Nalanda Archaeological Museum was established in 1917 to protect and house antiquities found during excavations of Nalanda and adjoining area of Rajgir and Bihar Sharif. The museum provides a perfect retreat to cultural eyes and soaks a visitor in the memories of Ancient Indian University
A total of 13463 antiquities was found in various excavations in the sites, out of which 349 are on display in the four galleries of the museum. Most antiquities are made up of Basalt stone, while many are also made of bronzes, stucco and terracotta. These antiquities showcase the imaginative skills, the assortment of sculptures exposes the attire, ornaments, and other features of societal life during the Pala period.
The museum has a rare and beautiful collection of Buddha’s bronze statues, copper plates, manuscripts, stone inscriptions, pottery, coins and images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. With two terra cotta jars or pots (1st century CE) standing just behind the museum, the place also owns unique samples of burnt rice, which dates back to the 12th century CE.
The key gallery displays sixteen sculptures among which Trailokya Vijay (a Vajrayana diety), Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya, Buddha in Varad, Dharmachakra and Bhumisparsh posture, Samantbhadra, Parshvanath and Nagaraj are worth mentioning. A scale model of excavated remains of Nalanda University occupies the central place of the hall.
There are fifty-seven images and sculptures displayed in the first gallery. Those of Khasarpana, Heruka, Marichi,Vagesvari, Vaishali-mircle, Buddha in varad mudra, miracle of Sravasti, Surya, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Shiva-Parvati, Kuber and Rishabhanath are significant ones.
The second gallery exhibits one hundred and forty seven miscellaneous objects including terracotta, stuccos, iron implements and inscriptions. The terracotta seal with legend “Sri Nalanda Mahavihariya arya bhikshu sanghasya”, the stone inscriptions of Yashovarmana, Purnavarman of Vipula Srimitra, fragmentary tablet of Nidanasutta, terracotta tiles showing swastika and kirtimukha, Dharmachakra,Votive Stupas in pipal leaf motiff and sample of charred rice are some note worthy objects in this gallery. The central showcase exhibits a multi spouted pot related to serpent worship found from Rajgir.
In the third gallery altogether ninety-three specimens of bronzes have been displayed. Two images of Buddha in boon giving posture, Tara, Prajnaparmita, Loknath, Bodhisattava padmapani, Buddha in earth touching posture, depiction of a Buddhist temple, etc. are some important images related to Buddhist faith whereas images of Ganesh, Surya, Kamadeva, Indrani and Vishnu, etc. are examples of Brahmanical religion.
Out of thirty-six stone sculptures and images kept in the fourth gallery. Kinnaras worshipping kalpadrum (2 pannels), Vishnu, crowned Buddha in preaching pose with important events of his life, Buddha in Bhumisparsh-mudhra with eight events, Marichi, Vajrapni and Padmapani Bodhisattvas are worth mentioning.
Two huge jars found from the monastic complex at Nalanda have displayed in a separate shed. A rich wealth of stone sculptures and images, terracotta, bronzes and other antiquarian objects are preserved in its reserve collection.
Opening Hours : 10.00 am to 5.00 pm
Open on all days except Friday
Entrance Fee : Rs. 5/- per head
(Children up to 15 years are free)