Nalanda is one of the oldest known
Universities of the world and major Buddhist travel destination of India.
According to the ruins it has been found that over 2,000 Buddhist teachers
and 10,000 students from all over the world studied the Buddhist religion
and its scriptures. Nalanda can be called an international center of Buddhist
learning. Hieun T Sang who came to study Buddhism in the 7th century left
many valuable descriptions of the place.
Buddha's two main desciples namely Maha Kassapu and Moggalana stayed in
Nalanda and preached his lessons. It was even the birth place of his second
desciple Moggalana in a nearby village known as Kul.
Location of Nalanda
Located in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, Nalanda was the seat of ancient
learning popular among the Buddhist and the Jains. The place is situated at
a distance of 90 km from the state capital Patna.
Nalanda, being in the Gangetic plains suffers from extreme weather
conditions. The temperature during summer can reach a maximum of 37.8°C
while the minimum temperature dips down to as low as 10.6°C. The best
time to travel the place is in between the months of October to March.
Major Buddhist Attractions in Nalanda
Nalanda University -
Formed in the 5th century, the
Nalanda University is the world's earliest known Universities. Buddha
visited it a number of times and his favourite disciple Sariputra was born
at the same place. Here lies a grand Stupa of the Lord Gautama built by
Emperor Ashoka in his honour. Slowly and steadily it became the place of
discourse of the monks and acquired the status of an established monasteries
during the time of the Gupta rule. The succession of kings offered their
royal patronage to ensure the progress of the University. The proof of it
might be found in the copper plate inscription revealing the fact about the
construction of a monastery by the king of Sumatra.
The Nalanda Archaeological Museum -
Museum to the opposite of the university houses a small and beautiful
collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronze medallions. Also placed inside are
few undamaged statues of the Lord Buddha. Behind the museum stands two huge
terracota Jars in a shaded enclosure of the 1st century. The collections
includes stone inscriptions, coins, pottery of different shapes and sample
of burnt rice apart from the copper plates.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall -
The Chinese traveller Hieun
T Sang who came to India in the 5th century gave a detailed description of
the political and social condition of the place. He also studied in the
university of Nalanda and took lessons as a student and later preached as a
teacher. The Chinese traveller also studied yoga for 6 years under Archarya
Shil Bhadra. The memorial has been built on his behalf as his remembrance.
Surya Mandir -
Located at a little distance from the
University of Nalanda, is the temple of Surya Mandir, major travel attraction
of Nalanda, dedicated to the Sun God. This temple has a number of statues of
Hindu and Buddhist deities, and holds a five feet high statue of Parvati which
is of special interest and attraction.
Nav Nalanda Vihar -
The ancient tradition of spreading
knowledge was kept alive by the Bihar Government which set up a Pali
Institute near the ancient university. In this institute, Indian as well as
foreign students come for study and research work. Established in 1951, near
the famous Lotus Pond, it has been attracting students from Japan, Sri
Lanka, Korea, Tibet, Bhutan, Indonesia etc. Mainly students do research work
on Buddhism and Pali literature.