Nalanda was the world’s oldest university. It was founded in 5th century AD and was not only a popular Buddhist centre but a great knowledge source to the people from all over the world. Around 10,000 monks and students used to study here when it was in its peak. They studied wide range of subjects from theology, astronomy, science, medicines to philosophy and religion. When the Afghans attacked here in the twelfth century and burnt the three libraries that were here it took them six months to do that. It tells how extensive and big those libraries were.
If you visit Nalanda today you will find the university ruins and a calm atmosphere. There is well maintained garden which contains flowers and shrubs. The tourist department will offer you a number of options to explore the place. There are tourist guide services available too which do not cost much. Also there are tourist booklets that will help you to learn a lot about the historical context of the place. In the ruins you will find the Great Stupa which still appears impressive with wonderful steps and terraces in it. There are also monk chambers inside. There is a nice archaeological museum nearby which remains open on all days of the week except Fridays and the ticket costs as little as Rs 2. This is a small but an intriguing museum where you will find the various sculptures and other texts preserved from Nalanda university. There is also a huge Xuan Zang Memorial Hall near the ruins which was built by Chinese to pay a tribute to the famous traveler who also taught in this university during his visits. There is a statue of Xuan Zang in the front that appears majestic. There is also a museum completely dedicated to this traveler. If you want to travel to this popular site you can easily go from Rajgir via auto rickshaws or jeeps. The place is one of the must see places not just in Bihar but in India because of its huge significance in shaping today’s India. It tells a lot about the advanced education system in ancient India and how spirituality was taught in accordance with science at that time. It is definitely a proud thing not just for the Indians but people from all over the world to see such an advanced education system from the pages of history.