One of the oldest universities in the world dating back to the 5th century, Nalanda University was a Buddhist university with around 10,000 monks and students which was later destroyed by the Muslim invasion. It is believed that about 9 million manuscripts were burnt in the destruction and now there are only ruins to see and imagine the history. It is the second most visited place in Bihar and was recognized by UNESCO as well. It is located in theNalanda district of Bihar.
About the best time to visit Nalanda University Ruins, October to March is apt time as the weather remains favourable during this time.
History of Nalanda University Ruins
Much of the knowledge we have about Nalanda comes from the pilgrim monks’ writings on the wall. Nalanda University used to be an epitome of knowledge and was one of the best schools at its time. At its peak, it was attracting students and scholars not only from India but also from Central Asia, Korea, China, and Tibet. All the students here compulsorily studied 18 sects of Buddhism and Mahayana. Their courses also included subjects like Samkhya, Sanskrit grammar, logic, and medicine.
It is believed that Nalanda was destroyed and ransacked around 1200 CE by the army of the Mamluk Dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate, following the rules of Bakhtiyar Khalji. Some sources say Mahavira continued to teach in a makeshift arrangement post the attack. However, all the teaching activities were completely shut off eventually. Archaeological Survey of India found the Nalanda University ruins in the 19th century.
Major Attractions in and Around Nalanda University Ruins
1. The Classrooms at Nalanda University
Around 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers used to come to the university to attend classes of Philosophy, religion, Buddhism, and various other scientific thoughts like astronomy, mathematics, anatomy, etc. More than 100 students used to take the class in a single classroom and they were not permitted to visit anywhere else during the classes.
2. Dormitory of the Students
It was the first of its kind boarding university in its right sense. It was differentiated into three floors where new students used to live in the basement, mid-level students used to stay at the ground, dormitory captain and experienced students used to stay at the top floor. All the floors were connected through a stairway system.
3. Ventilation System at the Dormitory
Proper windows were not constructed inside. However, fresh air and sunlight used to come by the ventilation system that was an opening at the dormitory. The ventilation system was wide and inclined in such a way to permit the air and sunlight to come in through.
How to Reach Nalanda University Ruins
To reach Nalanda, you will need to cover a total distance of about 1,182, 1,821, 484, 2,088 km from Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Check out the following details on how you can reach the ruins of Nalanda University by the following means of public transportation.
The nearest airport is the Patna Airport (PAT) situated about 80-90 km away. The airport is fairly well-connected with several other Indian cities and sees a number of top air carriers operating to and fro at a good frequency. From the airport, you will need to take a taxi to reach here. For travelling within the district, you can hire tongas and cycle-rickshaws at cheap rates.
From Surat - Board Spicejet, IndiGo, Go Air flights from Surat Airport. The airfares are starting from INR 5,000-6,000
From Amritsar - Board Air India, IndiGo, Vistara, Spicejet flights from Amritsar Airport. The airfares are starting from INR 5,000-6,000
From Gwalior - Board Spicejet, IndiGo flights from Gwalior Airport. The airfares start from INR 7,000-8,000
The nearest train station is the Rajgir Junction situated 10-15 km away, however, you should consider deboarding at Gaya Junction, situated 80-90 km away, due to its overall good train connectivity with other regions and districts. From the station, you can easily book a taxi to reach here.
From Delhi - Board NDLS HWH SPL from New Delhi Junction and deboard at Gaya Junction
From Kanpur - Board PURSHOTTAM SPL from Kanpur Central and deboard at Gaya Junction
From Amritsar - Board ASR KOAA SUP SPL from Amritsar Junction and deboard at Gaya Junction
Nalanda district has good road connectivity with other Indian cities and towns via motorable highways and roads. Depending upon your location, you can choose to travel here by private/state-run buses, taxis or by self-driving here.