has the distinction of being one of the oldest system of beliefs in the
world. Since the religion took its birth on the Indian soil, the country is
replete with Buddhist sites and pilgrimages. Nalanda is one such destination
that gives an insight into the origin and the development of Buddhism in
India. Established in the 5th century AD, Nalanda is famous for the
university, which is one of the most ancient and a library which is redolent
with books and doctrines of Buddhist faith. Between the 5th and the 12th
centuries, Nalanda gained renown as a major centre for Buddhist learning.
The Chinese traveller, Hieun Tsang arrived at Nalanda in the 7th century AD
and spent 12 years at the university. Later, he gave a substantial account
of the university in his writings.
Location & Climate
Nalanda lies in the state of Bihar at a distance of 62 km from Bodhgaya.
Patna, which is also the closest airport, is at a distance of 90 km from
Bodhgaya. Summers are hot in Nalanda and the temperature can shoot up to a
maximum of 37.8 degrees Centigrade. During winters, temperature drops down
to a minimum of 10. 6 degrees. June to September is the monsoon time.
October to March is the suitable time to pay a visit to Nalanda. Light
woolens are advisable for winters.
A selected seat of learning in the ancient times, Nalanda offers to see a
number of tourist attractions that represent the educational advancement in
the bygone eras. During the rule of the Gupta kings, the Nalanda University
was established as a major seat for learning Buddhism.
Nalanda University Archaeological Complex :
The ruins of the ancient
Nalanda University are the biggest draw for tourists here. The university
complex claims an area of 14 hectares. The red brick buildings of the past
with gardens are a sight to behold for visitors. Moving from north to south,
one can observe the walkway that runs through the complex. To the east of
the central ally once stood the viharas and the chaitya halls that were used
by the Buddhist monks and monk-students.
» Nalanda Archaeological Museum :
The museum is a
window to the Buddhist settlements at the university. Though small in size,
the museum has a fascinating collection of Buddhist artifacts, bronze
utensils, terracotta jars and images of Lord Buddha. The terracotta jars are
said to date back to the 1st century. The museum lies opposite to the
entranceway of the excavated site.
» Nava Nalanda Mahavihara :
A recent addition to the
attraction galore at Nalanda, the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is a major centre
to study the Pali Literature and Buddhism. Students from far and wide arrive
here to study the ancient teachings.
» Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall :
The Hieun Tsang
Memorial Hall is another recent construction at Nalanda. The Chinese
traveller Hieun Tsang stayed at Nalanda for 12 years. Later, he mentioned
about teachings at the university in his travelogue. The hall stands to
commemorate his visit to the Nalanda University.
Nalanda does not have too many accommodation options except for some
tourist bungalows run by the state tourism department. However, one can
choose to stay at Patna that has a number of stay options. The popular
hotels of Patna are as follows.
Hotels in Nalanda
¤ Hotel Maurya Patna (Luxury)
¤ Hotel Chanakya (Luxury)
¤ Hotel President (Budget)
¤ Hotel Patliputra Ashok (Budget)
Patna, at a distance of 89 km, is the closest airport from Nalanda. The
airport has regular flight to/ from places like Kolkata, Delhi, Ranchi,
Mumbai, Varanasi, Lucknow and Kathmandu. Rajgir, at 12 km, is the closest
railhead. However, Gaya, 65 km away, is the major railway station lying
close to Nalanda. A good network of roads connects Nalanda to the nearby
cities and towns of the state.