Nalanda/Rajgir (Buddhist Pilgrimages )
Built on a hallowed site where the Buddha had often stayed, Nalanda is one of the world's oldest living cities. The Buddhist University of Nalanda Tour, once the most prestigious center of learning in Asia, was built here. The evocative ruins of its monasteries and temples still convey a vivid impression of the serene and ordered life of contemplation and learning that prevailed here. Nalanda is located 14 kms. from Rajgir.
Nalanda is located in the eastern Indian state of Bihar. It is well known as the ancient centre of learning which has the remains of the great Nalanda University and several monasteries and temples. Both Lord Buddha and Mahavira visited this place and it remained a renowned learning centre till 12th century. Kings of Gupta, Kushan and Palva dynasties were the chief patrons of the centre, who built several monasteries and temples. The famous Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang studied here and his documents provide details about the university.
Major Attractions of Nalanda
The Nalanda University Archaeological Complex
This beautiful archeological complex houses some of the best-kept gardens and is divided by a central walkway that goes south to north. Built in typical Kushana style of architecture, all edifices are made of red brick. Do visit the monasteries or "Viharas" located east of the central alley and the temples or "Chaityas" to the west. The Vihara-1 is perhaps the most interesting with its cells on two floors built around a central courtyard with steps leading up. A small chapel still retains a half broken statue of Lord Buddha.
Open from: 9.00 am-5.00 pm
Entry fee – Rs 2
The Nalanda Archaeological Museum
Established in 1971 and located opposite the ruins of the university it has a small but beautiful collection of Buddhist and Hindu bronzes and a number of undamaged statues of Lord Buddha that were unearthed from the area. The museum also houses rare manuscripts, stone inscriptions, coins, copper plates and pottery dating back to the 12th century AD. Two enormous Terracotta Jars belonging to the first century stand intact behind the museum in a shaded enclosure.
Open from: 10.00-17.00 (closed on Friday)
Nava Nalanda Mahavihara: This study and research centre is devoted to the Pali Literature and Buddhism. This internationally acclaimed centre is frequented by students come from across the world keen on gleaning info on Buddhism and the Pali language.
Major Attractions of Rajgir
loosely translated, the name means “Vulture’s Hill”, or “Vulture’s Peak”. The Japanese Buddhist Sangha constructed the monumental Shanti Stupa atop this hill in memory of the historical significance it holds. it was here that two immensely important sermons were delivered among many others: the Lotus Sutta and the Prajnaparamita.
A magnificent white structure at the peak of the hill, the Shanti Stupa features four gold statues depicting the birth, enlightenment, teaching and death of the Buddha.
This was a monastery built by king Bimbisara as his first offering to Lord Buddha. An artificial forest, it was intended for the facilitation of meditation and peace.
These are sacred for Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists. The springs are also believed to have medicinal properties that assist in battling skin ailments. Located at the foot of the Vaibhava hill, they lead onto several temples and bifurcated sites to serve as bathing places for the two sexes. The hottest spring is called the Brahmkund, and has an average temperature of forty five degrees.
Beyond the hot springs, higher up on the mountain, there sits a stone forged (entirely by the course of nature) into a perfect rectangular shape. There are theories to suggest it was used as a watch tower. There is certain evidence of it being a favorite of the pious hermit, hence the name Pippala Cave.
The locals attribute the inexplicable markings on the rock to the Mahabharata and the two parallel furrows that are cut into the rock, spanning about thirty five feet, are said to have been burnt into the rock by the sheer force of Lord Krishna’s speeding chariot.