A prominent Buddhist pilgrimage destination and one of the most significant archaeological destinations, from Indian civilizations point view of view, Nalanda was home to one of the greatest universities ever known to mankind. Functioning from the 5th century AD to 1197 AD when Mamluk General Bakhtiar Khilji destroyed it, the Nalanda University (as it is referred to, by historians) was essentially a mahavihara and was a prime seat of knowledge and learning. This educational institution used to receive students from China, Central Asia, Greece e.t.c. and had as its students the great Chinese pilgrims Fa Hien and Hiuen Tsang. The excavated ruin of the university complex and the great stupa attracts pilgrims and heritage enthusiasts from the world over. Interestingly, if we go by the records of Hiuen Tsang only a fraction of the university complex has been excavated until now.
Amongst other places to visit in Nalanda include Nalanda Archaeological Museum, the Hiuen Tsang Memorial Hall (built in memory of the great traveller the temple possesses a relic of the monk, and once a student of the Nalanda University, in the form of a skull bone), Nalanda Multimedia Museum.
Road – Nalanda is located at a distance of 16 kms from Rajgir, 83 kms from Patna and 96 kms from Bodh Gaya. Bihar State Road Transport Corporation buses and private buses are available to these destinations but do remember that no taxis are available in Nalanda, only cycle rickshaws and tonga’s are.
Rail – Nearest railhead to Nalanda is the one at Rajgir (16 kms). However, for better rail connectivity Gaya Railway Station (82 kms) is the best option as it is well linked to most major cities in India.
Air – Gaya Airport (82 kms) and Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (Patna) International Airport (83 kms) are the closest airports to Nalanda.