Nalanda University, an ancient university, was a completely residential university believed to have 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students. The Nalanda ruins reveal through their architectural components the holistic nature of knowledge that was sought and imparted at this University. It suggests a seamless co-existence between nature and man and between living and learning.
The profound knowledge of the Nalanda teachers attracted scholars from places as distant as China, Korea, Japan, Tibet, Mongolia, Turkey, Sri Lanka and South East Asia.
Here are some lesser-known facts about Nalanda University History:
1. Nalanda University was an ancient university and also, the first International University. It was built under the patronage of the Gupta Empire in the 5th century AD and remained the best center for learning for over 800 years with around 10,000 students. In fact, 2,000 teachers came from all over the world such as Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia, and Turkey.
2. Nalanda University had the basic purpose of creating a place fit for meditation, for which it was founded by the Buddhist monks. Highly formalized Vedic learning methods helped inspire the creation of large teaching institutions such as Nalanda University, as well as Taxila and Vikramashila.
3. The great library of the Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya was called as Dharma Gunj, which means the Mountain of Truth. The library was said to house hundreds and thousands of volumes of books. The library was attacked several times in past and then later restored by Harshavardhan, the Buddhist king. But the army led by Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed the complex, massacring all the Buddhist monks in the area.
4. The famous song “O Mere Raja” from the film ‘Johny Mera Nam’ starring Dev Anand and Hema Malini was shot at the ruins of Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya and the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Rajgir, Bihar.
5. Nalanda Vishwavidyalaya attracts a huge number of tourists every year. It is well connected by road or rail. Rajgiri is the nearest train station. However, the frequency of trains is higher at Patna and Gaya. The best time to visit Nalanda is between October and March.