Nalanda is known as the ancient seat of learning, where ruins of the great
ancient university have been excavated, is situated at a distance
of 90 km south east of Patna by road & 62 kms from Bodhgaya.
It falls on way to Rajgir. It is also linked by rail with Patna,
Rajgir and Bakhtiyarpur (on Delhi-Howrah main track).
Hieun Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveller of the seventh century,
says that according to tradition the
place owed its name to a Naga of the same name which resided in
a local tank. But he thinks it more probable that Lord Buddha,
in one of his previous births as Bodhisatwa, became a king with
his capital at this place and that his liberality won for him
and his capital the name Nalanda or "Charity without intermission".
The third theory about the name of the place is that it derived
from Nalam plus da. Nalam means lotus which is a symbol for knowledge
and Da means given the place had many lotuses.
Nalanda has a very ancient history. It was frequently visited
by Lord Vardhamana Mahavir and Lord Buddha in the 6th century
BC. during his sajourns, the Lord Buddha found this place prosperous,
swelling, teeming with population and containing mango-groves.
It is also supposed to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of
the Chief disciple of the Lord Buddha.
University of Nalanda was founded in the 5th century by the Gupta
emperors. There were thousands of students and teachers. The courses
of study included scriptures of Buddhism (both Mahayana and Hinayana
Schools), Vedas, Hetu Vidya (Logic), Shabda Vidya (grammar), Chikitsa
vidya (medicine) etc. The university received royal patronage
of the great emperor Harshavardhana of Kannauj and also pala kings.It
was a great centre of learning and students from foreign centre
of learning and students from foreign countries were also attracted
to this university. Hieun Tsang received here the Indian name
Mokshdeva. Nalanda acquired a celebrity spread all over the east
as a centre of Buiddhist theology and ecucational activities.
Its importance as a monastic university continued until the end
of the 12th century. The ruins extend over a large area and represent
only a part of the extensive extablishment. Excavations have uncovered
nine levels of occupation.
great stupa flanked by flights of steps and terraces, votive stupas
and beautiful sculpture give the present day tourists a glimpse
of the past glory that once was Nalanda. Many of the stupas were
two or even three times built one over the other on the same spot.
In the course of excavation it has been found that the very small
original structure was enlarged by later temples built over and
around the ruins of the earlier ones. The main stupa is the result
of seven successive accumulations of the shrine-chamber on the
top, facing both, can be approached by the staircase of the sixth
period. It presumably contained a colossal image of the Lord Buddha,
as the pedestal therein would indicate.
row of monastery sites lies from south to north. By and large
all of them are of the same pattern. But most important of them
is site no.1, entrance of which lies in the west wall through
a large portico of which the roof rested on pillars. At a later
period this portico was converted into a porch with an ante-chamber
by the addition of two walls. Flanking this door there existed
stucco figures which having been badly damaged by fire in ancient
days fell to pieces as soon as they were exposed. Effects of this
fire are still visible on the western walls. The monastery consisted,
as usual, of a number of monk's cells with wide verandas in front,
originally set round an open quadrangular court, but later separated
from it by a high wall. It was originally a building of two, or
probably more storeys, as is apparent from the existence of stairs
in the south-east corner. In the courtyard there used to be Lord
Buddha's shrine and a well in each monastery.
Nalanda University Archaeological Complex:
The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the
edifices are of red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings
are divided by a central walkway that goes south to north, the
monasteries or "Viharas" are east of this central alley
and the temples of "Chaiyas" to the west. The Vihara-1
is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built
around a 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.
enormous pyramidal mass of the Temple No.3 is impressive and from
its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded
by smaller stupas, many of which are studded with small and big
statues of the Lord Buddha in various poses or 'Mudras'.
Nalanda Archaeological Museum :
Opposite the entrance to the ruins of the university and houses,
it has a small but beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu
bronzes and a number of undamaged statues of the Lord Buddha that
were found in the area. Two enormous terracotta Jars of the first
century stand intact behind the museum in a shaded enclosure.
The collection includes copper plates and stone inscriptions,
coins, pottery and samples of burnt rice (12th century AD) found
among the ruins here. Open during 10.00 to 17.00 hours. Closed
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and research in Pali
Literature and Buddhism. This is a new institute, where students
from foreign countries also study.
Tsang Memorial Hall :
A new construcion in memory of the great Chinese traveller, Hieun
Places of Interest:
Silao: In between Nalanda and Rajgir, there is a village namely
Silao, where a very popular local sweet "Khaja" is prepared
Baragaon: The lake with its temple to Surya, the Sun god,
is a pilgrim destination twice a year in 'Vaishakha' (April-May)
and in "Kartika" (October-November), during the Chhath
Puja or sun Worship.
Temperature (deg C): Summer- Max. 37.8, Min. 17.8. Winter-
Air: The nearest airport is Patna 93 KMs.
Rail: The nearest railway station on Delhi-Howrah (Calcutta)
main line is Bakhtiyarpur 38 Kms. Though the loop line connects
Road: Nalanda is connected by Road to Patna, Rajgir, Gaya,
Delhi and Calcutta.
Bodhgaya | Kesaria
| Lauria Nandangarh | Patna
| Pawapuri | Rajgir
| Vaishali | Vikramshila