Nalanda, situated at a distance of 90 km from Patna, is rich with the ruins of great ancient Nalanda University, which is one of the largest and oldest seat of learning in the world. This renowned Buddhist University was founded in the 5th century by the Gupta emperors. There were thousand of teachers and students from all over the world and its fame continued to spread far and wide until the end of the 12th century.
The worldwide spread fame of the university brought students from various countries and eventually it became hard to get a chance to study in the university. The prominent Chinese traveler and philosopher, Hieun-Tsang had given a detailed description of the student's life staying in the hostels, discipline and methodology of the study in his book. According to the ancient history, Lord Buddha and Lord Vardhamana Mahavira used to visit the university frequently in the 6th century BC. Sprawling terrace, steps, votive stupa and beautiful sculpture narrate the present day tourists of the immense glory of the Nalanda University.
PRIME SITES at Nalanda
The Ruins of Nalanda University :
The ruins of Nalanda university is spread over an area of about14 hectares. This renowned university was entirely built with Red Brick. The Nalanda University drew scholars from all over the world.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall :
Hieun Tsang, a Chinese traveler, who came to India in around 5th century, has given a comprehensive description of the Indian political and social conditions at that time. His writing is considered to be one of the most authentic sources of information of that period. Attracted by the glory of Nalanda University, he came and stayed here, both as a student and as a teacher. As a student, he studied Yoga for six years under Acharya Shil Bhadra. He was in Nalanda for twelve years. The memorial has been built in his memory.
Surya Mandir :
Near the University of Nalanda, is a temple dedicated to the Sun God. This temple has numerous statues of Hindu and Buddhist deities. The five-feet-high statue of Parvati is of particular interest and attraction.
The Museum :
This museum was established in 1971 and commands a good collection of ancient, historic manuscripts and Buddhist statues. The rare manuscripts kept here were found during the excavation of the surrounding areas. The museum also displays the cultures of the Hindu society during the Maurya, Gupta and other periods.
Nav Nalanda Vihar :
To keep alive and up the ancient tradition of spreading knowledge, Bihar Government has set up a Pali Institute near the ancient Nalanda university. In this Nav Nalanda Vihar institute, Indian as well as foreign students study and do research works, mainly on Buddhism and Pali. The institute was established in 1951, near the famous Lotus Pond. This Institute has been attracting students from Japan, Sri Lanka, Korea, Tibet, Bhutan, Indonesia etc.
Just 1.6 km from the historic ruins of Nalanda, is this place called Kundalpur. The Digambar sect of the Jains believes that the 24 th and the last Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira was born here. There are many Jain temples in this village.
EXCURSIONS Nearby :
Just merely15 km from Nalanda, is an exclusive complex of temples and monasteries, at Rajgir. Rajgir is one of the most alluring tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is an immense scenic place also.
How to Reach :
Air - The closest Airport is that of Patna, which is 90 km away.
Rail - The Nalanda Railway Station is on the branch route of Bhaktiyarpur-Rajgir section of the Eastern Railway.
Road - Nalanda is well connected by road network to other parts of the state. Particularly from Patna the bus services are regular and frequent. The Bihar State Tourism Department has its buses running from Nalanda to other parts of the state.