traditions inherited from the Gupta age
the tantric developments of Buddhism became most pronounced in eastern
India under the Palas.
At its peak, the school attracted scholars and students from near and far
with some travelling all the way from Tibet, China, Korea and Central
Asia. Archaeological evidence also notes contact with the Shailendras of
Indonesia, one of whose kings built a monastery in the complex.
Much of our knowledge of Nalanda comes from the writings of pilgrim
monks from East Asia such as Hiuen Tsang and Itsing who travelled to the
Mahavihara in the 7th century. Many of the names listed by Hiuen Tsang
in his travelogue as products of Nalanda are the names of those who
developed the philosophy of Mahayana. All students at Nalanda studied
Mahayana as well as the texts of the 18 (Hinayan) sects of Buddhism.
Their curriculum also included other subjects such as the Vedas, logic,
Sanskrit grammar, medicine and Samkhya.
Nalanda was probably ransacked and destroyed by an army of Bakhtiyar
Khalji in 1200 AD. While some sources note that the Mahavihara
continued to function in a makeshift fashion for a while longer, it was
eventually abandoned and forgotten until the 19th century when the site
was surveyed and preliminary excavations were conducted by the
Archaeological Survey of India. Systematic excavations commenced in
1915 which unearthed 11 monasteries and six brick temples neatly
arranged on grounds 12 hectares in area. A trove of sculptures, coins,
seals, and inscriptions have also been discovered in the ruins many of
which are on display in the Nalanda Archaeological Museum situated
nearby. Nalanda is now the seat of a modern university apart from being a
notable tourist destination and a part of the Buddhist tourism circuit.
Nalanda"s datable history begins under the Guptas and a seal identifies a
monarch named Shakraditya (Sakraditya) as its founder. Both Hiuen
Tsang and a Korean pilgrim named Prajnyavarman (Prajñvarman)
attribute the foundation of a sangharama (monastery) at the site to him.
Shakraditya is identified with Kumaragupta, whose coin has been
discovered at Nalanda. His successors (Buddhagupta, Tathagatagupta,
Baladitya and Vajra) later extended and expanded the institution by
building additional monasteries  and temples.