Nalanda was one of the greatest ancient universities in the world. It was the center of learning, and people from all over the world would travel to study at Nalanda. It was also an important Buddhist learning center, where Buddhists from all over the world thronged to study Buddhism. It is currently located in a village called Bada Gaon, in Patna, the capital of Bihar state in India.
Founded in the 5th century AD, it housed a staff of two thousand, and ten thousand students. Lord Buddha visited Nalanda extensively during the 6th century AD. Buddhist scriptures, Vedas, logic, grammar, medicine etc were some of the important subjects taught at Nalanda. Recent excavations have revealed that Nalanda University had a huge stupa, which had steps and terrace. Nalanda had a complex set of monasteries on the north and the south, which felicitates Buddhist learning. These monasteries built in the Kushan architectural style, and revered by the Gupta kings. The monasteries were alike, with private cells for monks, and a wide veranda, and the courtyard had a statue of Buddha.
All the kingdoms and dynasties that ruled over the region have always revered Nalanda. The rise and fall of empires had almost no effect on the functioning and posed no threat to the existence of the university. In fact, every ruler ahs always contributed and fostered the betterment of this university. As a result, Nalanda had flourished, and reached its pinnacle from 5th century AD to 12th century AD. Some of the emperors who contributed to Nalanda include King Harshavardhana, who gifted a 25m high statue of Buddha made of bronze; Kumaragupta encouraged and contributed fine arts to the university. Kinga Ashoka gave offerings to the chaitya of Sariputra. Some of the top minds of the county taught at Nalanda, including Dharmapala, the Bramhin Scholar, Nagarguna, the Mahayana philosopher, Dinnaga, the founder of school of logic.
Some of the Chinese travelers have reveled at the brilliance of the University. Hieun- Tsang, in particular, stayed at Nalanda to gain a better understanding of the university. He has written in detail about the education and the life at Nalanda. Hieun- Tsang was also a student at Nalanda, and he received his Hindu name Mokashdeva here. The university is said to have had some of the best facilities of the time. The place had hostels, lecture halls, monasteries, and meditation halls, all which benefited the students in learning. Although Nalanda was a place of serious learning, the students did get to have fun in doing so. Learning under some f the best minds of the time was a huge privilege in itself.
Recent excavations have shown proof of Buddhist temples; stupas, chaityas and other Buddhist establishments that make us, believe that this was an important Buddhist learning center. It is on record that Lord Mahavira also stayed at Nalanda for as long as fourteen rainy seasons. Pali Buddhist literature makes note of Nalanda, describing it as a prosperous temple city, a great place of learning and an important Buddhist site.