Things To Do In Nalanda
Nalanda in Bihar is known primarily for its University which was created in 5th Century BC. At the time when Hiuen Tsang, traveller and philosopher, visited India and stayed here for 14 years some time in 700 AD there were 10,000 students and some 2000 teachers. However, foreign invaders burnt down the university in 1193AD and since then it has not been revived. This is sad and very depressing since there was a time when students used to learn subjects here such as astronomy and metaphysics when there were perhaps not many places in the world with such expertise. There are several things to do in Nalanda and its neighbourhood. These will now be discussed.
Visit Nalanda University Ruins
Nalanda University Ruins are an example of two opposites. At the same time these ruins indicate what man can do in order to expand his intellect and also in what manner man can destroy a thing of beauty, a monument that indicated progress. The university that was built under the patronage of great emperors like Ashoka and Harshvardhana before the rest of the mankind generally was deprived of such a fountain of knowledge, was destroyed by illiterate marauders who brought it down to the present state of ruins. These ruins are now heritage property under the UNESCO and one can locate 11 monasteries and 6 brick temples.
See the Nalanda Archaeological Museum
The Nalanda Archaeological Museum which opened in 1917 is a product of a huge amount of hard work that started in the 19th Century. Today the museum displays 349 items distributed in four galleries. These 349 items are among the 13,463 items excavated from Rajgir which is located near Nalanda. These items were those that were excavated from between 5th and 12th Centuries AD. However, some items date back to older period.
Offer Prayers at Makhdum Shah Sharif-ud-din Mosque
The Makhdum Shah Sharif-ud-din Mosque was named after an ascetic and a holy Sufi saint who performed severe exercises in the hills located nearby. The Saint was born in a village called Maner, which is near Patna. Beside his shrine there is a hot water spring which is still active. The saint was revered by all and when he died in Nalanda his disciples and followers buried his body in a tomb inside the mosque. Today people come from all over the country to offer prayers at his shrine.
Visit Jal Mandir
Jal Mandir which is located in Pawapuri near Nalanda is a temple surrounded by water. One of the most revered among all temples by Jains, this temple is dedicated to the founder of Jainism and the 24th Tirthankara, Lord Mahavira. The site of the temple is where Mahavira is supposed to have been cremated while he attained Nirvana in the year 528 BC in Pawapuri. The Jal Mandir was built by Mahavir’s elder brother King Nandivardhan and the tank that surrounds the temple was thereafter filled with red lotus flowers. This holy temple has one set of footprints of Lord Mahavira and these are worshipped.
Pray at Kundalpur Digambar Jain Temple
The magnificent Kundalpur Digambar Jain Temple with its exquisite spires has within it a shrine of Bhagwan Mahavir’s Padmasan idol that is 4.5 feet high. There are images of the feet of Lord Mahavir as well as an ancient umbrella just outside the temple. Visitors to this temple also visit an art gallery that showcases the life of Lord Mahavir. However, the most attractive part of the temple must surely be its spires. A visit to this beautiful temple is a must for all visitors to Nalanda.
Enjoy at Rajgir Wildlife Sanctuary
If you are touring Nalanda you must make it a point to visit the Wildlife Sanctuary in Rajgir which is a very view worthy sight. Located about 102km from Patna this sanctuary has several indicators and illustrations that go back to the eras of Buddha and Mahavir. The sanctuary is spread over 36 sq. km and has dense forests with about a dozen tigers, a number of neel gai and elephants as well as sloth bears and barking deer.
The Impressive Xuanzang Memorial
The famous Chinese traveller and philosopher, Xuanzang, also known as Hiuen Tsang visited India during the reign of Emperor Harsha. He travelled extensively throughout India for the period between 630 AD and 644 AD. He covered during these fourteen years places that included Kashmir and Kanauj, Mathura and Ayodhya as well as Vaishali, Nalanda and Bodh Gaya among others. This memorial was built as dedication to Hiuen Tsang and within it you will find his several writings.
Stupa of Sariputra
The Stupa of Sariputra contains the bones of Sariputra who was one of the most important among the various disciples of Lord Buddha. The Sariputra stupa resembles the shape of a pyramid and its size is very imposing. It is surrounded by pillars which look just like the kind of structures that existed during the Buddhist era. The stupa of Sariputra is very significant for the followers of Buddha. Its construction is in several layers and this makes the stupa a very attractive sight.