Nalanda, the world’s first residential international university’s ruin still mesmerizes the visitors. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang came and stayed here for five years to learn Buddhism. His narration gives a vivid description of the glorios learning centre. Nalanda means ‘giver of knowledge’. Nalanda is about 90 km southeast of Patna. Lord Buddha stayed at Nalanda several times.Lord Mahavir is also believed to have attained ‘moksha’ at Pawapuri, which is located in Nalanda.
Ruins of Nalanda University
The University of Nalanda was established in 450 AD under the patronage of the Gupta emperors, notably Kumargupta. It was one of the world’s first residential universities. Its dormitories accommodated over 10000 students and 2000 teachers. The subjects taught at the university covered every field of learning and it attracted pupils and scholars from as far as Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Turkey and other countries.
Nav Nalanda Mahavihar
Hieun-Tsang Memorial Hall
Chinese traveller and scholar monk, Xuanzang, who was a student at Nalanda and subsequently became a teacher at the ancient Nalanda Mahavihara. It is 1.3 km away from the ruins of Nalanada. The relics of Xuanzang have been preserved in the Patna museum.
India’s first multimedia museum was opened here on January 26, 2008. It has a section that recreates the history of Nalanda using a 3D animation film with narration by TV and movie actor. There are four more sections in the Multimedia Museum: Geographical Perspective, Historical Perspective, Hall of Nalanda and Revival of Nalanda.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) Museum
This archaeological museum set up in 1917, houses the antiquities, mainly those excavated from the earliest university cum monastery complex at Nalanda and From Rajgir. Out of 13463 antiquities, 349 are on display in the four gallaries of the museum. There are 57 idols and sculptures displayed in the first gallery.
Opening hour- 10 am to 5 pm. (Friday closed)
Entrance fee- Rs 2 per head, free entry for children up to 15 years.
Lord Mahavir attained ‘nirvana’ (salvation from the endless of life and death) at Pawapuri and thus the place is a holy site for jains. It is located 38 km from Rajgir in Nalanda district and 90 km from Patna. There was a great rush to collect his ashes and as a result so much soil was removed from the place of his cremation that a pond was created. Now an exquisite marble temple, Jalmandir stands magnificently on a rectangular island in the middle of the pond.
Just 1.6 kmfrom the ruins of Nalanda is this place called kundalpur. The Digambar sect of jains believes that the 24th and the last Tirthankar, Lord Mahavir, was born here.
Rajgir (Nalanda District) STD: 06112
The ancient city Rajgir exited even before the Buddha’s time and was the capital of the great empire of Magadh . The city was fortified stone wall that is till existing partly. The natural fortification by five hills and some of the caves believed to be Buddha’s favourite abode for meditation. Rajgir is situated in Nalanda district. It was the favourite place of Lord Buddha and became an important centre of Buddhism during the reign of King Bimbisara (543-491 BC) and Ajatashatru (491-459 BC). Lord Buddha’s favourite places in Rajgir were Griddhakuta Hill and Venu Vana. These two sites are mandatory on the itinerary of the Baudh tourist pilgrims from abroad.
Buddhist scholar Buddhaghosha has mentioned that the city had 32 main gates and 64 minor gates. Its popularity declined once the city of pataliputra was made the new capital of Magadh. Rjgir is sacred to the Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Muslims. Lord Mahavir spent 14 rainy seasons in Rajgir and Nalanda between 527 -497 BC.
Griddh Koot hills
Griddhakuta or the Vultures peak was the favourite retreat of Lord Buddha. The peak got its name either because it has a vulture-like shape or it was frequented by vultures. Buddha lived in a cave there for several years and preached the famous Saddharmapundarika sutra from the platform built by King Bimbisara on Griddhakuta.
Venu Vana means bamboo park. It was the garden house of king Bimbisara which he decided to Buddha after building a monastery here. There’s a pond called Kalandakanivapa, the meaning of which is the feeling ground of squirrels or jays.
Now new Venu Vana Vihara was Built by Japanese saint Fuji Guruji as a mark of tribute to the first Buddhist monastery of the world, built by King Bimbisara. It is on the western side of the ancient Venu Vana.
Vishwa Shanti Stupa
It is a monument to the birth of a nation, the republic of India India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had in 1956, during the 2500th Buddha Nirvana year, called Buddhists from all over the world. Here a big stupa was built by a Japanese saint Fuji Guruji. The stupa can be reached by a 2200 ft long ropeway.
Rajgir is dotted with hot springs, which were earlier spread all over. But now few are flowing The most visited hot spring is in the eastern slope of Vaibhava hill. It is said, in which Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavir took bath.
Brahma Kunda is the hottest spring with its water temperature being 45 degree C. Separate bathing places for men and women have been constructed.
Note: Bathing in hot water is good for health, particularly for those who are having joint pains. Entry is free. Washing clothes here is not allowed.
Amar Van (Jeevak Amravan Vihar)
Jivak, the royal physician during the times of Ajatshatru and Bimbisara, used to practise here. It is said once Lord Buddha was also brought here for treatment of a wound.
Treasure of Bimbisara
These are twin rock-cut caves, supposed to be the doorway to the treasury of king Bimbisara. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact.
It is situated on the Vaibhava hill. The First Buddhist Council was held here six months after the ‘Mahaparinirvana’ of Buddha. It was attended by 500 monks and headed by Buddha’s chief disciple Maha Kashyapa.
Ashoka Stupa peak
There exit the remains of a brick stupa on a hill, which many Buddhists believe was built by King Ashoka as a mark of honour to Griddhakuta.
Chariot Wheel Mark and Sheel Characters
Fort Of Ajatshatru & Bimbisara’s Prison
Ranbhoomi or Jarasandh’s Akhara
Jivaka Ambavana or Jivakarama Vihara
Ghora Katora Lake
Yesthivana or Jethiana
Weavers of Basawanbigaha
A unique textile tradition is being practised by the weavers of Basawanbigaha in Biharasariff. Weavers here produced hand-woven curtains, bed covers, tablecloths etcs with colourful Buddhist and Mauryan patters and themes on them.(Kapil Dev-Basawanbigaha Primary Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd.)
How To Reach
Loknayak Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport, Patna, 100 km away.The road Between Patna and Rajgir-Nalanda-Pawapuri is an excellent condition. Private and state transport buses ply between Patna Biharshariff, the district head quarter Town of Nalanda. Tempos or Horse-driven carts can be hired from Biharshariff for Rajgir. Alternatively, one can hire a taxi from Patna to Rajgir-Nalanda-Pawapuri.There is also a direct train between Delhi and Nalanda, called Shramjeevi Express (2391 UP/2392 DOWN), it runs via Patna.
Where To Stay
- Indo-Hokke Hotel (3 star), Phone- 255231, Fax-255245
- Rajgir Regidency (2 star), Phone-255404, Fax-255405
- Hotel Tathagat Vihar, Phone-255176, Fax-255176
- Hotel Siddhartha, Phone-255216,Fax-255352
Important Telephone Number
- Nalanda dist. Magistrate- 235203, 235204, Fax-235205
- Nalanda Suprintendent of Police- 235207, Fax-233978
- Rajgir Dy. Suprintendent of Police-255461
- Rajgir Police Station-255258
- Ragir Hospital-255102
Best Time To Visit
From October to February. From mid- December to the end of January, temperature here ranges from 5 degree C to 15 degree C.