Nalanda, World’s oldest university and an ancient town

Nalanda, one of the most ancient seats of learning or university in the world, was founded in the 5th century AD. It is situated in the state of Bihar, north India and is 55 miles to the south east of the capital city, Patna.

Nalanda has got many things for everyone. Ancient structures, sculptured towns, beautiful ponds and the remains of a great university spread across 14 hectares. Nalanda means “the giver of knowledge” and is the world's oldest and ancient university.

Temples and monasteries of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism are classical architectural masterpieces reflecting the values and the history of how these religions came to existence. The culture of ancient times, redbrick remains of ancient buildings, vast structures and recent developments are all a part of Nalanda.

Nalanda, with beautiful gardens, hosts an archeological museum too. Terracotta jars of 1st century, copper plates, stone inscripts, coins, pottery and samples of burnt rice from 12th century AD are some mesmerizing collections.

The dominating image of Buddha, sculptures of Goddess Tara and other sculptures make it worth visiting. Unpolluted Nalanda offers a mixture of green and red to welcome the tourists as there are no polluting means of transport like taxis and auto rickshaws. Cycle and hand pulled rickshaws give a memorable ride.

Though Nalanda can be visited anytime of the year, the special season to visit Nalanda and nearby places is between October and March. It’s enjoyable to go around during the famous Sun worship festival Chhat Puja celebrated twice a year viz. between April and May, and again between October and November. During these seasons, visiting the lake and the temple at Surajpur Baragaon would be an even more exotic experience.

Rajgir is situated 15 kms from Nalanda, another beautiful location to be visited at least once in a lifetime. Here, hot springs in the hill town surrounded by lush green forests give an awesome experience. Rajgir is not only known for “Khaja”, a famous sweet made and sold in Silao (located near Rajgir), but also famous for its dance festival conducted from 24th to 26th of October every year.

Pawapuri, the Sinless City is 25 kms from Nalanda and is most famous for Jains. There are two beautiful temples made of white marble that will capture a place in one's heart for ever.

Gaya is located 95 kms from Nalanda. It’s a sacred pilgrim centre for Hindus and Falgu river is your beautiful host here.

Another holy location to visit in Nalanda is Bodhgaya, 110 kms from Nalanda. It is the holiest place for Buddhists, where Lord Buddha got his supreme enlightenment. In Bodhgaya, the Bodhi tree is the centre-piece. It was this tree under which Lord Buddha was spiritually enlightened. Another memorable architecture to enjoy is the pillar built by the emperor Ashoka. Other highlights like the modern monasteries of Japan, Thailand, China and Bhutan are also places to visit and learn.

To reach Nalanda by air, Patna is the nearest airport. It is 89 kms from Nalanda. From New Delhi, flights and trains are available to Patna. Rajgir railway station is also only 12 kms from Nalanda and from there local transport can be hired to reach Nalanda.