Location: Nalanda is situated 90 Km from Patna, Bihar.
Tourist Attractions: The Nalanda University Archaeological Complex, The Nalanda Archaeological Museum, Nava Nalanda
Mahavihara, Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall, Silao, Surajpur Baragaon.
Best Buys: Buy the famous local sweet 'Khaja', from Silao, a village between Nalanda and Rajgir.
Festivals: The Chhath Puja is celebrated 6 days after Diwali, in mid November. Buddha Jayanti, celebrated in April, to mark the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of lord Budha.
Nearest Tourist Destinations: Vaishali, Patna, Bodhgaya, Rajgir.
When to Visit: The best time to visit this place is October to March.
Nalanda, a part of the Budhist circuit, is famous for the the ancient International Monastic University. Established in 5th century BC by the Gupta Emperors, it was a famous learning centres in ancient times. The university had centres for studies in Buddhism, Vedas, Logic, Grammar, Medicine, Meta-Physics, Prose Composition and Rhetoric. Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira have also taught here. The university library had a mammoth collection of 9 million volumes. The university remains are scattered around an area of 14 hectares. Though a large part of the university has been explored, a huge portion remains unexcavated. It is believed that the university could accommodate 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers easily. Hsuan Tsang, the renowned Chinese traveler was also involved with the university foe 12 years. There is a monument built here in his memory. In 12th century AD, the whole university complex was destroyed by Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkish Invader. There is a museum where the rare collections of the glorious days can be seen. In 1951 an international center for Buddhist studies was founded. Another modern institution is the Nava Nalanda Mahavir Research Centre treasuring many rare manuscripts.
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Tourist Attractions in Nalanda:
The Nalanda University archeological complex
The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes south to north, the monasteries or Viharas are east of this central alley and the temples of Chaiyas to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around a central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha. The enormous pyramidal mass of the temple No 3 is impressive and from its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas many of which are studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in various poses or Mudras.
Nalanda archeological museum
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 found among the ruins here.
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and research in Pali literature and Buddhism. This is a new institute where students from foreign countries also study.
Xuan Zang Memorial Hall
The Xuan Zang Memorial Hall was built by Chinese as a peace pagoda. There is also an international centre for the study of Buddhism e stablished in 1951.
The lake with its temple to Surya, the God Sun is a pilgrim destination twice a year in Vaishakha (April-May) and in Kartika (October –November) during the Chhath Puja or Sun Worship.
In between Nalanda and Rajgir there is a village namely Silao where a very popular local sweet Khaja is prepared
Air: The nearest airport from Nalanda is the Patna airport, 90 km away.
Rail: The nearest major railway stations is Gaya around 65 km from Nalanda. Gaya is well connected to other parts of India.
Road: Nalanda is connected through a good road network with Rajgir (12 km), Gaya (65 km), and Patna (90 km).
Nalanda, being a small town, does not offer very good accommodations for tourists. There are some monasteries built by Buddhist countries and government guest house where tourists can stay. But a better option would be to stay in Gaya or Patna, which are not too far from Nalanda.