Nalanda is considered to be the second oldest university in the world after Taxila.
History of Nalanda University: India’s colleges and universities may not be among the top educational institutions in the world today, but there was a time when this country was a major center of education in the world. The world’s first residential university was opened in India itself, which we know as Nalanda University. This university was established in 450 AD. Nalanda University was the most important and renowned center of higher education in ancient India.
The ancient Nalanda University was established by Kumara Gupta I in the fifth century during the Gupta period. According to history, it was destroyed in 1193 after the invasion of Bakhtiyar Khilji. It is said that it was set on fire during the invasion. At that time there were so many books in the library of Nalanda University that the fire could not be extinguished for several weeks.
Many Dharmacharyas and Buddhist monks working here were also killed in this attack. The entire campus of the ancient Nalanda University was surrounded by a massive wall, which had a main gate for entry. There was a row of monasteries from north to south and in front of them were many grand stupas and temples. Beautiful idols of Lord Buddha were installed in the temples, which are now destroyed.
The remains of the walls of Nalanda University are still so wide that even a truck can be driven over them. The ruins of this world famous ancient Buddhist university are still situated in the south, 90 km from Patna and about 12 km from Bihar Sharif.
Interesting facts about Nalanda University-
1. Nalanda University is a wonderful piece of architecture. You will be surprised to know that this university had 300 rooms, 7 large rooms and a huge 9-storey library for study. In which, at one time more than 3 lakh books were present.
2. Nalanda is considered to be the second oldest university in the world after Taxila. At the same time, this is the first university as a residential campus, it existed for 800 years.
3. According to history, there was a library named ‘Dharma Gunj’ in Nalanda University. It meant ‘Mountain of Truth’. There were three parts in the 9 floors of the library, namely ‘Ratnaranjak’, ‘Ratnoddhi’, and ‘Ratnasagar’.
4. Many great scholars had studied in this university, mainly the names of Harshvardhan, Dharmapala, Vasubandhu, Dharmakirti, Aryaveda, Nagarjuna.
5. The history of Nalanda University was discovered by Hansang and Itsing of China. Both of them came to India in the 7th century. Both of them wrote extensively about Nalanda after their return to China and described it as the world’s largest university.
6. The word Nalanda is derived from the union of three Sanskrit words Na + Alam + Da. It means ‘to put no restriction on the gift of knowledge’.