Nalanda University Ruins Archaeological Complex where once the reputed Nalanda University stood covers a sprawling area of almost 14 hectares of land. Though partially in a dilapidated condition, the complex is fenced with exquisitely maintained gardens along with red brick buildings. After having a glance at these buildings, which are divided by a central walkway running from north to south, one will be able to conclude that the university was constructed in Kushana style of architecture.
It’s believed that under the patronage of emperor Kumaragupta I (r. c. 415--455 B.C.), some of the Buddhist monks founded Nalanda around 427. Being a part of ancient India, this center of learning’s location is considered to be significant as it was the same place where the religion of monks' was founded. Lord Gautama Buddha (c. 563--483 B.C.), who made this location his "capital" to teach his students. The meaning of "Nalanda" in Sanskrit meant "giver of knowledge": a combination of "nalam" (lotus, representing knowledge) and "da" ("to give").
Before turning into ruins, the Nalanda University was not just a center devoted to teachings of Buddhism; it also taught subjects such as mathematics, fine arts, politics, medicine and astronomy as well as war tactics. The whole site of Nalanda was also known for its spectacular architecture and splendid visual setting. The massive campus complex comprised of several-story buildings having several classrooms with respective meditation halls, compounds, lotus-adorned lakes and parks with mango trees.
At a point of time Nalanda University was considered to be the most famous and powerful house of knowledge as it had over 2,000 professors imparting free education to over 10,000 students of varying religious backgrounds coming from South Asia through southeastern Europe and the Middle East. The university was believed to have enjoyed patronage from various regional rulers, who contributed towards its funding and maintenance of its infrastructure too.
Nalanda University was destroyed thrice by various rulers starting from the mid-5th century, when it was just a few years old. Later it was destroyed again in the early 7th and late 12th centuries. The first two occasions witnessed the rebuilding of Nalanda by the rulers of the day. In 1197, the Turkish Muslim invaders destroyed it for the third time by which the enthusiasm for Buddhist learning declined considerably resulting in Nalanda getting neglected and languishing in ruins ever since.
Currently, the Nalanda University is managed by the Archeological Department of Bihar state which has plans to revive it as a postgraduate research university called Nalanda International University. Representatives from India and several other Asian countries convened in New York in 2008, to discuss this ancient university’s revival. The founding six faculties will include: a School of Buddhist Studies, Philosophy, and Comparative Religion; School of Historical Studies; School of International Relations and Peace; School of Business Management and Development; School of Languages and Literature; and School of Ecology and Environmental Studies.