but the fragments that still survive in the
animals, plants and the manners of the people.
Capital City and Imperial Palace
The Greek writers referred to the royal road leading from the north-west
frontier to Pataliputra, measuring about 1,840 kilometres (1,150 miles).
‘Every mile of this road was marked by a stone indicating the by-roads and
distances. The capital of the empire was at Palimbothra or Pataliputra,
situated at the confluence of the two rivers, the Ganga and the Son. This was
a large city, nine-and-half miles in length and eleven miles in breadth.
The imperial palace constructed chiefly of timber, probably stood close to
the modern village of Kumrahar and was in keeping with all grandeur and
regalia. The palace stood in an extensive park full of shady groves, a
multitude of fish-ponds and trees. The gilded pillars of the palace were
adorned with golden vines and silver birds. In the parks tame peacocks and
pheasants were kept.
The king usually remained in the palace under the protection of female
bodyguards and appeared in public at the time of war, to sit as a judge in his
court, to offer sacrifice and to set out for hunting excursions. Hunting was the
principal royal amusement and the king was usually attended by armed
The king was at the pivot of the administrative superstructure. Megasthenes
represents the king as a conscientious and industrious person. He remained in
the court throughout the whole day without caring for his personal comforts.
The onerous burden of administration was shared between the king and
his council. Greek writers refer to its members as Councillors and Assessors,
who advised the king in the management of public affairs. The king
employed a large body of spies, called overseers by Megasthenes, who
transmitted secret and confidential reports to the king. The overseers in turn
employed courtesans as their collaborators.