Nalanda, founded in the 5th century AD, is famous as the ancient seat of learning. The ruins of the world's most ancient university lies here which is 62 km from Bodhgaya and 90 km south of Patna. Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous center of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hieun Tsang stayed here in the 7th century AD and left detailed description of the excellence of education system and purity of monastic life practiced here. He also gave a vivid account of both the ambiance and architecture of this unique university of ancient times. In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. The Gupta kings patronized these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Emperor Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples, monasteries and viharas here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. An International Center for Buddhist Studies was established here in 1951. Nearby is Biharsharif, where an annual urs is celebrated at the Dargah or tomb of Malik Ibrahim Baya. Baragaon, 2 km away has a sun temple, famous for Chhath puja. To be visited are Nalanda museum & Nava Nalanda Mahavihar in addition to the great ruins.
Temperature (Max./Min.) Deg C: Summer 37.8/17.8; Winter 27.8/10.6.
Rainfall:120 cm (June to September).
Best Season: October to March.
Clothing: Summer – Cottons; Winter - Heavy Woollens.
How to Reach
Air: The nearest airport is at Patna 89 km. Indian Airlines connect Patna
to Calcutta, Ranchi, Bombay, Delhi and Lucknow.
Rail: Though Rajgir (12 km) is the nearest railway station to Nalanda yet the nearest convenient rail head is at Gaya 95 km.
Road: Nalanda is connected by good road with Rajgir 12 km, Bodh Gaya 110 km, Gaya 95 km, Patna 90 km, Pawapuri 26 km, Bihar Sharif 13 km etc.
Local Transport: Taxis and Buses are available.
What to Visit
Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological ComplexThe total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of the red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walk way that goes south to north. The monasteries or "Viharas" are east of this central alley and the temple or "Chaiyas" to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around Nalanda University Ruinsa central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha.
The enormous pyramidal mass of the Temple no .3 is impressive and from its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas, many of which studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in Various poses or "Mudras".
Nalanda Archaeological MuseumOpposite the entrance to the ruins of the university and houses, there is a small but beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and a number of undamaged statues of the Lord Buddha that were found in the area. Two enormous terra-cotta jars of the first century stand intact behind the museum in a shaded enclosure. The collection includes copper plates and stone inscriptions, coins, pottery and samples of burnt rice (12th century AD) found among the ruins here.
Nava Nalanda MahaviharaNava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and research of Pali Literature and Buddhism. This is a new institute, where students from foreign countries also study.
Hieun Tsang Memorial HallBirth place of Lord Mahavira. 4Km.It is believed that the Jain Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir was born over 2550 years ago. Mahavir is said to have spent the first 22 years of his life here.
PawapuriPawapuri, or Apapuri, 38 kilometers from Rajgir and 101 kilometers from Patna, all sins end for a devout Jain. Lord Mahavira, the final Tirthankar and founder of Jainism, breathed his last at this place, and was cremated here around 500 B.C. It is said that the demand for his ashes was so great that a large amount of soil was removed from around the funeral pyre, creating the water tank. A marble temple, the “Jalmandir”, was later built in the middle of the tank, and is now a major pilgrimage spot for Jains. Another Jain temple called Samosharan is located here.
Bari DargahThis is headquarters of Nalanda district that lays 30 kms South of Bakhtiarpur on NH-31. This is also a railhead on the Bakhtiarpur Rajgir branch line of the Eastern Indian Railway. This town is known as Bihar Sharif, owing to its many Muslim tombs that still retain traces of its former importance as a Muslim pilgrimage. There is a hill called Pir Pahari, about 1 m to the northwest of the town. At its summit is the dargah or mausoleum of the Saint Mallik Ibrahim Bayu, round which are tem smaller tombs. It is a brick structure surmounted by a dome and bears inscriptions showing that the saint died in 1353. Another great dargah is that of Mokhdum Shah Sharif ud-din, also called Makhdum-ul-Mulk, died here in 1379; the inscription over the entrance shows that his tomb was built in 1569. This tomb, which stands on the south bank of the river, is held in great veneration by the local Mohammedans, who assemble here on the 5th day of Sawan to celebrate the anniversary of his death. The Chhoti Dargah is the shrine of Badruddin Badr-I-Alam, famous saint who died here in 1440.
Chhoti DargahDargah of Makhdum Hazrat Sultan Ahmed Charampose, Bihar Sharif (Nalanda). The biggest and the oldest building of Mohalla-Amber in the Bihar Sharif Town (Nalanda), is Tomb of Hazarat Makhdum Sultan Saiyad Shah Ahmed Charampose Teg Barhana Rohmatulla Alaib. He was born in the year 1236 and passed away in 1335 (according to Islamic calendar 657-776 Hizri). He is ranked to a very high order among other Sufi saints and Auliahs. Thousands and thousand of people participate in the ‘Urs’ celebrated here in memory of the Saint every year.