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Nalanda - World famous ancient learning centre for the Buddhists OR its Buddhist sites and monuments

Literally meaning "insatiable in giving” Nalanda was an ancient spot of higher learning in the state of Bihar. This historic site is situated in the Nalanda District -- about 91 km from Patna. An incredible Buddhist center of learning, Nalanda is one of the first great universities in the recorded history of the country.

Nalanda University was patronized by the Great Ashoka (273–232 BCE). It received generous grants and was patronized by several other rulers also belonging to different dynasties and periods, such as the Gupta Empire, the Emperor Harsha and several rulers from the Pal Dynasty, which appeared on the scene much later.

The huge university complex was developed with red bricks and its ruins cover a total area of 14 hectares. At one time, the Nalanda University attracted pupils from distant countries such as China, Greece and Persia who came to this place to quench their thirst for knowledge.

Its wide name and fame caught the attention of many invaders, more so the Muslim invaders led by the Turkish Ruler Bakhtiyar Khalji who in 1193 destroyed and pillaged the great university by setting fire to it and driving away all the occupants, including the many students and teachers residing there.

His efforts to wipe out the university completely saw his army paying special attention to the university’s huge library. They tried to burn it but failed to do it at once as the library was so huge that it could be grounded to ash only with a great difficulty as it continued to burn non-stop or three months at a stretch.

Nalanda continued to remain glorious ruins till 2006, when India -- along with some nations such as Singapore, China and Japan – chalked-out an ambitious plan to revive and restore the ancient spot as Nalanda International University.

Nearby Attraction

Rajgir
Located in the same district of Nalanda, Rajgir, is the ex capital of the erstwhile Magadha Empire. This rocky terrain with verdant greenery and beautiful landscape has several gushing hot springs and lovely monuments. Its picture-perfect locations and sacred spots make the place a much favored destination for both the general travelers and religiously inclined visitors.

However, it is its religious and cultural significance -- for the Buddhists and the Jains in particular -- which really makes this city a famed tourist spot. This ancient city was a thriving city during the sixth century. Actually, as a platform of Buddha and Jain preaching, Rajgir occupies a major spot in the cultural and historical chronicle of the ancient India.

Surrounded with seven Hills, Rajgir is said to be the place where Lord Buddha stayed during the rainy season. The historical place has been a witness to some of the great sermons of both Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira. It was at Rajgir that the First Buddhist Council was organized following the nirvana of Buddha.

The famed Rajgir Dance festival organized at Rajgir is a much sought after cultural event that shows classic performances of expert artists, both classical and folk, and adds many layers to the appeal of the this nice tourist place -- which along with Nalanda, Bodh Gaya and Vaishali -- forms the famed Buddhist circuit of Bihar which occupies a high place in the list of historical and religious destinations of Bihar.

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