“How about visiting Nalanda in the afternoon?” said the motorbiker-meditator.

“You mean the university?” I asked, puzzled.

I hadn’t done my homework before traveling to India (and had also renounced to the Lonely Planet), so I didn’t know that the famous Buddhist university was that close to Rajgir.

Nalanda is considered the first university in the world (some of its buildings are from the reign of Emperor Ashoka, in the third century BC).  At its peak, it had as many as several thousand students and teachers. There not only metaphysical subjects were studied, but also philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, alchemy or medicine.

“Its ruins are open to the public,” he added.

I barely could eat some chapatti (flat Indian bread) and, despite still feeling weak, I jumped at the opportunity.

The archaeological remains are overwhelming, even though only ten percent has been excavated! Ruins of temples, stupas, classrooms, libraries, bedrooms, patios, all in red brick and colossal, revealed the spiritual and intellectual fervor that once existed there, until an invading horde destroyed it in the late twelfth century… things of humans.

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