Though the Buddha visited Nalanda several times during his lifetime, this famous centre of Buddhist learning shot to fame much later, during 5th-12th centuries. Hiuen Tsang stayed here in the 7th century and has left detailed descriptions of the excellence of education and purity of monastic life practised here. In this first residential international university of the world 2,000 teachers and 10,000 students from all over the Buddhist world lived and s*-idied here. The Gupta kings patronised these monasteries built in old Kushan architectural style, in a row of cells around a courtyard.
Ashoka and Harshvardhana were some of its most celebrated patrons who built temples and monasteries here. Recent excavations have unearthed elaborate structures here. Hiuen Tsang had left ecstatic accounts of both the ambienceand architecture of this unique university of ancient times. An international Centre for Buddhist studies was established here in 1951.
Lauria Areraj : A 11.5 mts. high Ashokan column was erected here in 249 BC. The polished sandstone pillar has six edicts on it. The site is 30 kms. from Motihari.
Lauria Nandangarh : This site, 23 kms. from Bettiah and 14 kms. from Shikarpur, has the famous lion pillar erected by Ashoka. The 8.5 mts. polished sandstone column has an edict engraved on it. Nearby there are the remains of Nandangarh stupa, believed to contain the ashes of the Buddha.