Nalanda, founded in the 5th century AD, is famous as the ancient seat of learning. The ruins of the world's most ancient university lies here which is 62 km from Bodhgaya and 90 km south of Patna.
Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous center of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hieun Tsang stayed here in the 7th century AD and left detailed description of the excellence of education system and purity of monastic life practiced here. He also gave a vivid account of both the ambiance and architecture of this unique university of ancient times. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. The Gupta kings patronized these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Emperor Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples, monasteries and viharas here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. An International Center for Buddhist Studies was established here in 1951. Nearby is Biharsharif, where an annual urs is celebrated at the Dargah or tomb of Malik Ibrahim Baya. Baragaon, 2 km away has a sun temple, famous for Chhath puja. To be visited are Nalanda museum & Nava Nalanda Mahavihar in addition to the great ruins.
Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex: The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of the red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walk way that goes south to north. The monasteries or "Viharas" are east of this central alley and the temple or "Chaiyas" to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around Nalanda University Ruinsa central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha.
Main Attraction of Nalanda :
Nalanda University Archaeological Complex:
This is the excavated site of the great university. Spread over an area of 14 hectares, the complex had red brick buildings hemmed by gardens. A central walk way runs through the complex from north to south. on the eastern side of the central alley were the Viharas (monasteries) and the Chaityas (temples) on the west. A half broken statue of lord Buddha is housed in a chapel.
The Nalanda Archaeological Museum:
The museum, although small in size, stands just opposite the entrance of the excavated site. It has an impressive collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and a number of undamaged statues of the Lord Buddha that were found in the area. Two enormous terra-cotta jars, which stand behind the museum in a shaded enclosure, date back to 1st century.
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara: The institute, devoted to the study and research in Pali Literature and Buddhism, is a new addition to the tourist attractions in Nalanda. Many students come to study here from abroad.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall:
The hall is constructed recently in memory of the famed Chinese traveler Hieun Tsang.
How to Reach Nalanda:
the nearest airport from Nalanda is Patna which is just 90kms away from Nalanda. Patna being the capital of Bihar, Regular flights operated by several public and private airlines connect Patna to cities like: Delhi, Kolkata.
There is excellent road network that covers Nalanda. Important destinations and cities like, Patna, Bodhgaya, Rajgir, Delhi, Kolkata are linked to Nalanda by road network.
The nearest railhead is Bakhtiyarpur, only 38Kms away from Nalanda. It falls on the Delhi-Howrah (Kolkata) main line. Several important trains connect this railway station to several major places in India.