Nalanda, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is renowned for having been the world’s most ancient university. Indeed, visiting the ruins of Nalanda makes us wonder at the brilliant educational system prevailing in the country during that time. It’s well known, and it has been well documented that Nalanda University attracted students from all around the world, and gaining a seat required one to pass a tough exam.
Located 62km from Bodhgaya and 90km south of Patna, this famous seat of learning is believed to have been visited by Lord Buddha several times. However, it gained a worldwide eminence in the 5th to 12th centuries. Hieun Tsang, who stayed here in the 7th century AD, left a detailed description of the impressive education system and the perfect practice of pure monastic life prevailing there. Nalanda University, which was also the first international residential university in the world, consisted of 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monk students from all over the Buddhist world.
Today this region is a popular tourist attraction for people around the world, mainly because of its fascinating ruins.
Visitors can view the fascinating ruins at Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex. The total area of the excavation is about 14ha, and consists of several monasteries. The most interesting of all is Vihara–1, which contains cells on two floors built around a central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for professors to address their students.
Apart from this, The Nalanda Archeological Museum is the best place to be, where you can witness a collection of undamaged statues of Buddha, Buddhist and Hindu bronzes, terracotta jars etc.
The other popular attraction, Nava Nalanda Mahavihara, has students from around the world devoted to the study and research of Pali literature and Buddhism. Nalanda Multimedia Museum narrates the history through 3D animations and other multimedia techniques. A memorial hall named Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall built in remembrance of the Buddhist monk and traveler, Hieun Tsang, has his skull-bone as a relic. Nalanda draws a beautiful picture of the past and would compel you to visit it again and again. Know more about Nalanda and its nearby attractions in the Nalanda Travel Guide by Indian Holiday.