A trip to the Land of Enlightenment - Nalanda and Rajgir, Bihar - Part II
Day II - 28th March, 2014
Around 6.30 am I left for Nalanda. Nalanda, founded in the 5th century AD is famous as the ancient seat of learning. The ruins of the world's most ancient university lies here which is 62 km from Bodh Gaya and 90 km from south of Patna. Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous center of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hieum Tsang stayed here in the 7th century AD and left detailed description of the excellent of education system and purity of monastic life practived here. He also gave a vivid account of both the ambiance and architecture of this unique university of ancient times. In this first residential international university of the world, 2000 teachers and 10,000 monks students from all over the Buddhist world lived and studied here. The Gupta kings patronized these monasteries, built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard. Emperor Ashoka and Harshavardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who build temples, monasteries and viharas here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. An International Center for Buddhist studies was established here in 1951.
Photographs of Naland University Ruins Archaeological Complex:
After visiting Nalanda, I went to visit Rajgir.Rajgir is just 15 km from Nalanda is located the complex of temples and monasteries. It is one of the most important tourist places in India. Being located in a valley, Rajgir is a very scenic place. The small hill grit town is covered with lush green forest which add to the beautiy of the place. Rajgir was the capital of the Magadh Mahajanpad when Patliputra was not formed. Rajgir means the home of Royality. This place has been associated with Lord Buddha and Buddhism. uddha not only spent many years in Rajgir but also delivered sermons here and proselytized emperor Bimbisar at the Griddhakoota hill.
I visited the following places :
Jarashand ka Akhara: This is the Ranbhumi where Bhima and Jarasandh fought one of the Maharabarat battles.
Chinese Temple: Also visited one Chinese temple in Rajgir:
Sonbhandar Caves: Two rather strange cave chambers were hollowed out of a single massive rock. One of the chambers I believe to have been the guard room, the rear wall has two straight vertical lines and one horizontal line cut into the rock; the doorwa is supposed to lead to king Bimbisara treasury. Inscriptions in the sankhlipi or shell script, etched into wall and so far undeciphered, are believed to give the clue to open the doorway. The treasure, according to folklore, is still intact. The second chambers bears a few traces of seated nd standing etched into the outer wall.
Shanti Stupa: The Vishwa Shanti Stup is located on a 400 meter high hill. the stupa is buiot in marble and on the four corners of the stupa are four glimmering statues of Buddha. To reach the top of thishill one has to come through the "Ropeways". This place is also called the Griddhkoot.
Day III - 29th March 2014: Basically nothing much. I visited the Mahabodhi temple and did meditation for quite sometime sitting under the Bodhi Tree. Also visited several shops in and around the temple.
Day IV - 30th March, 2014: Morning at 5.45 I left for Chennai and reached Chennai on 31st March evening. While in the train, I took some photos :
Krishna River at V'wada: