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Nalanda Sightseeing

 Nalanda UniversityThe Nalanda University : The University was established in 5th century B.C. The ruins of the university are spread over 14 hectares of land. All the buildings are made with red bricks built in Kushana style of architecture. Excavations have revealed a symmetrical row of monasteries on the east that faces a parallel row of temples on the west with wide space in-between.

India Buddhism BookingThe most imposing structure is the Sariputra stupa in the temple site 3, at the extreme south of the University. What we see here is the outcome of seven layers of successive construction that shields the original stupa which appears to be small and buried deep with in. The surrounding stupas and two towers are decorated with the niches which depict the Buddha, Buddhisattvas and the other events of Buddha’s life. To get the better perspective of the University there is stairway leading to the top.

On the east of the University there are two monasteries (site 1A and 1B) facing Sariputra stupa. The main gates are on the north and it leads to the wide varandah, the roof of which rested on the pillar. In all the four directions there are cells for monks. In the site 1B there is an octagonal well on the side of the courtyard and well-planned drains for sewage disposal. On the north side there are other 9 monasteries of the same layout and design except for the entrances facing south.

India Buddhism BookingEach monastery was provided one shrine which contained the colossal image of Buddha. The monasteries were well worked out with thick plasterwork within which there were monastic cell, a safe, a well, and drains. The monasteries clearly reveal the different layers of constructions and thereby indicating various periods of occupation. Monastery Site 1 suggests no less than nine different levels while other monasteries show two or three layers of construction.

In 1951 an international center for Buddhists studies was established here.

The Nalanda Museum : This museum houses the treasure antiquities found during the excavations in Nalanda and Rajgir. The museum offers a veritable peep in to the Pala art. Which explains the University was equally famous for its prolific school of stone sculptures, bronze casting and manuscript paintings. Besides the artistic skills, the sculptures also explicate the jewelry, clothes and lifestyle of that period.

The most dominating image in the museum is of Buddha, which was made in the first century. The Pala school of Nalanda depicts him in all available postures. However, the first bronze image depicts him in an Abhay Mudra which is noted for its simplicity and convincing modeling.

India Buddhism BookingNext to Buddha, most of the sculptures give account of Tara (the goddess of compassion and consort of Avalokitesvara) clad in a sari that reaches her ankle while her head is decorated with a crown and the wrist is replete with bangles. Other female deities depicted at Nalanda are three faced Marichi, Prajnaparamita, Hariti, Sarvvani, Aparajita, Vasudhara, Mahasarasvati, etc. The representations of Bodhisattvas include Padmapani, Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Vajrapani, Manjuvara, etc.

Other Brahmanical images found in Nalanda are of Shiva and Parvati assembled in one sculpture as seated in Lalitasana, Vishnu, Surya and his son Revanta, Ganesha, Sarasvati, Chandika and Ganga. They seem to suggest the need of an appeal to the masses of the people to attract the votaries of Hinduism by introducing some element of their religion. However, one wonders at some of the rare and unexplained statues like those of Tralokyavijaya trampling upon Siva and Parvati lying prostrate. In another statue Ganesha is seen subdued by Aparajita.

Besides copper, stone and brick inscriptions, the museum has numerous coins, seals and plaques on display which includes the official seal of the Sangharama.

The Nalanda Archeological Museum stays closed on Friday.

India Buddhism BookingHiuen Tsang memorial hall : Hiuen Tsang was a Chinese traveler who came to India in 5th century. He got attracted towards the glory of Nalanda University and stayed there for 12 years and taught the students of the university. He has given a very detailed and vivid description of the Indian political and social conditions at that time. His writing were considered as the most authentic and credible source of information of that period. This memorial has been made in his memory.

Nav Nalanda Mahavihara : Nav Nalanda Mahavihara was established in 1951 by Indian government to promote Pali literature and the studies of Buddhism. Apart from India Students from other countries also come here for studying.

India Buddhism BookingLauria Nandangarh : Lauria Areraj is an 11.5-meter high Ashokan column, erected in 245 B.C. The polished sandstone pillar has edicts on it. King Ashoka erected a Lion pillar, which has become a famous site now. The 8.5 meter high sandstone pillar also has edict engraved on it. It is also believed that Nandangarh stupa houses the ashes of Lord Buddha.