Nalanda was a Buddhist university established in 450CE, and was the longest running university in Indian history. Among its many notable guests were the Buddha and Mahavira, and at its zenith accommodated over 10,000 students and over 2,000 faculty. .The main way to get around Nalanda is by Tonga (horse drawn cart). A trip from the main road (where a bus or jeep will drop you off), up to the university ruins and museum should cost you Rs50 for the whole cart, or Rs10 per person in a shared cart with other people.
Here are some places you can visit Nalanda, a place replete with history.
Nalanda Archaeological Museum :
This museum houses a significant collection of Pala and Mauryan statues. 10AM-5PM daily, closed Fridays. The six rooms show off stone and metal statues that were found during the excavations of Nalanda and surrounding villages. The statues are a little detailed and full of expression than other museums in the area, and it’s certainly worth a visit. It’s about 150m down the path from the ticket office (which is directly opposite the University ruins).
Nalanda Multimedia Museum :
It is great place to visualize the History of Nalanda. It runs a 20 minute (Rs 50) movie about the history of Nalanda using 1990’s style 3D animation. About half the information contained in the show can be gained from signs around the university ruins.
Vishwashanti Stupa :
This blazing-white, 40m stupa stands atop the Ratnagiri Hill about 5km south of town (take a tonga). Recesses in the stupa feature golden statues of Buddha in four stages of his life ? birth, enlightenment, preaching and death. A wobbly, single-person ropeway runs to the summit, which has beautiful and expansive views of hills and a few Jain shrines dotting the landscape.
If you walk back down, you can detour to the remains of a stupa and Griddhakuta (Vulture?s Peak), where Buddha preached to his disciples.
This fascinating Jain museum tells the history of each of the 24 Jain tirthankars (teachers) through ornate dollhouse-like 3-D panel depictions made from wood and metal.Don?t miss the display by artist-in-residence Arharya Shri Chandanaiji Maharaj, made by hand out of flour.
Temple :Spread around Rajgir are numerous relics and sites associated with kings Ajatasatru and Bimbisara. Hindu pilgrims are drawn to the noisy Lakshmi Narayan Temple, about 2km south of town, to enjoy the health benefits of hot springs. The murky grey Brahmakund, the hottest spring, is a scalding 45?C.
Temple priests will show you around, pour hot water on your head (in the manner of bathing a pilgrim) and ask for generous donations (turn them down politely). It?s a fascinating but confusing place with no English signs; tread carefully so you don?t unintentionally offend.
Nandyavarta Mahal :
Just outside Nalanda you?ll find the striking Nandyavarta Mahal at Kundalpur, believed by the Digambar Jain sect to be the birthplace of Lord Mahavira, the final tirthankar and founder of Jainism.