Rear view of ruins of the Baladitya Temple, Nalanda - 1872
Photograph of the rear view of the ruins of the Baladitya Temple at Nalanda, Bihar, taken by Joseph David Beglar in 1872. While these ruins date to the sixth century, Nalanda was originally famous as the sanctuary of Shariputra, one of Buddha's followers, almost a millennia before. It was visited by Buddha and Ashoka, the Mauryan Emperor, however there are very few archaeological remains from this early period of occupation. Nalanda soon became a major centre of Mahayana Buddhist studies and by the 7th Century scholars from all over Asia were visiting and studying at the monasteries and university. As time passed it's importance waned until in the 13th century, Muslim influence in the area became stronger and Nalanda was abandoned by Buddhists. Today, the site consists of a row of nine ruined Buddhist monasteries and four two-storey square temples with raised central sanctuaries, one of which can be seen in this photograph. The outside of the latter were decorated with pilasters and images set in niches.
James Burgess wrote in 'The Ancient Monuments , Temples and Sculptures of India' that, "Among the ruins of Nalanda, the most notable is the Temple of Baladitya (Narasinhagupta) King of Magadha, who ruled about 530.A.D. It was partly excavated in 1863 and more completely in 1871 and a short description on the door jamb, in the reign of Mahapali-deva, records a donation to the temple in Samvat 913 or A.D. 991, by an oil merchant of KAUSAMBI named Baladitya of the Mahayana School. The base is 80 feet long and the temple is built of brick partly faced with stone. It was part of the great monastic establishment of the great Buddhist School, where Hiuen Tsiang the Chinese pilgrim studied when he visited India in about 640 A.D. and of which he gives so full an account.'
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