Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall, the Nalanda University
Complex, Swarajpur Baragon. The Nalanda Museum
(Opens 1000 to 1700 hours. Closed on Friday.), Lauria Areraj,
Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous centre of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th - 12th centuries. The Chinese scholar and traveller Hiuen Tsang stayed here in the 7th century, and has left an elaborate description of the excellence, and purity of monastic life practised here. About 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world, lived and studied in this international university.
The Gupta kings patronised these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Kings Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most famous patrons, who built impressive temples and monasteries. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures. An international centre for Buddhist Studies was established in 1951.
The Nalanda Museum and the Nava
Nalanda Mahavihar are definitely worth a visit.
is a 11.5 m high Ashokan column, erected in 249 BC. The polished sandstone pillar has six edicts on it. Lauria Nandangarh is the site of the famous lion pillar, erected by king Ashoka. The 8.5 m polished sandstone column also has an edict engraved on it. The Nandangarh stupa, nearby, is believed to house the ashes of the Buddha.
Treasures of Nalanda
The Nalanda University Archaeological Complex:
The total area of the excavation is about 14 hectares. All the edifices are of red brick and the gardens are beautiful. The buildings are divided by a central walkway that goes south to north, the monasteries or
are east of this central alley and the temples of "Chaiyas" to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around a central courtyard where steps lead up to what must have been a dais for the professors to address their students. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of the Lord Buddha.
The enormous pyramidal mass of the Temple No.3 is impressive and from its top commands a splendid view of the entire area. It is surrounded by smaller stupas, many of which are studded with small and big statues of the Lord Buddha in various poses or
The Nalanda Archaeological Museum
Opposite the entrance to the ruins of the university and houses, it has a small but beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and a number of undamaged statues of the Lord Buddha that were found in the area. Two enormous terracotta Jars of the first century stand intact behind the museum in a shaded enclosure. The collection includes copper plates and stone inscriptions, coins, pottery and samples of burnt rice (12th century AD) found among the ruins here. Open during 10.00 to 17.00 hours. Closed on Friday.
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara is devoted to study and research in Pali Literature and Buddhism. This is a new institute, where students from foreign countries also study.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall:
A new construcion in memory of the great Chinese traveller, Hieun Tsang.
Since the time of Buddha, the bhikkus were always encouraged to study the variours arts and sciences. Learning was greatly encouraged as it served dual purposes: knowledge and practice. The monks travel across the globe to take admission in the famous Nalanda university. They took to learning so that they might practice it and realise Dhamma perfectly and thereby enrich the masses. The old and incapable were suggested to attach more importance to the practice of meditation. Buddha is believed to have said that if a man lived in a Sangha for a few days only and observed the precepts prescribed in the Patimokha his life would be more precious than his previous one.
The Practice of Sangharama
A long succession of kings from fifth to twelfth century extended their royal patronage to ensure the progress and prosperity of the Sangharama. One of them was Harshavardhana (606-47), who considered himself to be the servant of the monks, and he is credited for the construction of a huge monastery plated in brass together with the revenues of a 100 villages to defray the expenses of the university. The Pala kings were great patrons of Mahayana Buddhism and during the four centuries of their rule in Bihar and Bengal they were very helpful to the cause of Nalanda. The Nalanda copper plate inscription reflects the international character of the Sangharama and informs us about the erection of a monastery by the king of Sumatra and records the grant of five villages by the Pala kings for the maintenance of the monastery at the request of the foreign king.
Nalanda is 90 kms south of Patna (nearest airport) and is well connected by road.
The archaeological museum remains closed on Fridays.
Choice of accommodation at Nalanda is limited to PWD guest house and the inexpensive youth hostel.
It is advisable to consider Rajgir (15 kms away) as a better option. (52 words)
Buddhal In Abhaya Mudra (Pose)
The most dominating image is that of Buddha which took shape in the first century and thereon became the artist's first priority. The Pala school at Nalanda depicts him in all available postures. However, the finest bronze depicts him in Abhaya mudra which is noted for its simplicity and convincing modelling.
The Goddess Sculpture
Next to Buddha, most of the sculptures account for Tara (the goddess of compassion and consort of Avalokitesvara) clad in a saree 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.
Images of Shiv and Parvati
Among the Brahmanical images found at Nalanda, mention may be made 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 numeorus coins, seals and plaques on display which includes the official seal of the Sangharama.
How to get there
Air : The nearest airport is at Patna 89 kms. Indian Airlines connect Patna to Calcutta, Ranchi, Bombay, Delhi and Lucknow.
Rail : Though Rajgir (12 kms) is the nearest railway station to Nalanda yet the nearest convenient railheadis at Gaya 65 kms.
Road : Nalanda is connected by good road with Rajgir 12 kms, Bodh Gaya 50 kms, Gaya 65 kms, Patna 90 kms, Pawapuri 26 kms, Bihar Sharif 13 kms etc.
Local Transport: There are no taxis available in Nalanda. Cycle rickshws and tongas are the only modes of transport.