District - Nalanda
Circuit – Buddhist and Archaeological and General
About / Importance – It is the ruins of one of the oldest residential international university which thrived from around 5th or 6th century CE till 13th century. The current excavated site spreads across around 14 acres of land. However, if the description of Zuanzang, the 7th century Chinese traveller is to be correlated the excavated part is only about 10% of the actual area on which the original institute was spread over.
This learning pilgrimage was patronised by the kings of Gupta and Pala dynasties and during the rule of the King Harshavardhana (7th CE) it reached the zenith. The account of theChinese pilgrim Zuanzang, who lived and learned here at that time, gives a picturesque description of this place as "An azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus; the dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade."
View & Feel -Presently, the restoration of the ruins of Nalanda ensures a good security system for the monument and a well maintained garden area around the space. The huge remaining section of the main stupa that was charred and destroyed by the Turk invader Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193, still stands tall to tell the tale of the height of knowledge for which once this region was famous worldwide. A walk through the red brick structures of other votive stupas, temples, dormitories for students and teachers where about 10,000 students and 2000 teachers lived and learned is truly a stimulating experience.