The University of Nalanda(Buddhist monastic center), located 103 km southwest of Patna, was once a Buddhist University of international fame but now it is in ruins. The construction of this great center of learning was started during the reign of Kumara Gupta (413-455 A.D.) and the later constructions were taken up under the patronage of king Harshvardhana (606-647 A.D.) and Pala Kings (8th-12th century A.D.).
During the 7th Century A.D. when Hiuen Tsang studied here, there were nearly 10,000 students from different countries and the university was a six-storeyed building.
Nalanda passed into obscurity when Bhaktiyar Khilji destroyed this center of learning in 1197 A.D.
Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous centre of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries.
Famous Chinese Sage Monk Dharma Master Hiuen Tsang stayed here in 7th century and has left detailed description of the excellence of education and purity of monastic life practiced here.
In this first residential international university of the world, 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here.
Excavation has so far unearthed 11 numbers of monasteries running north to south. Each monastery is of 62.5*51.5 m size and is surrounded by 2 to 2.3 m-thick wall. There were a large number of stucco figures of Buddhist deities on the sides of the entrance.
Two rooms with vaulted roof, constructed on the principle of arch are still present. A row of temples was built facing these monasteries. Altogether 211 sculptured panels of granite were installed in the temples. A huge Stupa was built at the southwest end.
The rooms for the students with verandahs were constructed around an inner quadrangular courtyard. The pillars used in the construction were ornamented and carved with various types of figures. There was an observatory which was used for planetary studies.