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Nalanda University Ruins
I reached the university ruins at around 2:00 pm and bought the entry ticket. While leaving the ticket window, an old man asked me to hire a guide as it may be difficult to grasp the place’s key features without some guidance. When I asked, where can I find one, he pointed to himself and showed his government authorization card. Since my schooldays, I have read about Nalanda in my history books and later, more elaborately, in newspapers and journals. With all that history behind, I was really looking forward to witness the remains of this glorious learning center and wanted to do it right. I decided to take the guide and a deal was struck for the standard rate of Rs 200. Mr R B Prasad, the guide, didn’t disappoint me.
Enroute to Patna we visit Rajgir and Nalanda. At the time of the Buddha, Rajgirit was the capital of the Magadhan kingdom ruled by the virtuous King Bimbisara. The Buddha spent five rainy seasons at Rajgir. The hills and caves surround Rajagirha was home to spiritual teachers ranging from the materialism of the early Charavaka school to the metaphysics of the Upanishadic philosophers. Off the main road toward the south is the Griddhakuta Hill, where in the rock-cut caves here he Buddha spent time meditating. A few kilometers away is Venuvana Vihara, the first offering of King Bimbisara to Lord Buddha. Nearby is the Karanda Tank where the Buddha bathed. On the hills above are the Pippla Caves where the First Buddhist Council, six months after the Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana was held here.