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Nalanda

3.8 /5 48 votes

Weather:

Best Time: Oct-Mar Read More

Ideal duration: 1 day

Nearest Airport: Patna Check Flights

"The Ancient Seat of Knowledge"

Nalanda Tourism

The most popular Mahavihara of the ancient times, a significant Buddhist seat of academic excellence and a modest pilgrim center, all wrapped in a wisp of spirituality, Nalanda continues to be an equally enriching location in the present. It offers vibrant substance of spirituality, history, culture, architecture, and tourism.

This city houses one of the world's oldest and finest residential universities which itself was an architectural masterpiece. Although in ruins, the entire complex presents a pretty picture and is flocked by tourists day in and day out. It has “viharas” or monasteries to the east and “chaiyas” or temples to the west. In addition to this, the complex houses a charming little museum, which has a collection of several of original Buddhist stupas, Hindu and Buddhist bronzes, coins, terracotta jars, a sample of burnt rice etc. The district is believed to be a cradle of religions. Apart from Buddhism, it is an important center for Jainism, Hinduism, and Sufism as well. Considering the rich heritage and the historical importance, it is a hot tourist destination.

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The Ancient City of Learning

Situated in the state of Bihar, Nalanda is an ancient city renowned for education and boasts of the world's first university. Influenced by various empires, especially the Maurya Dynasty, Nalanda emerged as an educational hub in medieval times. Still a major site for spiritual learning, the small city is a hotspot of Buddhism and Jainism.


Named after 'Nalam' or lotus and 'Da' meaning giving away, Nalanda is also the birth place of Sariputra and has a stupa to his name. A fantastic fusion of various forms of architecture, influenced by different religions and beliefs, it is one of the most enchanting features observed in the ancient town today.

History of Nalanda

Nalanda was originally just a village that ran past the route of Rajgriha (modern-day Rajbir) which was then the capital of Magadha (modern-day Bihar). It is believed that the 24th Jain tirthankar- Mahavir Jain spent 14 rainy seasons in Nalanda. Also, Gautam Buddha delivered his lectures in the area. Not much is known about the territory in the centuries to follow. However, it is believed that in the 17th century King Ashoka- the great Mauryan and Buddhist emperor, built a temple at Nalanda in reverence for Buddha and his belief in the religion. He placed famous philosophers and intellectuals like Nagarjuna and Aryadeva as the head of the institution to impart education. But the notable history of Nalanda begun supposedly during the Gupta era, according to the seal found in the name of King Kumargupta. His successors expanded the empire by building many more monasteries and temples. Post Gupta period, Nalanda flourished under the reign of emperor Harsha. But the place suffered a big blow under the rule of Pala dynasty when it was plundered and destroyed by the Muslim Mamluk Turkish kings. Later in 1915, the Archaeological Survey of India studied the site and excavated 6 temples and 11 monasteries. The site is still a popular tourist destination in India.

Restaurants and Local Food in Nalanda

Nalanda has got pretty plain food habits, mostly due to the Buddhist influence. The cuisine is pretty much vegetarian and healthy comprising of dal roti and seasonal vegetables. Litti Chokha is the most favourite snack of the people. Some other popular snacks are Samosa, Kachori, Aalu Kachaalu, Bhooja, Ghughni Choora, Dahi Choora, Jhaal Moodhi etc. Khaja is a distinct savoury sweet originating from a small village called Silao, next to Nalanda. You should definitely try the mouth-watering crispy fried dish made with kneaded flour and dipped in sugary syrup. It is available in plenty shapes and sizes- triangular, rectangular, circular, as per your wish. The place also excels in sweets made from condensed milk. Tilkul and anarsa are some other popular sweets of the region.

If in Nalanda, you should never miss out on their very famous drink- Sattu Pani, made from roasted grains, spices and water. We also recommend you to try the delish Lassi or Aam Jhor.
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Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Explore the Nalanda University Ruins and Archaeological Complex. Visit the Nalanda Archaeological Museum, Nava Nalanda Mahavira, Hiuen Tsang Memorial. Treat your taste buds with some Silao ka Khaja.

NOTE: It is possible to complete this tour in a day. However, tourists may opt for spiritual camps in the city too.

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Holidify's Opinion

What's Great?

Historically rich.

What's Not So Great?

Extremely hot in summers. Limited tourist services. Limited public transport.

For Whom?

A vital spot for Buddhists and Jains and influenced by several dynasties, Nalanda is a perfect site for people interested in religious studies, ancient languages and medieval history.

How To Reach Nalanda

The Patna airport is the nearest (100km) for access to Nalanda. The city does not have its own railway station, the nearest being at Rajgir (13km). Bus facilities are also available to and from Patna, Gaya, Bihar Sharif and Rajgir.

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Nalanda Reviews

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ROBIN KUMAR 10 months ago
Nalanda is awesome place to visit, it is located in lap of nature. Blessed with many natural beauty. Easily accessible from Patna. Jainism and Buddhism both flourished here in ancient time.
Kumar Kislay 1 year ago
- Nalanda is a small place, so just a day is fine to cover the entire town.
- Travelling in daytime is recommended.
- Winters might be a bit chilly here, so carry appropriate clothing.
- Carry mosquito repellants as well and use bottled water.
Prabhat Tandon 1 year ago
Excellent destination , perfect peace , must visit .
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