Archaeological Museum

One of the most visited locations in Bihar, Nalanda's Archaeological Museum houses thousands of antiquities. The museum was established in 1917 and prides itself as being one of Rajgir's earliest university-cum-monastery complexes. The main attraction of the museum is the well-preserved statues of Lord Buddha, along with a beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronze items. The museum also has two enormous terra-cotta jars that date back to the first century. Tourists can also find displays of copper plates, stone inscriptions, coins, pottery and other antiquarian objects. The museum has four galleries that display around 349 antiquities dating back to 5th-12th century AD. The first gallery showcases 57 sculptures and images while the second gallery presents miscellaneous objects like stuccos, terracotta products and iron implements. The third gallery is entirely dedicated to bronze items and the last gallery displays stone images and sculptures. The museum is a must-visit place for lovers of art and history.

Archaeological Museum

Nepura village

Spread over an area of three sq km, Nepura Village is the 16th biggest village by area in Bihar. Situated between Nalanda and Rajgir, this small village is famous for its weaving work. The village is home to around 250 families of which 50 are involved in weaving. The village is believed to be the site where one out of the three Mango grooves of the Nalanda University is present. It is also believed that Lord Mahavira and Gautam Buddha had stayed in Nepura village. It is said that Lord Buddha gave his first preaching in this village which is the reason why the village is also popular as an epicentre of Buddha preachings. The village is also famous for its handloom works, not only in Nalanda, but in other parts of Bihar as well.

Nepura village

Kundalpur

Located on the outskirts of Nalanda, Kundalpur is one of the most important pilgrim centres of Jainism. It is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainism and the final tirthankar (saint). To mark the place, a four-and-a-half-foot-tall Lord Mahavira idol has been placed in a temple here. In the same complex is Trikal Chaubeesi Jain Mandir that houses 72 idols of tirthankars. Each of these represents 24 saints, each of the past, present and future. Near the temple complex are two lakes known as Dirga Pushkarni and Pandava Pushkarni. Kundalpur is also known for the Nandyavarta Mahal, a seven-storeyed building which is said to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavira. A marvellous structure once, the palace now lies in ruins but is quite exciting to explore as it still bears traces of its former glory.

Kundalpur

Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall

Among the most attractive tourist stopovers in Nalanda, the Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall was built in the memory of Hiuen Tsang, a popular Chinese traveller who had come to study Buddhism and mysticism at the Nalanda University in 633 AD, and stayed here for 12 years. Tsang travelled around the country and also visited Takshila for further studies on Buddhism. The place where he used to learn yoga from his teacher Acharya Shil Bhadra, is now known as the memorial hall. The construction of the hall was started in January 1957 by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and got completed in 1984. During his stay, Tsang collected a number of documents that are a major source of history in Buddhist writing. These are well preserved in the memorial hall.

Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall

Nalanda Ruins Heritage

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the well-preserved ruins of Nalanda are a significant destination on the Buddhist tourism circuit. The ruins of Nalanda make for an exciting exploration trip. As you enter the Nalanda University site, large covers of nicely-kept gardens welcome you. Walking through what once used to be one of the world's first residential universities, is a fascinating experience as only stacks of bricks stand here today. Built by the Gupta emperors in 450 AD, the University complex could house 10,000 students and 2000 teachers.

The university complex was home to different compounds, student dormitories, meditation halls, temples and a library. The dormitories still house remains like stone beds, study tables and ancient ink pots. The basement of the dormitory houses the kitchen. Archaeological findings revealed that the place must have been the kitchen since burnt rice was found in the basement. The grains of rice are displayed at the Nalanda Museum, along with the other items discovered during the excavations. As you walk further, winding stairs will lead you to a long corridor with rooms on either side. These must have been the classrooms for students and are the only portion of the university ruins, which still have their roof intact. Spend some time exploring the red brick ruins that also include 11 monasteries and six temples situated on either side of a wide passage. The monasteries in Nalanda have been built in the Kushan style of architecture and most structures suggest that new buildings were raised atop the ruins of the old ones, which shows that the university underwent through multiple periods of construction. The most iconic of all these ruins is the Great Stupa, also known as the Nalanda Stupa or the Sariputra Stupa. Built in the 3rd century by Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the honour of Buddha's follower Sariputra, the stupa is shaped like a pyramid at the top. The multiple flights of stairs surrounding the stupa, lead all the way to its top. Beautiful sculptures and votive stupas flank the structure. These votive stupas have been built with bricks and passages from sacred Buddhist texts have been inscribed on them. It is believed that these stupas were constructed over the ashes of Lord Buddha. Archaeological evidence suggests that the stupa was originally a small structure and was later enlarged by further construction.

Nalanda Ruins Heritage

Nalanda Stupa Heritage

The Nalanda Stupa, also known as the Sariputra Stupa, is the most iconic of the surviving monuments in Nalanda. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is the most important monument in Nalanda and stands as a testament to its rich cultural heritage. Built in the 3rd century by Mauryan emperor Ashoka, in the honour of Buddha's follower Sariputra, the great Nalanda Stupa is shaped like a pyramid at the top. The multiple flights of stairs surrounding the stupa, lead all the way to its top.

Beautiful sculptures and votive stupas flank the structure. These votive stupas have been built with bricks and passages from sacred Buddhist texts have been inscribed on them. It is believed that these stupas were constructed over the ashes of Lord Buddha. The most striking of all the votive stupas is the fifth one, which has been preserved well along with its corner towers. These towers are adorned with exquisite panels of Gupta-era art that include stucco figures of Lord Buddha and scenes from the Jataka tales. The top portion of the stupa features a shrine chamber that houses a pedestal, which must have been originally used to place a large Lord Buddha statue. The Gwe Bin Tet Kon stupa in Myanmar is said to be influenced by the Nalanda Stupa.

Nalanda Stupa Heritage