Nalanda, Bihar – An ancient and renowned center of higher learning


An ancient and renowned center of higher learning in Bihar, Nalanda is located about 88 kilometres south east of Patna. It was a religious centre of learning from the fifth century AD to 1197 AD. Nalanda flourished between the reign of the Śakrāditya (whose identity is uncertain and who might have been either Kumara Gupta I or Kumara Gupta II). In 1197 AD, it was supported by patronage from the Hindu Gupta rulers as well as Buddhist emperors like Harsha and later emperors from the Pala Empire.

The whole complex was built with red bricks and the dilapidated complex occupies an area of 14 hectares. (488 by 244 metres). The university attracted scholars and students from as far away as Tibet, China, Greece, and Persia. Nalanda was plundered and destroyed by a Turkish Muslim army under Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193.

Places to see at Nalanda:

Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex: The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of the red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walk way that goes south to north. The monasteries or “Viharas” are east of this central alley and the temple or “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 studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in Various poses or “Mudras”.

Nalanda Archaeological Museum: Opposite the entrance to the ruins of the university and houses, there is 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 terra-cotta 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 Mahavihara: Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and research of Pali Literature and Buddhism. This is a new institute, where students from foreign countries also study.

Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall: A new construction in memory of the great Chinese traveler, Hieun Tsang.

Things to do at Nalanda: Though in ruins Nalanda still stands as a glorious emblem of the Buddhist period reminding us of the rich cultural heritage. Explore this esteemed destination. It gives a feeling of reverence.

The shop aholics can buy Local Arts & Craft, Stone Sculptures and Madhubani Paintings from here. These things are priceless and worth keeping at the showcases at your house.

Nearby Attractions from Nalanda: You can visit Rajgir(15km), Pawapuri(25km), Gaya(95 km) and Bodhgaya(110 km) from Nalanda, Patna(95 km).


The ancient capital of Magadhan empire which flourished in the 6th century BC. Its association with Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira hallows the place. The first Buddhist council immediately after the Mahaparinirarvana of Lord Buddha , to pen down his teachings , was also held at Rajgir. There are a number of Hot Springs. The hill town of Rajgir, surrounded by seven hills is in the midst of lush green forest.


It is a very sacred pilgrim centre for the Hindus. Oblations are offered for salvation of their dead parents and forefathers. The temple of Vishnupad on the bank of river Falgu, attracts a very large number of pilgrims from all over the world.


 It is the holiest amongst holy places of Buddhist World., where Prince Sidharaha attained the supreme enlightenment and became the Buddha , the enlightened one. The Buddhism was born here. The present Bodhi Tree is fifth in succession of the original tree under which Lord Buddha had attained the enlightenment. The ancient Mahabodhi Temple, the railings and the Ashokan pillar are of great historical as well as architectural importance. The modern monasteries of Japan, Thailand, China, Tibet, Mayanmar, Bhutan and Sri Lanka built in their national architectures are very colorful and remain humming with religious activities.


A sinless city it is a great pilgrimage centre of the Jains. Lord Mahavira, the greatest propounder of Jainism had delivered his last sermon took Mahaparinirvana and was cremated here. Jalmandir and Samosharan are two beautiful temples here of exquisite architecture built in white marble.


The ancient city of Patliputra, where the capital of Magadhan empire shifted from Rajgir, is situated on the main line of eastern railway and is well connected with air services. The ruins of the ancient Patliputra have been excavated at Kumrahar, Patna saheb is also famous for being birth place of the tenth and last Guru of the Sikh, Guru Govind Singh. Harmandirji consecrates his birth place. The museum, Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Martyr’s Memorial, Golghar and Khuda Baksh Oriental Library are other places of tourist interest at Patna.

Best time to visit Nalanda: You can visit Nalanda anytime of the year but the summer months of May and June are a bit scorching. Winters and monsoons are great for visiting Nalanda.


How to go ?

Nalanda can be reached by rail, road and air also.

Air: The nearest airport is at Patna89 km. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Calcutta, Ranchi, Bombay, Delhi and Lucknow.

Rail: Though Rajgir (12 km) is the nearest railway station to Nalanda yet the nearest convenient rail head is at Gaya95 km.

Road: Nalanda is connected by good road with Rajgir 12 km, Bodh Gaya 110 km, Gaya 95 km, Patna90 km, Pawapuri 26 km, Bihar Sharif 13 km etc.

Where to stay ?

The tourists prefer to stay at Rajgir (15 km. from Nalanda). There are also state tourism department guest houses at Nalanda namely

Tathagat ViharAjatshatru Vihar, Gautam Vihar: 06112-255273

There are also some private hotels at Nalanda. One option is:

The Siddharta Hotel: +91-9431069053, +91-9199017971.

Note : Phone numbers given above are according to the information available with us. If you find any contact number/s given above is/are incorrect or not in use, please let us know.