Introduction of Nalanda University
Ancient Nalanda University ( Mahavihara) which is now exist in its ruin state, have seen the Golden Era of India. It was established during the Gupta period in 5th century and remains a important centre of learning upto 12th century. That time it was a part of Magadha and now in Indian State of Bihar. It was one of the three prime university of ancient India, other two were Vikramshila ( also in Bihar) and Taxila, now in Afghanistan.
It is well known to the world as UNESCO World Heritage site. It is considered one of the oldest boarding education institute in the ancient history of world, not even oldest also one of the largest too. Many scholar from around the world used to come here mainly from Tibet , China, Korea and Central Asia for education in their respective discipline. Hundreds of courses were offered here for thousands of students.
History of Nalanda was unknown to world till 18th century. It came to knowledge when researcher studied the work of Xuanzang ( Hieun Tsang). Xuanzang was a Chinese pilgrim who have visited this place in 7th century and spend two year here , he described this place in much details in his writing. A memorial dedicated to Hieun Tsang is also established close to ruins.
Site is also related to jain Thirthankara , Mahavira and Gautam Buddha they have spent enough time in this region for mediation and spread of their teachings. Buddha’s one of the main disciple Shariputra also born in this area.
This ancient site is maintained by Archeological Survey of India(ASI). People across the world come here to visit this place, it is nice place for history lovers. ASI still working on the site and till date excavation work of site is going on.
Detail about the Ancient Nalanda University
This site is spread over an area of 30 Acres and Archeological Survey of India (ASI) started excavation of the site in the beginning of 19th century. Eleven monasteries and six big temples made of brick were unearthed here. Many sculptures of Buddha and other Hindu Gods like Shiva, Parvati, Durga and coins, seals, inscriptions belongs to different time period have also been discovered from this site. All of these things are placed in Nalanda Archeological museum situated on opposite of complex main gate.
Main entrance of the University Complex is enough to amaze you, here walls have thickness of more than two meter. Like they have planned it for many future centuries. Next you will see a gallery that open in the main compound , from where you can actually see the largeness of this Maha-Vihara. You see big temples are facing you and all monasteries at your side are in a line and in very systematic way. Whole university’s layout is a well designed like we design in modern day. Even these structure are superior in many way, these are still in good shape after fifteen century.
All Monasteries are rectangular in shape, which have a big courtyard in the middle, that may be used for the teaching or some other religious work. Outer layer of these monasteries have numerous cells which were the residence of students/ monks, in the courtyard also have well. Drainage system also worth to see, these people were master in everything.
Temples inside Nalanda Ruin Complex
A total of six large temple found in the university complex , most important is situated in left side as you enter. Your entry upto the temple is restricted for the safety of monuments, here is a big courtyard also that may be used at the time of some function or religious gathering. Temple no.3 have multiple flights of stairs that lead to the top. It is believed that it is a result of successive construction one over the other in course of time. This temple have many sculpture of God Goddess like Shiva, Parvati and scene depicting Buddha’ life. The temple is surrounded by numerous little stupas made up of brick or stones .
Entry charge and Timing of Nalanda
There is a little entry fee of 15/-for Indians and visitors from SARC counties, these monuments remains open from sunrise to sunset.
Nalanda archeological museum which is in front of these university complex charge only 5/- for its visitors.
Location of the Nalanda ruins
The site is located about 95 kilometres from Patna Capital city of Bihar and very close to Bihar Sharif town and around 80 km from Bodhgaya which is another World heritage site of Bihar.
How to reach Nalanda
Air: Loknayak Jayaprakash airport situated at Patna is about 90 km from Nalanda. This airport is well connected to major Indian cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Jaipur, Kolkata, Bengaluru, etc. From patna you can hire direct taxi to Nalanda.
Rail: Rajgir railway station is the nearest one, located about 12 km from Nalanda. Few trains from Delhi, Patna, Gaya have stoppage here. From the station, one can hire a taxi or Auto for Nalanda.
Road: Nalanda is well connected by road, lies on the Bihar sharif -Rajgir-Gaya route. And there are regular state-run deluxe Buses from Patna, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir to Nalanda.