Quila House is built on a small portion of the foundations of Sher Shah Suri’s fort, which was constructed by the Afghan ruler from Bihar in 1541 AD. A part of the fort’s ramparts is still visible along the retaining wall on the Ganga side of the grounds. Before Radha Krishna Jalan bought this huge piece of land with an equally massive bungalow from the Nawab of Gaya, it was said to have been in the possession of the British East India Company.
Radha Krishna Jalan was born in the year 1882 and was the youngest of four brothers. The Jalan brothers were a well known business family of Patna by the time he decided to purchase this property in the year 1919. It was a mere fluke that was to lead him into buying this piece of history, which in turn made him a very famous man of his time.
R. K. Jalan and the Nawab of Gaya happened to be travelling in the same coach in the train to Patna, and during their conversation Nawab Saheb revealed his purpose of coming to Patna to dispose of this property. He also mentioned that he was having difficulty in finding a buyer, for the place was thought by the locals to be haunted. On arrival in Patna, it was a chance that the carriage supposed to pick up Nawab Saheb failed to arrive. R. K. Jalan politely offered Nawab Saheb a ride in his own carriage, and agreed to a detour so that they might view the property they had been discussing.
It was love at first site for R. K. Jalan, and he and Nawab Saheb struck a deal at that very moment for a sum of around Rs 30,000 at the time. R. K. Jalan could not believe his eyes: the beauty of Ganga surrounding this lovely, quiet place on three sides, standing on a slight elevation from the rest of the city, and leaving the whole of the city of Patna behind her.
But it was not only a beautiful location: he had just bought a place where many Kings were said to have stayed. It is also believed that in the old bungalow he found a few ivory artefacts, which eventually led him into his great passion for collecting art and antiques. By 1930 he had enough items on display to start a visitors’ book.