Nalanda was the largest residential centre of learning that the world had ever known. The library was located in a nine storied building. Since the time of Buddha, the bhikkus were always encouraged to study the various arts and sciences. Learning was greatly encouraged as served dual proposes: knowledge and practice. The Nalanda Open University is the only University in the State of Bihar meant for imparting learning exclusively through the system of distance education. The University was established in March, 1987 by an ordinance, promulgated by the Government of Bihar. Later, Nalanda Open University Act, 1995 was passes by the Bihar Legislature, replacing the Ordinance, and the University came under the authority and jurisdiction of the new Act automatically. The University is named after the famous Nalanda University of Ancient India.
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. Famous Chinese Sage Monk Dharma Master Hiuen Tsang stayed here in 7th century and has left detailed description of the excellence of education and purity of monastic life practiced 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 studied here.
Hieun Tsang Memorial Hall is also a special attraction in Nalanda University. Hieun Tsang came and stayed here both as student and as teacher. He was in Nalanda for twelve years. The Memorial Hall is built in his memory.
Near the University of Nalanda, is a temple dedicated to the Sun God. This temple has a number of statues of Hindu and Buddhist deities. The five feet high statue of Parvati is of particular interest and attraction.