Nalanda University, Bihar
The Nalanda Mahavihara site is in the State of Bihar, in north-eastern India. It comprises the archaeological remains of a monastic and scholastic institution dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. It includes stupas, shrines, viharas (residential and educational buildings) and important art works in stucco, stone and metal. Nalanda stands out as the most ancient university of the Indian Subcontinent. It engaged in the organized transmission of knowledge over an uninterrupted period of 800 years.
The historical development of the site testifies to the development of Buddhism into a religion and the flourishing of monastic and educational traditions.
Nalanda University was the greatest center of Buddhist learning in India’s glorious past. With upwards of 30,000 monks and nuns including 2,000 teachers living, studying and practicing there during its heyday, Nalanda was unmatched. Established during the Gupta Dynasty in the late 5th to early 6th century C.E. under the patronage of the Gupta king Shakraditra, the institution survived for six hundred years, through the Pala Dynasty, until ultimately being destroyed in 1203 by Turkish invaders.
Near the Nalanda University, there is a temple named the Black Buddha, with has an ancient large black Buddha image in Bhumisparha Mudra(This mudra, formed with all five fingers of the right hand extended to touch the ground, symbolizes the Buddha’s enlightenment under the bodhi tree). This the same temple termed “Baithak Bhairab” in Cunningham’s 1861–62 ASI report, suggesting that the Buddha image was in worship by the locals even then, suggesting a continuity of religious activity in the ruins of Nalanda. Replicas of the Black Buddha image have been installed in temples in Thailand.