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City Administration


A number of cities such as Pataliputra, Taxila, Ujjain, Tosali, Suvarnagiri, Samapa, Isila and Kausambi are mentioned in the edicts of Ashoka. The Arthashastra has a full chapter on the administration of cities. Megasthenese has described in detail the administration of Pataliputra and it can be safely presumed that similar administration system was followed in most of the Mauryan cities. Megasthenese described that the city of Pataliputra was administered by a city council comprising 30 members. These 30 members were divided into a board of five members each. Each of these boards had specific responsibilities towards the administration of city. The first board was concerned with the industrial and artistic produce. Its duties included fixing of wages, check the adulteration etc. The second board dealt with the affairs of the visitors especially outsiders who came to Pataliputra. The third board was concerned with the registration of birth and death.


The fourth board regulated trade and commerce kept a vigil on the manufactured goods and sales of commodities. The fifth board was responsible for the supervision of manufacture of goods. The sixth board collected taxes as per the value of sold goods. The tax was normally 1/10th of the sold goods. The city council appointed officers who looked after the public welfare such as maintenance and repairs of roads, markets, hospitals, temples, educational institutions, sanitation, water supplies etc. The officer in charge of the city was known as Nagarka. The administrative machinery of the Mauryan state was fairly developed and well organized. Numerous depts regulated and controlled the activities of the state. Several important depts that Kautilya mentions are accounts, revenue, mines and minerals, chariots, customs and taxation.