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India's greatest university is making a comeback

Text: Archana Masih
Photographs: Seema Pant

April 24, 2007
For an institution that was one of the finest universities in recorded history, the makers of the new Nalanda University have a tough act to follow.

Walking in the awesome ruins of the masterpiece set up as early as the 5th century -- past lecture halls, rooms for monks and temples -- it is quite daunting to know that you are at a site where Xuanzang or Huan Tsang, the great Chinese philosopher, was a student for five years and taught here for a year.

Then, of course, there is the town of Nalanda itself. Trudge through its dusty roads and pathways -- and you could indeed be walking in the footsteps of the Buddha.

Lord Buddha is known to have visited the town several times. So did Lord Mahavira, the founder of Jainisim.

Nalanda University existed till the 12th century. It housed 10,000 students, 2,000 teachers and had a curriculum including Buddhist studies, fine arts, medicine, mathematics, politics, astronomy and the art of war. Its buildings were an architectural masterpiece which attracted scholars from all over Asia.

Steeped in such overpowering history -- Nalanda University is once again looking towards bringing an Asian renaissance by attracting scholars and students from around the world.

Image: One of the finest universities in recorded history, Nalanda University existed from the 5th to the 12th century. It housed 10,000 students, 2,000 teachers from around the world.

Also see: ISRO to map world's oldest varsity

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