Founded in the 5th centuary A.D. Nalanda is known as the ancient seat of learning. World’s most ancient University lies in ruins which is 62 kms from Bodhgaya and 90 kms south of Patna. Emperor Ahoka built many monastries, temples and Viharas here.
Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous centre of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hiuen Tsang stayed here in 7th century and has left detailed description of the excellence of education and purity of monastic life practiced here. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. The Gupta kings patronised these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples and monasteries here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. Hiuen Tsang had left ecstatic accounts of both the ambiance and architecture of this unique university of ancient times. An international Centre for Buddhist Studies was established here in 1951. Nearby is Bihar Sharif, 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.
Altitude: 67 metres.
Temperature (deg C): Summer- Max. 37.8, Min. 17.8; Winter- Max.27.8, Min.10.6
Rainfall: 120 cms (June to September)
Best Season: October to March.
TRANSPORT AND COMMUNICATION
- Air : The nearest airport is at Patna 89 kms. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Calcutta, Ranchi, Bombay, Delhi and Lucknow.
Fare : Calcutta – Patna Rs.1697/- (C), Rs.1370/- (Y).
- Rail : Though Rajgir (12 kms) is the nearest railway station to Nalanda yet the nearest convenient railheadis at Gaya 65 kms.
Fare : Calcutta – Rajgir Rs.564 (AC-2A), Rs.425 (I), Rs.159 (II). Calcutta – Gaya Rs.485 (AC-2A), Rs.375 (I), Rs.142 (II).
- Road : Nalanda is connected by good road with Rajgir 12 kms, Bodh Gaya 50 kms, Gaya 65 kms, Patna 90 kms, Pawapuri 26 kms, Bihar Sharif 13 kms etc.
- Local Transport : There are no taxis available in Nalanda. Cycle rickshws and tongas are the only modes of transport.
WHAT TO SEE
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall, The Nalanda University Complex, Swarajpur Baragon. The Nalanda Museum (Opens 1000 to 1700 hours. Closed on Friday.)
A 11.5 m high Ashokan column was erected here in 249 BC. The polished sandstone pillar has six edicts on it. The site is 30 km from Motihari.
This site, 23 km from Bettiah and 14 km from Shikarpur, has the famous lion pillar erected by Ashoka. The 8.5 m polished sandstone column also has an edict engraved on it. Nearby there are the remains of Nandangarh Stupa, believed to contain the ashes of the Buddha.
Bihar Sharif 13 kms, Gaya 65 kms, Bodh Gaya 50 kms, Rajgir 12 kms.