Destroyed almost completely in the 12th century AD by invaders,
this ancient university never regained its past glory. The ruins of Nalanda bear witness to the sad and dramatic fate of this once famous center of learning. Before meeting its fate, Nalanda continued to be one of the major universities of the world for over 9 centuries. Some scholars date this university to an even earlier date. Today, the ruins are among the major destinations that make up tourism in Bihar. The tourist attractions in Nalanda include the ruins of the university, a museum, a research center and some nearby sites that are equally interesting. Some of the main tourist attractions in Nalanda are being discussed below.
The ruins of Nalanda are spread over 14 hectares of land. This is supposedly only a fraction of the immense area that is believed to have supported 10000 students and 2000 teachers, apart from a large number of support staff. Among the ruins can be seen many Buddhist structures including stupas, chaityas, temples and monasteries. The dormitories of the students indicate the residential status of the university.
Stupa of Sariputta:
This is one of the most noticeable structures among the ruins. Sariputta was one of the most prominent disciples of Buddha and became a celebrated Arhat, believed to have attained salvation. He was born in Nalanda and died here as well, according to beliefs. The stupa of Sariputta is an impressive structure. It has a pyramidal shape and towers above the entire complex. This place seems to have been surrounded by pillared structures which must have been a grand sight during the heydays of Nalanda.
Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall:
This hall is believed to have been erected in memory of the famous Chinese scholar who reportedly stayed here for 12 years as part of his tour of India in the 7th century AD. Whatever the purpose of this hall was, it is a reminder of the grandeur of the Nalanda University.
This temple is dedicated to the Sun God, greatly revered since the Vedic ages in India. It is an important and interesting spot in Nalanda, and is considered among the major Nalanda tourist attractions. A five feet high statue of Goddess Parvati is the chief attraction of the temple, in addition to some beautiful statues of Buddhist and Hindu deities.
This was established in 1971 with the chief aim of preserving the heritage of this spot and educating the visitors about the history of Nalanda. The museum is one of the chief tourist attractions in Nalanda and exhibits a large number of artifacts that include manuscripts, seals, and statues. This place should not be left out during tours to Nalanda.
Nav Nalanda Vihar:
This institution was set up in 1951 by the Bihar government. The aim was to bring back the status of Nalanda as a seat of education. The institute teaches the Pali language and other aspects of Buddhism to Indian and foreign students. It is also an interesting place to visit for the tourists.
Touristplacesinindia.com offers all inclusive online information about the tourist attractions in Nalanda in Bihar, and other important tourist places in India.