Nalanda, an ancient centre for higher learning, is located around 55 miles south east of Patna in the state of Bihar. Nalanda is considered as one of the oldest and great universities in the world. It was established in the 5th century, and the university flourished under many rulers since that era. The destination is visited mostly for seeing its Buddhist sites and monuments.
The history of Nalanda dates back to the time of Lord Buddha and Mahavir. The place was named after the terms Nalam meaning Lotus and da that means to give. Nalanda is also known as the birth place of a follower of Lord Buddha, named Sariputra. Lord Buddha is believed to have visited this place several times during his lifetime.
There are many important sites in Nalanda that attract many historians, pilgrims and architects from all over the world. The head quarter of knowledge and learning, Nalanda is renowned for a culture and tradition in ancient India.
The ruins of Nalanda, which was once the great Nalanda University, are spread over an area of 14 hectares. The university used to house 10000 students and 2000 teachers and had dormitories for students according to their status. Somewhere among the ruins, there are also structures like stupas, monasteries, temples, chaityas, etc.
The ruins contain monuments and heritages like Stupa of Sariputta, Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall, Surya Temple, Nalanda museum and Nav Nalanda Vihar. The Stupa of Sariputta is built in the shape of a pyramid, and is a structure that towers over the entire complex.
The Surya Temple (the temple of god) is a major attraction of this Nalanda site. It houses statue of Goddess Parvati, which is about five feet tall, including some other statues of Lord Buddha and Hindu deities.
The nearest airport to Nalanda is Lok Nayak Jayaprakash airport located in Patna, which is at a distance of 100 kilometres from the city. The airport is connected to all the important cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.
Rajgir is the nearest railhead to the place, which is about 12 kilometres away from Nalanda. The station is connected to the several cities of India. The best time to visit Nalanda is between October to March, when the climate of the city stays mild and dry.