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Nalanda University History, New Campus And 20 Interesting Facts

Nalanda University History

Nalanda University History: Imagine stepping into a place where ancient wisdom meets cutting-edge innovation, where the echoes of scholarly debates from centuries past blend seamlessly with the buzz of modern academic pursuits.

Welcome to Nalanda University! Rooted in a rich history dating back to ancient India, Nalanda has long been a beacon of knowledge and learning. Recently, it has embraced a new chapter with the inauguration of its stunning new campus in Rajgir, Bihar, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

This campus is not only an architectural marvel but also a model of environmental sustainability. Join us as we explore the fascinating history of Nalanda University, delve into the highlights of its state-of-the-art new campus, and uncover 20 intriguing facts about this iconic institution.

Nalanda University History

Situated in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern-day Bihar), Nalanda University was established in the fifth century CE. It was located near the city of Rajagriha (present-day Rajgir), close to Patliputra (present-day Patna). Nalanda University is considered the world’s first residential university, attracting scholars from all over the world, including Korea, Japan, China, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Southeast Asia.

The university received international acclaim and thrived under the patronage of the Pala dynasty during the 8th and 9th centuries. Subjects taught at Nalanda University included medicine, Ayurveda, Buddhism, mathematics, grammar, astronomy, and Indian philosophy. The impact of Nalanda University is significantly seen in its contributions to mathematics and astronomy. The Indian mathematician and inventor of zero, Aryabhata, was one of the esteemed educators at Nalanda University during the 6th century CE.

However, gaining admission to the university was not easy, as students had to face rigorous interviews. Those who were admitted were mentored by a group of scholars under the guidance of Buddhist masters like Dharmapala and Silabhadra. The university was home to nine million handwritten palm-leaf manuscripts, and its library, known as ‘Dharma Gunj’ or the ‘Mountain of Truth,’ was the richest repository of Buddhist knowledge.

Nalanda University New Campus

Nalanda University New Campus

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the new campus of Nalanda University in Rajgir, Bihar, which spans over 450 acres. The campus is designed as a ‘Net Zero’ Green Campus, focusing on environmental conservation.

The campus features two academic blocks with 40 classrooms that can accommodate around 1,900 students, and two auditoriums, each with seating for 300 students.

Nalanda University also offers a hostel facility for about 550 students, an international center, an amphitheater with a capacity of 2,000 people, a facility club, and a sports complex. This new campus represents the advanced infrastructure and symbolizes the revival of an ancient center of learning.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by many dignitaries, including External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and ambassadors from various countries.

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10 Interesting Fact About Nalanda University

Discover the ancient marvel of Nalanda University through these 20 fascinating facts that highlight its unparalleled legacy in education and scholarship.

1. Established in the 5th Century CE

Nalanda University was founded in the 5th century CE in the ancient kingdom of Magadha, now modern-day Bihar, India.

2. First Residential University

It was the world’s first residential university, accommodating over 10,000 students and more than 2,000 teachers at its peak.

3. International Scholars

Nalanda attracted scholars from all over the world, including Korea, Japan, China, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Tibet, and Southeast Asia.

4. Extensive Library

The university’s library, known as “Dharma Gunj” or “Mountain of Truth,” housed over nine million books and manuscripts in a nine-storey building called Ratnodadhi.

5. Subjects Taught

While it was a major center for Buddhist studies, Nalanda also taught astronomy, medicine, logic, and mathematics, among other subjects.

6. UNESCO World Heritage Site

In 2016, the ruins of Nalanda were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting its cultural and historical significance.

7. Revival Proposal by APJ Abdul Kalam

The idea to revive Nalanda University was proposed by former President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006.

8. Reopening in 2014

Nalanda University reopened in 2014, nearly 800 years after it was destroyed, symbolizing a significant milestone in the history of this ancient center of learning.

9. Aryabhata’s Connection

The renowned mathematician Aryabhata, who invented zero, is believed to have studied and taught at Nalanda.

10. Renowned Buddhist Monastery

The Nalanda Mahavihara was not only an educational institution but also an ancient Buddhist monastery.

11. Study of Multiple Disciplines

Though its primary focus was on Buddhist philosophy, Nalanda engaged in teaching and research across various disciplines including logic, grammar, astronomy, medicine, and mathematics.

12. 800 Years of Longevity

Nalanda functioned as a place of learning for approximately 800 years, from the 5th to the 13th century CE.

13. The Xuanzang Connection

Chinese Buddhist monk Xuanzang visited Nalanda, studied, and taught there. He carried back many Buddhist scriptures to China, spreading Buddhist knowledge.

14. Colossal Library

The university’s library, Dharmaganj, consisted of three buildings: Ratnasagar, Ratnodadhi, and Ratnaranjak. One of these buildings had nine stories filled with manuscripts.

15. Rediscovery

After its destruction, Nalanda was forgotten for centuries until it was rediscovered by Francis Buchanan in 1812 and identified by Alexander Cunningham in 1861.

16. Nalanda University Bill

The Nalanda University Bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha in 2010, passed by both houses, and received presidential assent, officially establishing the university on November 25, 2010.

17. Recognition as World Heritage

Nalanda was added to UNESCO’s Tentative List in 2009 and officially became a World Heritage Site on July 15, 2016.

18. Modern Green Campus

The new campus, inaugurated by PM Narendra Modi, features a solar plant, water treatment plant, water recycling plant, and 100 acres of water bodies, making it a ‘Net Zero’ Green Campus.

19. Advanced Infrastructure

The new campus includes two academic blocks with 40 classrooms for 1,900 students, two 300-seat auditoriums, a hostel for 550 students, and an amphitheater with a capacity for 2,000 people.

20. Symbol of Ancient and Modern Fusion

The revived Nalanda University blends ancient wisdom with contemporary knowledge, signifying a rebirth of one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious centers of learning.


In conclusion, Nalanda University stands as a testament to the enduring pursuit of knowledge and the exchange of ideas across civilizations. From its origins in ancient India to its modern-day revival, Nalanda continues to inspire with its legacy of academic excellence, cultural richness, and global influence. As we reflect on its profound contributions to human learning and understanding, Nalanda remains a beacon of enlightenment that bridges the past with the present, reminding us of the timeless value of education and the quest for wisdom.


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