THE ANCIENT SEAT OF LEARNING
Towards the Southeast of Patna is a village called the 'Bada Gaon', in the vicinity of which, are the world famous ruins of Nalanda University. Housing about 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers, this university attracted pupils from all over the world. A Walk in the ruins of the university, takes you to an era, that saw India leading in imparting knowledge, to the world - the era when India was a coveted place for studies. The university flourished during the 5th and 12th century.
This place saw the rise and fall of many empires and emperors who contributed in the development of Nalanda. Many monasteries and temples were built by them. King Harshwardhana gifted a 25m high copper statue of Buddha and Kumargupta endowed a college of fine arts here. Nagarjuna- a Mahayana philosopher, Dinnaga- founder of the school of logic and Dharmpala- the Brahmin scholar, taught here.
The famous Chinese traveller and scholar, Hieun-Tsang stayed here and has given a detailed description of the situations prevailing at that time. Careful excavation of the place has revealed many stupas, monasteries, hostels, stair cases, meditation halls, lecture halls and many other structures which speak of the splendour and grandeur this place enjoyed, when the place was a centre of serious study.
PRIME SITES IN NALANDA
The Ruins Of Nalanda University:
The ruins of Nalanda university is spread over an area of 14 hectares. This university was totally built with Red Bricks. The Nalanda University attracted scholars from all over the world.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall:
Hieun Tsang was a Chinese traveller, who came to India in around 5th century. He has given a very detailed and vivid description of the Indian political and social conditions at that time. His writing is considered to be one of the most authentic sources of information of that period. Hieun Tsang was also attracted by the glory of Nalanda University. He came and stayed here, both as a student and as a teacher. As a student, he studied Yoga for six years under Acharya Shil Bhadra. He was in Nalanda for twelve years. The memorial has been built in his memory.
Near the University of Nalanda, is a temple dedicated to the Sun God. This temple has a number of statues of Hindu and Buddhist deities. The five feet high statue of Parvati is of particular interest and attraction.
This museum was established in 1971 and has a good collection of ancient manuscripts and Buddhist statues. The manuscripts kept here were found during the excavation of area and many of them are rare in appearance and style. The museum also displays the culture of the Hindu society during the Maurya, Gupta and other periods.
Nav Nalanda Vihar:
To keep alive the ancient tradition of spreading knowledge, Bihar Government has set up a Pali Institute near the ancient university. In this institute, Indian as well as foreign students study and do research work. This institute was established in 1951, near the famous Lotus Pond. This Institute has been attracting students from Japan, Sri Lanka, Korea, Tibet, Bhutan, Indonesia etc. Mainly students do research work on Buddhism and Pali here.
Just 1.6 kms from the ruins of Nalanda, is this place called Kundalpur. The Digambar sect of the Jains believes that the 24 th and the last Tirthankar, Lord Mahavira was born here. There are many Jain temples in this village.
EXCURSIONS FROM NALANDA
Just 15 kms from Nalanda, is located the complex of temples and monasteries. The place is called Rajgir. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place.
HOW TO GET THERE
The nearest Airport is that of Patna, which is 90 kms away.
The Nalanda Railway Station is on the branch route of Bhaktiyarpur-Rajgir section of the Eastern Railway.
Nalanda is well connected by roads to other parts of the state. Particularly from Patna the bus services are good. The Bihar State tourism Department has its buses running from Nalanda to other parts of the state.
Shared jeeps, tongas.
WHERE TO STAY IN NALANDA
PWD Rest House, Nalanda.
SHOPPING IN NALANDA
The main market is that of Rajgir, where there are shops selling decorative items and gift articles. The handicraft material at Rajgir is one of the items, which can be bought. Then there are stone and sea-shell items which are very popular among tourists. The jewellery is also some thing, which every body looks in for. One can also go for shopping in the Kund area of Rajgir.
OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION
Tourist Information Center - Nalanda, Bihar, India.
Tourist Information Center - Kund Market, Rajgir (Bihar) India.
Population: 30, 000 people (approx.)
Climate: Hot summers and cold winters.
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