Nalanda

There was a great Buddhist University, dating back to the 5th century, in xe “Nalanda” Nalanda, 90km southeast of Patna. All that is left is the ruins of the impressive university, which had 1,500 teachers and 8,500 students. Buddhist and Brahminical scriptures, medicine, Sanskrit, and logic were taught at the university. The Buddha and Mahavir visited Nalanda.

The Buddhist University once had a library containing nine million manuscripts. It was destroyed in 1199 by the Afghan Bhaktiar Khalji, who killed many of the teachers and students and burned and sacked the university.

The site of the university was hidden for centuries under a large hill, only to be rediscovered in 1860. Excavation began in 1916 and took twenty years to complete. The site includes the ruins of temples, stupas, and eleven monasteries. Entry is Rs 5 to the site, which is open from 9 am to 5.30 pm. The Archaeological Survey’s book on Nalanda gives a detailed description of this site.

In the Nalanda Archaeological Museum (10 am to 5 pm) there is a good collection of Buddhist and Hindu stone sculptures, terra-cottas, coins, and bronze. Many of the items date from the Gupta and Pala (8th to 10th centuries) periods.

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