Nalanda has a very ancient history. Lord Vardhamana Mahavira and Lord Buddha had frequently visited it
in the 6th century BC. It is also supposed to be the birth place of Sariputra, one of the chief
disciples of Lord Buddha.
Hieun Tsang, the Chinese traveller of the seventh century, say, that according to tradition the place
owned its name to a Naga saint of the same name who resided in a tank here. But he thinks it more
porbable that lord Buddha, in one of his previous births as Bodhistawa, became a king with his capital
at this place and that his liberality won for him and his capital the name Nalanda or "Charity without
intermission". The Third theory about the name of the place is that it derived its name from 'Nalam'
plus 'DO'. Nalam mean lotus which is a symbol of knowledge and 'DO' mean give. The place had many ponds
full of lotuses. The place subsequently came to be called Nalando and later on Nalanda.
PLACES OF INTEREST
*THE NALANDA UNIVERSITY: The University of Nalanda was founded in the 5th century BC by
the Gupta emperors and recorded as the world's earliest university. The total area of excavation is 14
hectares . All the edifices are of brick and the garden beautiful. The building are divided by a central
walkway that goes south to north, the monasteries or 'Viharas' are to the east of this central alley and
the temples of 'Chaiyas' to the west. The Vihara 1 is perhaps the most interesting one with its cells on
two steps lead upto what must have been a dais for the gurus, the teacher, to address the student. A
small chapel still retains a half- broken statue of Lord Buddha.
The enormous pyramidal mass of the temple No.3 is impressive and from its top one commands a splendid
view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas, many of which are studded with small and
big statue of Lord Buddha in various poses.
*THE NALANDA ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM:
Just opposite to the entrance to the ruins of the university, it has a small but beautiful collection of
undamaged statue of Lord Buddha that were found during excavation 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 sample of burnt rice( 12th century AD).
HOW TO REACH
AIR: Nearest Airport Patna (93 Kms) and Gaya International Airport 90 kms.
RAIL: Nearest railhead Patna Station (100 kms) and Gaya Railway Station 80 kms.
ROAD: Connected by road Delhi, Kolkata, Patna and Gaya.