Nalanda in Bihar is known for the ruins of the world famous Buddhist monastery which served as a great centre of learning in the ancient India.
Established in 5th century AD during the Gupta period the University of Nalanda was the Buddhism’s most famous teaching centre which attracted students and pilgrims from far-off countries including China and south-East Asia. The renowned Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsang who visited India in the 7th century AD and studied at the University describes Nalanda as full of intellectual activity. According to him, in order to get themselves admitted to the University the students had to pass a strict oral examination. Apart from the doctrine of Buddhism, the Vedas, Hindu philosophy, Hetu Vidya (logic), Shabda Vidya (grammar) and Chikitsa vidya (medicine) were also taught at the university.
Places of attractions in Nalanda
Nalanda University Complex
The university provided free education to some 10,000 students whose expenses were met by the revenues of one hundred villages as well as donations given by the patrons including the great Indian ruler Harshvardhan.
The Nalanda monastery also enjoyed the patronage of the Pala rulers. During the rule of Dharampal, the greatest of the Pala, the glory of the monastery attained its zenith. It was as a result of efforts of the missionary monk Padmasambhava that Tibet was converted into Buddhism in the 8thcentury AD.
Nalanda Stupa is one of the striking architectural remains of ancient India. The stupa was successively enlarged seven times. It was originally a tall stupa raised on a high base, with the steps leading up the terraces. Originally there was a small stupa at each corner. However, the structure underwent many alterations during the course of time.
Nalanda Archaeological Museum
Nalanda Archaeological Museum was established to preserve and showcase the antiquities retrieved from the excavations in the area. The museum houses Buddhist bronze statues, stone inscriptions, copper plates, coins and potteries found among the ruins here.
How to reach Nalanda
Air: The nearest airport to Nalanda is at Patna that is connected by flights to major cities in India. Patna is 95 km from Nalanda.
Rail: Rajgir, 15 Km from Nalanda, is the nearest railhead that is well connected by rail with major places and cities in the country. From Delhi you can board the Sramjeevi Express train which will take you to Rajgir from where you can find several means to travel to Nalanda.
Road: Good motorable roads connect Nalanda to different places in Bihar. Some of the major road distances are: Patna (95 km), Gaya (79 km) and Bodh Gaya (103km).
Best time to visit Nalanda
In Nalanda temperatures in winters and summers are extreme. October to March is the best time to visit Nalanda.