Ever been to Nalanda? Now is probably the best time to make a visit. Located in Bihar, legend has it that Nalanda got its name from a Naga named Nalanda, but some say the name represent Nalam which means Lotus and Lotus is a symbol of Knowledge. It is world renowned since ancient times as a great center for education which is evident from the ruins of Nalanda University, one of the foremost universities in the world which is more than 1500 years old. Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira frequently visited this place and later the Gupta Kings established the university. The Archaeology Department of India declared Nalanda as an important historical site with lot more to uncover. For the history fanatics, Nalanda is a g0-to destination for sure.
Below are the 4 must visit spots at Nalanda
• Nalanda University
One among the first residential universities in the whole world, the Nalanda University once used to house students from countries like Persia, Korea, Turkey, Indonesia and China. The university was established in the 5th century AD. Today it is a must visit tourist attraction in Patna. Excavations held here have found eleven monasteries and six temples. There are many Buddha statues within the premises which signify it was a Buddhist monastery in those old days. The structure is massive and used to house a well-equipped library.
The students studied various subjects like the Mahayana, the Hinayana [eighteen sects of Buddhism], the Vedas, Shabdavidya [grammer], Chikitsavidya [medicine] and astronomy. Later when Buddhism started to disappear in India the university slowly declined and became non-functioning.
• Shiva Temple
A spiritual center for the Hindus at Ramchandrapur near to the Nalanda ruins, the Shiva Temple here is visited by devotees from all parts of Bihar. Though the temple is not a huge decorated one, it is of great religious significance for them. Legend has it that Lord Krishna and Balarama visited here during the period of Mahabharatha.
• Nalanda Archaeological Museum
Just opposite to the Nalanda University ruins is this museum which houses beautiful collection of Hindu and Buddhist bronzes along with statues of Buddha, copper plates, coins, pottery and more which were found here during excavations conducted by the Archaeology Survey of India. Likely more than 2000 year old two terra-cotta jars are also among the valuable collections of this museum. The museum is opened to visitors every day except Friday from 10:00 am to 05:00 pm.
• Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall
Hieun-Tsang was a famous Chinese traveler and scholar who visited India and stayed at the Nalanda University during the 5th century AD for 12 years. He wrote extensively on Indian people and Indian culture. These writings provide authentic information about ancient India. It is situated at Kundalpur nearly 1km away from the Nalanda ruins.
Best time to visit?
Summer [April-June] is not recommended for tourists as it is too hot which makes it harsh for the visitors. Monsoon starts by June last week and lasts till October. This period is also not recommended to visitors if they do not like getting wet. Winter is for sure best time to visit Nalanda when it is cool, calm and lovely. It starts by the beginning of November and lasts till March.
How to reach?
The nearest airport is Patna International Airport which is 90 kms away from Nalanda. You can easily board a flight to Patna from any major cities in India as well as abroad.
Rajgir and Gaya are the nearest railheads to connect Nalanda 12kms and 95 kms away respectively.
Nalanda is well connected by road to nearby cities like Rajgir [12km], Bodh Gaya [110 km], Patna [90km], Bihar Sharif [13km]. You can easily reach Nalanda by bus which is available from all these cities which is accessible from any major cities in India.