Nalanda - the Seventh Place of Pilgrimage
The word Nalanda is said to be derived from the two Sanskrit words "nalam" which means a symbol of knowledge' and "da" means ‘to give'. So, the word Nalanda combinedly means "the giver of knowledge". However, other legends are also associated with the name of Nalanda. The name of Nalanda is renowned in the world for "one of the first great universities in the recorded history" which was established during the time of Gupta Emperors notably, Kumaragupta in 450 CE and distinguished by the presence of Gautam Buddha. Nalanda is located 55 miles south east of Patna, in the eastern Indian State of Bihar.
Nalanda - the Place of Gods
The name of Nalanda is renowned for the monastic university which was at the same time regarded as the highest seat of Buddhist learning associated directly with the life and teaching of Gautam Buddha. Huan Tsang had mentioned detailed account of Buddha in Nalanda according to which Buddha had taught at a number of temples and Stupas. At one of the Stupas his hair and nail clippings had been erected whereas another Stupa is marked by spot where Bimbisara first came to welcome the Buddha. Some contained images of Buddha and Avalokiteshawara whom he described as the popular object of devotion during that period.
Nalanda - The First Residential University in the World
Till the 12th century AD, Nalanda was regarded as the world's first residential university and the first university of Buddhist learning which was well described by the Chinese traveler Huan Tsang who visited and studied there in the 7th century AD. The construction of the University started in the 2nd century AD especially under the Kingship of Shkraditya and later on the successive kings. However, the University was at its peak in the 5th century AD during the reign of Kumaragupta I. Under his patronage, the University had become the greatest centre of Buddhist learning and teaching which had also provided the accommodation facilities to students and teachers with nine storied library where meticulous copy of texts were produced! There were more that 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers who lived in the campus coming from different parts of the world like Turkey, Korea, Persia, Japan, Tibet, China and Indonesia. During its heyday, it was a matter of great prestige to study at Nalanda like Oxford University and Aligarh Muslim University in today's world.
Patna - the Gateway to Buddhist Pilgrimage
Generally speaking, during the medieval and modern age Delhi was the centre of conflict among the different powers but during the ancient history of India, it was Patna which was the seat of governance for successive kingdoms. Today, the city of Patna is the capital of Bihar and is serving as a gateway to the Buddhist and Jain pilgrimage centre which takes the tourist to the important destinations like Vaishali, Rajgir, Nalanda, Bodhgaya etc. Some other attractions are Kumrahar Excavations, Har Mandir, Golghar, Patna Museum, Khuda Baksh Oriental Library, Qila House or Jalan Museum etc.