Nalanda Mahavihara (or the Nalanda University) is an archaeological site in the east Indian state of Bihar. It had been a renowned Buddhist University in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (which is the current day Bihar). It was one of the earliest and finest universities in India.
The university of Nalanda was one of the greatest centres of learning in the world from the fifth century CE to c. 1200 CE. It is known to have contributed significantly to the emergence of India as a great power around the fourth century, for which it obtained a popular status in the ancient times.
In those days, ancient Indian subjects like Vēda, the vēdāṅga-s, grammar (vyākaraṇa), astronomy (jyōtiṣa), logic (tarka), etc were taught to students at Nālandā. Until around 400 AD, Hindu/Brahmanical sects were prominent in Nalanda University, after which the Buddhist Mahāyāna sect begin to gain popularity too, and included in the syllabus here.
For years it remained a popular but after around 7th or 8th century, its popularity began to decline and eventually got forgotten. It remained forgotten up until the 19th century when the Archaeological Survey of India began conducting excavations on the site, which led to the discovery of many ruins and the site became a popular archaeological site.
It was officially declared a UNESCO world heritage site on January 9, 2009.
The university (whose remains only exist today) was enveloped by a large wall and a huge gate, and it comprised of several temples, viharas (educational and residential buildings), compounds, stupas, classrooms and meditation halls.
Its campus and premises also consisted of a few parks and lakes. Archaeologists have concluded from its excavated ruins that bright red bricks were used in its construction.
Nalanda University is open to tourists and visitors between 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
The entry costs INR 15 for Indian nationals and SAARC and BIMSTEC citizens, while it costs INR 200 for foreign citizens. However, the entry is free of cost for children below 15 years of age.
The site is located about 95 kilometres (59 miles) southeast of Patna, the capital city of Bihar. The nearest airport to Nalanda is also at Patna – Jay Prakash Narayan International airport, which gets planes to and from various cities across India and rest of the world too.
The nearest convenient railway terminal to board trains to different cities in the country is at Gaya, which is 95 km away from Nalanda.