Tourism @ Kerala
Ruins of Nalanda University - Travelogue by Rogen Joseph
Affter visiting Bodh Gaya in Bihar i backs Patna from where i catch a Passanger train to Nalanda. I arrived Nalanda very early morning and walks out of station when sunrise arrive. Shared jeeps and Buses plying the route between Rajgir and Bihar Sharif make a stop at the turn off for Nalanda. From here rest 2 km to Nalanda University is by Tonga. I give 10 Rs to Tonga riding person. I reach entrance gate of Nalanda and wait for few hours till ticket counter opens. During waiting hours, I had my breakfast in one of the shops in the row.
Now i'm standing inside ruins of ancient Nalanda University. The site is located about 95 kilometres southeast of Patna near the town of Bihar Sharif, 35 km away.
Nalanda was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern Bihar). Nalanda was a centre of learning from the seventh century BC to c. 1200 CE. Founded and patronized by the Gupta kings during 5th and 6th centuries AD, the Mahavihara or the university was later thrived by the contributions of Harshavardhana- the King of Kannauj. Nalanda was very likely ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Muslim Mamluk Dynasty under Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1200 CE. Nalanda was unknown until Archaeological Survey of India excavated this site in 19th centuary. Nalanda is now a notable tourist destination and a part of the Buddhist tourism circuit.
At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. The Buddhist university had two thousand teachers and ten thousand students from all over the Buddhist world it seems. The subjects taught were Buddhist scriptures, Vedas, logic, grammar and medicine. Lord Buddha visited Nalanda several times.
Nalanda university was built in Kushan style with well baked red bricks. Systematic excavations by the Archaeological Survey of India commenced in 1915 which unearthed eleven monasteries and six brick temples neatly arranged on grounds of 12 hectares in area. Now a days, Nalanda is a popular tourist destination attracting a number of foriegn visitors. Nalanda Multimedia Museum located near by showcases the history of Nalanda through 3-D animation. Nalanda Archaeological Museum and Xuanzang Memorial Hall are nearby tourist attractions in Nalanda.
On the way back from Nalanda ruins i also saw a Black Buddha statue sheltered in a small temple. Locally known as Tili Buddha. The statue of Buddha in black stone in Bhumisparsha mudra is found during excavation.
Affter completing my Nalanda visit i catch a bus to Bihar Sharif. From Bihar Sharif bus station i got a direct bus to Patna. Bus takes more than three hours to reach Patna from Bihar Sharif. Around 9 pm, I checked in to my hotel room in Patna, capital city of Bihar.