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Jan 25, 2012 05:52 PM
Bihar’s Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has many plans to revamp the Buddhist tourism circuit in the state. Read on to know more on what are the Chief Minister’s plans to boost tourism in the state…
The history of Nalanda goes back to the times of Lord Mahavira and Lord Buddha in the 6th century. Various legends have been associated with the evolution of the name ‘Nalanda’. While some believe the name to have been derived from the terms ‘Nalam’ meaning ‘Lotus’ and ‘da’ that means ‘to give’, Hieun Tsang in his documents has suggested a ‘naga’ to have been the inspiration behind the name of the city. Nalanda is also famed for being the birthplace of Sariputra, an important follower of Lord Buddha.
Nalanda has been an important center for Buddhism point of view, as Lord Buddha is said to have visited it many times. Various memoirs of Chinese travellers Hieun Tsang and Fi Han confirm them to have been a student at the then Nalanda University, which is the first university of its kind in the world.
Emperor King Asoka, a great patron of Buddha is also closely associated with Nalanda. He is said to have built many temples here. It was during this time, i.e. 2nd century B.C. that the renowned alchemist and philosopher Nagarjuna studied and taught here.
However, not much of the history from the Asoka time has been restored. The Guptas ruled here in the 5th century. The city was also an important part in the kingdom of Mauryan king Harshavarshan, who ruled here from 606 to 647 A.D.
The present day Nalanda was established on 6th November 1972, when it was declared as an independent district with headquarters at Bihar Sharif.
Travel within city
Nalanda is small ancient town in Bihar known for its numerous ruins. The nearest train station is at Bihar Sharif
which is located around 35 km from the town. Nalanda itself has a small station however the train connectivity is limited. The best option is to hire taxis from the Bihar Sharif and they cost around Rs 200. The best way to get around the ruins is also by cabs. There are jeeps and auto rickshaws also running from the station to the town. They are cheap and are easily available. However auto rickshaws may not be a good option for long distance rides.
Nalanda Bus Terminus is connected to other parts of Bihar and there are auto rickshaws available from the main gate. They are usually non-metered and charge around Rs 50 to reach the town center.
The best option to travel around the town and visit the ruins is to hire taxis and jeeps. They can be found in stands in and around the town. They charge approximately Rs 750 per day and may not include driver charges.
Getting around the ancient University ruins is possible only on foot, as vehicles are not allowed. Walking around the ruins might be tiring but it is the best option.
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