Nalanda University ruins or Ancient Nalanda university archaeological complex is located in nalanda district of bihar and recently got the status of world heritage site from UNESCO. Ancient nalanda university ruins is truly one of the most popular tourist places in bihar.
Nalanda university ruins is a archaeological site where every year millions of tourists across the world visit to get a glimpse of how one of the world’s oldest university and learning center had led the foundation of imparting cultural and educational values in contemporary india almost 1500 years ago.
History of Ancient Nalanda University
Nalanda University came into existence during the rule of Kumargupta first of Gupta Dynasty in 5th century who was profoundly inspired by the buddhism like his ancestors. Even prior to the university foundation stone was led, Nalanda was a pivotal of education specially the center of buddhist culture and learning. It is known from the historical facts that Buddha and Mahavira had visited nalanda and made it their home for some period and delivered their teachings during their life time in 6th Century BC. Emperor Ashoka had also contributed immensely for the flourishing of Buddhism in Nalanda during his life time. He constructed many vihara and shrines for buddhist monks in nalanda.
Nalanda university popularity as the center of learning and education reached across himalyas and indian ocean, which resulted students started thronging Nalanda from distant countries like Japan, Korea, China, Mangolia,Vietnam and Sri lanka. During its most prosperous period, approximately 10000 students were studying various subject like grammar, logic, metaphysics, astronomy, medicine, philosophy and theology. More than 1500 teachers were appointed by the university management committee to carry out the task of imparting excellence educational values among students in their respective subjects. Apart from this, The teachers were also responsible to train them with high level of moral and social values in order to make them responsible for the society as well as their families. The high level of education and learning was never compromised and so getting admission in Nalanda University was highly competitive. Students had to undergo various round of interviews, debate and group discussions to secure admissions as known by the inscriptions found at the excavation site and various other sources such as writings of Chinese traveler huen Stang.
Nalanda University was regarded as the best educational institution in contemporary world. Apart from Gupta dynasty, It was harvardhan ( 606 AD to 647 AD), the ruler of Kannauj who continued furtherance to the university and tried to restore its glory after hun invader mihirakula partially destroyed it . Later on the rulers of Pala dynasty( 8 AD to 12 AD) from bengal extended their financial and administrative support to the university.
Decline of Nalanda University
The actual decline of Nalanda University started during later Pala Rulers as they got involved in war against invaders attacking their kingdom and got neutral about the university. However, It was Bakhtiyar Khilji, a turkish invader overran the institution in 1200 AD and completely destroyed it. His army set the university on fire which resulted in burning of millions of books and manuscripts stored in the library which were written by contemporary scholars. With this final blow, the nalanda university underwent into oblivion in history till the inception of 20th century.
Architect and structure
The serious effort to find out the ruins of nalanda university actually started in 1915 when archaeological survey of india started excavation at the site which by that time was looking like a mound of soil covered with bushes. This excavation lasted for 22 years with various in between periodical stops. After 25 years of independence, again in 1972 the remaining parts were began excavated which lasted for 10 years. this revealed the actual architectural style and structure of nalanda university. The main campus of the university was extended in an area of approximately a square kilometer. This used to house 6 temples made up of bricks and 11 monasteries which were standing in systematic rows on eastern and western side respectively on both sides of a 98 feet wide road running from north to south. Every monastery housed a number of rooms having almost similar dimensions. One of the most effective structure which has been excavated lie in extreme southern part of the main campus. This is the third temple on the eastern side of the main pathway and surrounded by smaller shrines and voting stupas.
Things unearthed in nalanda excavation
As a result of excavation, various things have been unearthed in nalanda. most of these, are kept for exhibition in a nearby museum run by archaeological survey of india. Following are the list of things which has been found in excavation.
- Images and sculpture of stones, bronze and stucco.
- Statue of hindu god and goddesses shiva, parvati, vishnu, ganesha, surya
- Statue of mahisashur
- clay potteries
- stone inscriptions
- bricks inscriptions
Places near nalanda university vihar
Sun temple at surajpur, Bargaon
sun temple is located 3 kms from ancient ruins of nalanda university and a famous religious temple for hindus. the temple is dedicated to sun god. every year during chath festival, thousands of people from all over bihar visit this place for arghya in the holy pond near the temple.
Nalanda Archaeological Museum
Nalanda archaeological museum is located just opposite the entrance of nalanda ruins main gate. The museum exhibits the sculptures, statues and various things excavated from nalanda.
Huen Stang memorial hall
Comparatively a new construction at nalanda is a tribute to the ancient chinese traveler huen Stang.
Nalanda 3D Museum
Besides the Nalanda University ruins complex, a privately run 3D museum is located which presents the history of Nalanda university using 3D animation and other audio visual presentation. It has been getting popularity among tourists.
There are various tourist places to visit in rajgir located at a distance of 15 kms.
Nalanda travel guide
Best time to visit
Nalanda can be visited throughout the year but the best time to visit is between october and march. In october between 24th and 26th every year, bihar tourism department organizes a cultural program of folk dances. apart from this, you can also visit nalanda during the holy festival of chath, where you can also experience the culture of bihar.
Weather at nalanda
Remains hot and humid between april to june and from moderate to cold during october to march.
Opening and closing times
The Nalanda ruins remain open between 9 AM to 5 PM.
How to Reach Nalanda
Nalanda is well connected by road through other parts of bihar. it is located at a distance of 90 Km from patna and 15 Km from district headquarter biharsarif.
The nearest railway station rajgir located at a distance of 15 Kms having daily trains from patna and delhi.
if you want to come by air, the nearest domestic airport is patna which have daily flights from all major metro cities.