Sunday, November 15, 2009

Introduction to site

The present excavated site is only a part of the ancient Nalanda Mahasangharama. As per the last eyewitness accounts left by celebrated monk-student Dharmaswamin from Tibet, the University had one main campus and then there were around 80 small monasteries further north. We can safely assume that the present extension of mound up to Begampur is part of the University as was last seen by Dharmaswamin in 1234AD. Unfortunately we don’t have any eyewitness accounts on life at Nalanda Mahasangharama after dharmaswamin.

Heritage of Nalanda- Excavated Remains of Ancient Nalanda University

Fig- Nalanda as per the Description of Dharmaswamin (1234AD)

At present more than 5 big and small villages are inhabited over the mound. The total combine population of these villages is around ten thousand. As per the folklore the mound is associated with legendary King Bhimika of Kundalpur. As per the Hindu traditions it was from here the Lord Krishna of Epic Mahabharata eloped with Rukmani, daughter of King Bhimika. As per the Jaina traditions the Mound is the remains of the palace of King Srenik (Bimbisara).
Our knowledge about the Nalanda sangharama is based on the travelogues of famous monks who stayed and pursued their studies here. We have a detailed description of Nalanda left by Xuanzang, who visited the Sangharama in 637AD and stayed here for around 2 years. His travel account inspired many more to visit and study at Nalanda sangharama. Itsing again a Chinese traveler stayed at Nalanda Sangharama for 10years from 675 to 685 AD. Hwui Lun a Korean student stayed at Nalanda and has left a brief but useful account on Nalanda Mahasangharama. A last eyewitness account is of Tibetan monk Dharmaswamin who was here from 1235 to 1237 AD.

Fig- Villages (Habitation) over mound

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