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.

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