Day 5 - Rajgir - Nalanda

The Rajgir & Nalanda Pilgrimage


The Importance of Rajgir & Nalanda

Rajgir; originally known as Girivraj, is notable in Buddhism as one of the favorite places for Lord Gautama Buddha. The well known "Atanatiya" conference was held here at the Vulture's Peak mountain. It was here, the Gridhra-kuta, ('Hill of the Vultures'), that Lord Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching. He also delivered some of his famous sermons and initiated king Bimbisara of Magadha and countless others to Buddhism.

On one of the hills is the Saptparni cave where the First Buddhist Council was held under the leadership of Maha Kassapa. The Vishwa Shanti Stupa, was built on the Vultures peak, in 1969 and is one of the 80 peace pagodas in the world, made to spread the message of peace and non-violence.

Nalanda; was an acclaimed Mahavihara, a large Buddhist monastery in the ancient kingdom of Magadha (modern-day Bihar) in India. It was a centre of learning from the seventh century BCE to c.1200 CE. Today It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from near and far with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea, and Central Asia. Archaeological evidence also notes contact with the Shailendra dynasty of Indonesia, one of whose kings built a monastery in the complex.

Much of our knowledge of Nalanda comes from the writings of pilgrim monks from East Asia such as Xuanzang and Yijing who travelled to the Mahavihara in the 7th century. Many of the names listed by Xuanzang in his travelogue as products of Nalanda are the names of those who developed the philosophy of Mahayana. All students at Nalanda studied Mahayana as well as the texts of the eighteen (Hinayana) sects of Buddhism.


After breakfast we will be visiting the following places at Rajgir; the Vishwa Shanti Stupa (World Peace Pagoda) on Vulture Peak.

The Saptaparni cave, which is located on a hill where the first Buddhist council was held immediately after Lord Buddha attained Nirvana.

The hot water springs, locally known as Brahmakund, a sacred place for Hindus.

There are other attractions related to Hinduism and Jainism which you can also visit.

After Rajgir the Tour we will proceed to Nalanda, which is at a distance of 33 Kilometers from Rajgir and will take approximately 45 minutes to reach.

At Nalanda we will be visiting excavated ruins of The Mahavihara, The Nalanda Archaeological Museum, The Xuanzang Memorial Hall and the Nalanda Multimedia Museum.

After lunch we will then proceed to Patna, which is at a distance of 45 minutes from Nalanda, for night stay. Upon reaching Patna tour will check in to the Hotel and have leisure time.

The Places you will see At Rajgir & Nalanda:



The Vishwa Shanti Stupa:

The Vishwa Shanti Stupa: The Vishwa Shanti Stupa, built on the Vulture's Peak, is one of the 80 World Peace Pagoda's around the world, the well known "Atanatiya" conference was held on this very Vultures Peak.


Vultures Peak:

It was here, at the Gridhra-kuta, ('Hill of the Vultures'), that Lord Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching.


The Saptaparni Cave:

The Saptaparni Cave is located on a hill where the first Buddhist council was held immediately after Lord Buddha attained Nirvana.


Brahmakund: the hot water springs,

a sacred place for Hindus



The Mahavihara:

While its excavated ruins today only occupy an area of around 1,600 feet (488 m) by 800 feet (244 m) or roughly 12 hectares, Nalanda Mahavihara occupied a far greater area in medieval times. It was considered an architectural masterpiece. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. Nalanda was a residential school. In its heyday, it is claimed to have accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. Chinese pilgrims estimated the number of students to have been between 3,000 and 5,000.

The subjects taught at Nalanda covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and urkey.

Xuanzang left detailed accounts of the school in the 7th century. He described how the regularly laid-out towers, forest of pavilions, harmikas and temples seemed to "soar above the mists in the sky" so that from their cells the monks "might witness the birth of the winds and clouds.The pilgrim states: "An azure pool winds around the monasteries, adorned with the full-blown cups of the blue lotus; the dazzling red flowers of the lovely kanaka hang here and there, and outside groves of mango trees offer the inhabitants their dense and protective shade.


The Nalanda Archaeological Museum:

The Archaeological Survey of India maintains a museum near the ruins for the benefit of visitors. The museum exhibits the antiquities that have been unearthed at Nalanda as well as from nearby Rajgir. Out of 13,463 items, only 349 are on display in four galleries.


The Xuanzang Memorial Hall:

The Xuanzang Memorial Hall is an Indo-Chinese undertaking to honour the famed Buddhist monk and traveller. A relic, comprising a skull bone of the Chinese monk, is on display in the memorial hall.


The Xuanzang Memorial Hall:

Another museum adjoining the excavated site is the privately run Nalanda Multimedia Museum. It showcases the history of Nalanda through 3-D animation and other multimedia presentations.

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