Nalanda University

4.2 / 5 65 votes


Weather:

Ideal Time: 1-2 hrs

Timings:

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Entry Fee:

Indian Nationals and SAARC and BIMSTEC Country Nationals: INR 15
Foreign Nationals: INR 200
Below 15 Years of Age: Free
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Nalanda University, Nalanda Overview

Nalanda University is a UNESCO world heritage site is located South Bihar. Considered as one of the oldest universities in the world and known as Nalanda Mahavira back in time, its origins date back to the 3rd century. Mahavira is a Sanskrit term for a great 'Vihara'(Buddhist Monastery). Located about 85 km away from Patna, it is regarded as one of the greatest and oldest universities recorded in history. It finds references in the oldest epics of India as well as in the travels of Hiuen Tsang. The Gupta kings built various monasteries in old Kusan style of architecture. Emperor Ashoka and Emperor Harshavandhana were also patrons of this university who built few temples, viharas, and monasteries for the university. Former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam pitched the idea of reviving the university in March 2016.

With reference found in the Tibetan and Chinese culture, the university was a centre of advanced Vedic learnings until it was ransacked by Bakhtiyar Khilji in the 12th century. Lord Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, but the university became popular in the later years when Hieun Tsang stayed here in the 7th century AD and he left a detailed description of the education system and monastic life of this place. The site was recovered by Archeological Survey of India in 1915. It's said that the library of the university had so many books and manuscripts that it kept on burning for six months after the entire structure went up in flames. 

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Nalanda University is one of the first universities to be established in the world. Nalanda was a flourishing village on an important trade route which ran through Rajagriha (Now 'Rajgir'), then the capital city of Magadha. Magadha was a huge kingdom with parts of present day Bihar, Jharkhand, Bengal, and Odisha. During 7th century AD, the Nalanda university had almost 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers and was visited by Chinese scholar Xuanzang. Patronized by various rulers including King Harshavardhana of Kannauj (7th century CE) and the Pala rulers (8th - 12th century CE) as well as various scholars, it was an international institution with students coming in from different parts of the world. The students at the university studied the 'Great Wheel' (Mahayana) and all the eighteen sects of Buddhism. They also studied Vedas, Literature, Medicine, and Mathematics.

History indicates that the University was built during the reign of the Gupta emperor Kumaragupta. Foundation of the university is attributed to Shakraditya. The history of the university can be divided into two parts, one was the growth of the university from the sixth century to ninth, and second was the gradual decline and dissolution during the ninth century to the thirteenth.

Xuanxeng, a Buddhist scholar, and monk who travelled through India from 630 to 643 E, spent two years at the university. He was given a warm reception and given the name 'Mokshadeva.'
"Moreover, the whole establishment is surrounded by a brick wall, which encloses the entire convent from without. One gate opens into the great college, from which are separated eight other halls standing in the middle (of the Sangharama). The richly adorned towers and the fairy-like turrets, like pointed hill-tops, are congregated together. The observatories seem to be lost in the vapours (of the morning), and the upper rooms tower above the clouds." These are Xuan Zeng's detailed account on the view of Nalanda Mahavira out of his window.

The total area of excavation of the Nalanda University Ruins archaeological complex is about 14 hectares. The edifices are of red bricks and the gardens are extremely beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walkway. The monasteries are situated on the east of the walkway and the temples are situated in the west. Six temples built of brick and eleven monasteries orderly laid out were revealed during the excavations. Evidence of structures built over older ones is in plenty and many of these bore signs of fire damage.

Other places of interests are the Nalanda Archaeological museum which lies opposite to the entrance gate of the university. It has a beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. Only 349 collections out of 13,463 are on display in four galleries. You can also see the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara and the Huien Tsang Memorial Hall. The hall is an Indo-Chinese undertaking to honor the works of Xuan Zeng.

Nalanda University was the ancient seat of learning and various subjects were taught in the university. Students were admitted only after a rigorous entrance evaluation. It was attacked thrice by the invaders; Huns, Goudas and Bhaktiyar Khilji. Nalanda University reopened after 800 years. A rare combination of outstanding achievements in institution-building, site-planning, art, and architecture, Nalanda symbolized the multiplicity of knowledge production, the innovative processes of the organized transmission of ideas through education, and shared heritage of people living in multiple regions of Asia.

The site of Nalanda lies in a village but reaching there is not much of a trouble. The nearest airport from Nalanda is Patna which lies at a distance of 90 km from the site. The nearest railway station is Bakhtiyarpur, which is only 38 km away from Nalanda.
After reaching Nalanda you can take the bus or hire a taxi to reach the university. Nalanda is also well-connected by roadways throughout eastern India and is easily accessible from Patna, Bodhgaya, Kolkata as well as Delhi.

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