Treasures of Nalanda: Embark on a mesmerizing journey through the ancient treasures, historical sites, and vibrant traditions of Nalanda district in Bihar, India.
From the enigmatic Black Buddha to the sacred Surya Temple and the ruins of the renowned Nalanda University, discover the stories that have shaped this region’s fascinating past.
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Unraveling the Mystery of the Black Buddha in Bargaon
Within the ancient ruins of Bihar’s Nalanda University in Bihar’s Nalanda district lies an intriguing yet captivating modern temple: “Black Buddha temple” or more commonly, Telia Bhairav as locals call it. “Telia” refers to oil used as a protective coating on the structure while Bhairav refers to “Lord Shiva“, Hindu’s God of Destruction.
Temple construction may have taken place on the same location as Baithak Bhairab, as reported in Cunningham’s 1861-62 ASI report.
At that time, locals worshiped a large black Buddha image known as Bhumisparha Mudra – something which still occurs today within this temple – showing continuity of religious activity within Nalanda’s ruins that has withstood time and has kept religion alive over centuries.
Replicas of Bihar’s magnificent Black Buddha image have even been installed in temples in Thailand, further cementing its global appeal.
If you find yourself visiting Bihar, don’t forget to add this beguiling temple to your itinerary and experience its captivating blend of ancient and contemporary influences.
My visit to the Black Buddha was an intriguing experience, as I listened to the local lore and observed the deep-rooted faith of the villagers. The statue’s undeniable mystique left me pondering its origins and the stories that have been passed down through generations.
The Surya Temple of Bargaon
Located just 1 km from the renowned Nalanda University Ruins and a mere 4 km from Nalanda Railway Station, the captivating Sun Temple at Surajpur Baragaon in Bihar is a must-visit destination.
As one of the 12 illustrious Suryadhams in India, this sacred site has become an iconic attraction in Nalanda.
Also known as the Surajpur Temple or Surya Mandir, this mesmerizing sanctuary is dedicated to the Sun God.
Here, visitors can marvel at the exquisite idols of Hindu deities as well as numerous Buddhist figures.
The most striking of all the statues is the impressive five-foot tall idol of Goddess Parvati.
Set against the backdrop of a serene lake, the temple’s beauty is further amplified, enchanting all who visit.
Holding immense significance among locals, this revered Hindu pilgrimage site in Nalanda is best known for its grand celebration of ‘Chhath Puja‘.
Held twice a year in the Hindu months of Vaishakha and Kartika, this auspicious event draws devotees from not only Bihar but across the nation.
Believers partake in ritual bathing in the Sun pond and worship Lord Bhaskar at the temple, with the conviction that this act can cure even the most incurable diseases, including leprosy.
The historical, mythological, and cultural importance of this temple make it an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Reliving the Glory of Nalanda University at the Ruins of Nalanda Khandar
The Nalanda University was once an illustrious center of learning, attracting scholars from around the world.
Today, the ruins of Nalanda Khandar stand as a reminder of the university’s glorious past.
I marveled at the remnants of grand structures, including the Great Stupa and several monasteries, imagining the bustling campus that once thrived here.
Located in the Indian state of Bihar, the Ruins of Nalanda University are an ancient Buddhist university and one of the oldest centers of higher learning in the world.
The university was founded in the 5th century AD and flourished until the 12th century, attracting scholars from all over the world.
The ruins of Nalanda University cover an area of approximately 14 hectares and include a number of structures such as temples, lecture halls, meditation halls, and dormitories.
The most impressive of these structures is the Great Stupa, which stands at a height of 31 meters and is surrounded by smaller stupas and shrines.
The university was renowned for its library, which was said to have housed over 9 million manuscripts and was considered one of the largest libraries in the ancient world. Unfortunately, much of the library was destroyed during the Muslim invasions of the 12th century.
Today, the Ruins of Nalanda University are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular destination for tourists and scholars alike. Visitors can explore the ruins, learn about the history of the university, and marvel at the impressive architecture of the ancient structures.
Rajgir Ropeway and Vishwa Shanti Stupa: A Spiritual and Scenic Experience
If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable experience in the heart of Bihar, look no further than Rajgir Ropeway and Vishwa Shanti Stupa.
This beautiful and historic destination is not only a spiritual hub for Buddhists and Hindus alike, but it’s also a stunning showcase of nature’s bounty.
First, let’s talk about the Rajgir Ropeway. This cable car ride takes you from the base of the Rajgir hill to the top, where you’ll be greeted with breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, forests, and temples.
The ride itself is a thrilling and scenic experience, as you soar over the valley and get a bird’s eye view of the town below.
Once you reach the top, you’ll find yourself at the foot of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa, a magnificent white dome that stands as a symbol of peace and unity.
This stupa was built in the 1960s by the Japanese Buddhist monk Nichidatsu Fujii, and it’s considered to be one of the tallest and most impressive stupas in the world.
As you make your way up to the stupa, you’ll encounter a series of terraced gardens, each with its own unique statue, shrine, or fountain.
These gardens are a testament to the beauty and diversity of the natural world, and they provide a peaceful and meditative environment for visitors.
Once you reach the top of the stupa, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the surrounding hills and valleys.
The Jal Mandir
The Jal Mandir, an architectural gem built in the form of a Vimana (chariot), houses Mahavira’s sacred footprint for worship.
A 600-foot-long stone bridge gracefully connects the temple to the pond’s bank, further enhancing its charm.
The pond’s tranquil waters, teeming with fish nurtured by priests and devotees, beautifully complement the temple’s captivating presence.
This divine sanctuary, dedicated to Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism, attracts countless pilgrims seeking blessings and enlightenment in the sacred land of Pawapuri.
The Jal Mandir, steeped in history, highlights the legacy of Mahavira, a prince turned ascetic who preached Jainism’s teachings.
During the annual chaturmas observance, Jain monks and nuns would stay in a holy place and deliver sermons to locals. It was in Pawapuri that Mahavira spent one such chaturmas and ultimately attained Nirvana.
Legend has it that Lord Mahavira attained Nirvana in Pawapuri in 527 BC.
The site of his cremation became a revered pilgrimage center, as devotees took sacred soil from the spot, creating a massive pit that transformed into a picturesque pond.
Reflecting on my enriching journey through Nalanda district, I feel grateful to have delved into the region’s historical sites and cultural experiences.
Each destination offered a unique glimpse into the fascinating past and enduring traditions that continue to shape this captivating region.
I encourage readers to embark on their own adventure and explore the wonders of Nalanda district, immersing themselves in the rich history, vibrant culture, and unparalleled beauty that await.