Visited by the Buddha & site of the great Buddhist
trip from Rajgir is to Nalanda. This small village and its
surrounding area have numerous associations with the
Buddha and his disciples. Sailo 3 kilometres south-west of
Nalanda is where the Buddha met and converted Maha Kassapa,
the man who was later to become his successor. A large
statue of Kassapa with an inscription on it was found in
the village in the early 1900's but unfortunately its
whereabouts is now unknown. The village of Kul some 1.5
kilometres south-east of Nalanda is the Kolita of old and
the birthplace of Moggalana, the second of the Buddha's
two chief disciples. Nalanda itself was often visited by
the Buddha during his numerous sojourns through Magadha
and he taught several important discourses there.
In about the 5th century B.C. a monastic university was
established at Nalanda that was eventually to develop into
the greatest ancient centre of Buddhist learning. Students
from China and Korea, Sri Lanka and Indonesia and from all
the regions of India came to Nalanda to study. When Hiuen
Tsiang was studying at Nalanda in the 7th century there
were 1510 teachers and 8500 students. The Tibetan pilgrim
Dharmaswamin was here in 1234 and has left a gripping
account of the monastery's destruction by the Muslims.
Attractions of Nalanda
Established in the 5th century B.C., Nalanda is
recorded as the world's earliest university. Buddha
is believed to have visited Nalanda a number of
times. His favourite disciple, Sariputra was born
here and he died preaching at this place. In the 3rd
century B.C., Mauryan Emperor Ashoka honoured the
famous monk with a grand stupa. Gradually, it became
associated with the monks and scholars gathered here
for discourses and by 5th century B.C., it acquired
the position of a well established monastery under
Since the time of Buddha, the bhikkus were always
encouraged to study the various arts and sciences.
Learning was greatly encouraged as served dual
proposes: knowledge and practice. The monks,
therefore took to learning so that they might
practice it and realize Dharma perfectly and thereby
enrich the masses. The old an incapable were
suggested to attach more importance to the practice
of meditation. Buddha is believed to have said that
if a man live in a Sangha for a few days only and
observe the percepts described in the Patimokha, his
life would be more precious than his previous one.
A long succession of kings from 5th to 12th century
extended their royal patronage to ensure the
progress and prosperity of the university. A copper
plate inscription tells us about the erection of a
monastery by the king of Sumatra and records and
grant of five villages by the Pala Kings for the
maintenance of the monastery at the request of the
Nalanda during its hey days was a flourishing
residential university with over 10,000 students and
1500 teachers. The university was marked by a lofty
wall and one gate. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim
spent three years at Nalanda. He has left a detailed
note about the university, its curriculum
activities and other accounts. He describes about
the tall Sangharana buildings which were 3 to 6
storeys high. One of them was capped with a 80 ft.
high copper image of Buddha. Another Chinese pilgrim
was I-Tsing, who spent 10 years at this university
and attests for 8 monastic buildings and over 300
Nalanda today is in ruins but still it imparts the
scholarly look. The archaeological zone here is
classified into a number of sites that include 11
monasteries and several temples built in red bricks.
- The Nalanda
Opposite the entrance to the ruins of the university
and houses, it has 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 terracotta 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
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and
research in Pali Literature and Buddhism. This is a
new institute, where students from foreign countries
In between Nalanda and Rajgir, there is a village
namely Silao, where a very popular local sweet "Khaja"
- Surajpur Baragaon
The lake with its temple to Surya, the Sun god, is a
pilgrim destination twice a year in 'Vaishakha'
(April-May) and in "Kartika" (October-November),
during the Chhath Puja or sun Worship.
The nearest airport is Patna 93 kms.
The nearest railway station on Delhi-Howrah
(Calcutta) main line is Bakhtiyarpur 38 Kms. Though
the loop line connects Nalanda.
Nalanda is connected by Road to Patna, Rajgir, Gaya,
Delhi and Calcutta.