitals, and art galleries. Ashoka even provided veterinary centres. After his conversion to Buddhism, he respected the sanctity of all living things.
He also thought ordered the first Buddhist monuments to be built at Sanchi, including the Great Stupa, or shrine, carved with pictures depicting how life was at the capital of the Magadh kingdom.
The citizens belonged to different faiths, and Ashoka tried to develop a spirit of tolerance. To cater to the population’s spiritual needs, great temples stood beside the public squares.
Devotees of all the major religions of India had freedom of worship — Buddhists, Hindus and Jains. Even the descendants of the Greek soldiers were allowed to worship their gods in Pataliputra.
To be continued