Nalanda is one of the attractive location for a Bihar Tour. The classical global seat of knowledge, notably well-planned premises that housed more than 10,000 learners. And a place existed for more than 700 years before it was brought down. It is also a place introduced to us by the writings of explorers Huan Tsang and I-Tsing.
The word Nalanda derived from Sanskrit meaning the giver of wisdom, a well thought out name.
Once you enter the well-maintained ruins, one can still see those ancient old red bricks which are there for more than 1600 years…. There are – places of learning(like a lecture hall), their dormitories(rooms) and the wells.
One can see how the scholars and lecturers lived mutually & pursued collective learning.
According to documents, there were 108 units in the University of which only 11 have discovered. What you see most prominently is the empty niches, which apparently had some great idols decorating them. Glancing out from bare walls here and there are the ornate designs, a lot of them in the typical shape of a Chaitya.
The effluent system is still working and drains out all the rainwater even today. Some principles were meant for exercising and meditation. There are dedicated stupas and miniature shrines all around the main sepulchres and temples. Which may have been added at different points in time by the devotees or they have been placed here post-shovelling. Even the little stupas have some mortar remaining at their bases and arches that tell about their unique ornate state. In some stupas, the form of the bricks has been moulded to give some geometric and some auspicious shapes.
There are only two stone pillars that we have seen. There is evidence that these buildings were built during different periods of history and a lot of times one above the other. Excavators found images in stone, plaster, and bronzes from here. All the excavated images can be seen in the ASI(Archaeological Survey of India) museum across the road from the ruins. An impressive discovery is the burnt rice that is about 900 years old from a granary.
The variety of subjects studied at Nalanda included theology, logic, philosophy, medicine, astrophysics, grammar.Students came here to study from across the globe. Some, like Huan Tsang, was wise enough to document the life and times of Nalanda. Otherwise, we may not have known this beautiful part of our history and heritage. The university spread over an area of more than 10 sq. Km or so, as of now only about 1 sq. Km has been excavated and ruins restored.
Some sources say: that when students came here for admission, the gatekeepers who were also very knowledgeable people tested them at the university gate. Only if the aspirants passed the test were they admitted to the university.
Ancient history lies here and this place we would recommend everyone to visit when you are in Patna. Reaching here is very easy. The nearest airport is at Patna which is approx 90 km.
By Rail one can come up to Rajgir Railway station; from there it is 15 km drive. From Patna by road, it is 90 km drive
Sweet to try in Nalanda
Khaja one of the famous sweet dish that one can have in Nalanda. A mouthwatering crisp fried oblong dessert made of layers of folded flour dip in syrup. Khaja has many kinds but the one in quadrangular shape is recommended.
Picture Credit goes to – Gaurav sen