Remnants of a glorious past
India is an abode of underrated tourist hubs, each of them offering unique experiences, having exquisite cultural backgrounds, with profound history attached. Some have a marvellous architecture which was light years ahead of their times and some, sadly, almost forgotten. Such a gem is Nalanda, a beautiful integration of history, culture, knowledge, architecture and spirituality! Nalanda located in Bihar is around 100kms from the state capital, Patna and can be easily reached by roads with nearest Railway station being in Rajgir. Nalanda has been one of the most favourite weekend getaway for people of Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha for a long time now, resulting in its diverse culture.
The city of Nalanda dates back to 5th century where it was the centre of academic excellence till 12th ce. It has carried the essence and calmness of Buddhism in it all this while, giving the travellers a sneak-peek into its glorious past. The city is mostly about the ruins of Nalanda University which takes an entire day to be explored properly, but if there for a weekend, it has a lot more to offer. What can surprise a visitor the most that how beautiful a mix Nalanda is of culture, history, education and spirituality, and how effortlessly it balances all traits of its uniqueness with none overshadowing the other. In terms of the lifestyle it provided its students, it still today has no match and it is evident when having seen its rooms designed for the students. They were spacious, airy and very comfortable. What is also amazing to see is the size of the granaries it had, truly defining its grandeur.
Nalanda derives its name from the flower "LOTUS" which is the symbol for knowledge. It was the centre of Buddhism and its teachings and reachings reached the rest of the world, as its students were not just Indians but of diversified ethnicities, specially South-Asians. Coming to education, it was definitely the best during its time and did really well along with Vikramshila and Taxila.
NALANDA THROUGH HISTORY
It was during the Gupta empire that Nalanda flourished to its best. To achieve greater heights of success, educators from Taxila were called to share their experiences and nurture the students. Many kings of the Gupta dynasty contributed to its growth and kept adding things to facilitate the environment. They considered it a great way to showcase their power and also to maintain the notion in public of being an admirer of knowledge and promoting education.
Nalanda produced many scholars who went on to occupy great positions in various kingdoms. Some even considered it a threat and started to think about putting education at Nalanda to an end. Whereas on the other hand, some rulers unaware of it's academic intentions, considered it to be a fortress and thought of the ing whosoever built it to be of immense power to have constructed such piece of great architecture. One of them was Bakhtiyar Khilji whose army invaded Nalanda and put it on fire. It marked its destruction.
For years, Nalanda remained hidden beneath layers of land until 1971 when it was found in an excavation. Since then it has been a jewel in India's history declaring India's dominance in education.
Top things do in Nalanda
How to reach
The easiest way to visit Nalanda is to reach Patna, the capital city of Bihar by any suitable means as Patna is well connected to almost all the major cities through flights, trains as well as roads. Then from Patna a taxi can be taken to reach Nalanda which is approximately 100 kms and takes nearly 1.5 hours.
How to Reach by Flight
Jay Prakash Narayan airport, Patna is the nearest airport being 92 kms away. Patna airport is connected to airports of all metro cities in India, apart from that it is connected to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Raipur, Ranchi, Allahabad, Bhubaneshwar and Guwahati. Further, a taxi can be taken from the airport itself to Nalanda.
How to Reach by Train
Patna Railway station around 90 kms away, is connected to almost all the states and covers many major cities. A bus/taxi can be taken from Patna. The nearest Railway station is in Rajgir, which is 12 kms far and is connected to Delhi, Gaya and Patna. A taxi/auto rickshaw can be taken to reach Nalanda.
How to Reach by Bus
The easiest way to reach by Bus is to take a bus from Patna. Else it is also connected by bus to major cities of Bihar like Gaya and some cities of Jharkhand like Ranchi.
How to Reach by Road
It is well connected with roads so that it can be reached by people from any part of the country.
How to travel within
Apart from the ruins of Nalanda University, there are a few other things which can be paid a visit. Most of these places are in the range of 1-2 kms, and can be covered while walking, otherwise, the best way to travel around is to get autorickshaws which are quite cheap, if bargained well!
While some tourists choose to take a leave from this stupendous city after visiting Pawapuriand Kundalpur, some return back to their hotels to indulge a bit more in Nalanda's culture and culinary art. Owing to its more or less religious and spiritual aura, the city's food is quite simple and plain yet delicious, for example, the famous Bihari litti-chokha, sattu ka paratha, and baingan ka bharta.
Overall, Nalanda not only never fails to surprise its visitors with its intelligent architecture, but it also inspires to seek knowledge and live to make our lives count in the right way, serving its purpose of enlightenment till date, after years of negligence and ignorance. But one thing is for sure, every traveller bids Nalanda goodbye feeling a bit more proud Indian every single time!
- Reach Nalanda University
- Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall
- The Great Stupa (preferably in evening)
- Nalanda Archaeological Museum
- Nav Nalanda Mahavihara
- Surya Mandir