The upcoming Nalanda International University, near the ancient seat of learning in Bihar, has initiated a global competition to select the best architectural designs for its buildings, an official said.
"We have invited expression of interest from architects and architectural firms from India and abroad for a global competition to finalise the design for the university," Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said here. The last date for applying is Jan 8, 2013.
The university has, however, mandated that only those foreign architectural firms that had a joint venture with an Indian firm could apply. "We have decided to keep the history of Nalanda central to the design of the university," Sabharwal told IANS.
The new university is set to come up on 446 acres in Rajgir, 10 km from the site of the ancient university in Nalanda district, southeast of Patna. The university will be fully residential, like the ancient Nalanda university. It will offer courses in science, philosophy and spiritualism, along with social sciences.
The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s. The project took shape in early 2006 at the initiative of then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The excavated site of the ancient university at Nalanda is a place of national importance. A fifth century architectural marvel, the university was home to over 10,000 students and nearly 2,000 teachers.
Named after the Sanskrit term for 'giver of knowledge', the varsity, which existed until 1197, also attracted students and scholars from South Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia (now Iran) and Turkey.
It was a seat of higher education that was widely renowned, receiving the patronage of the Gupta dynasty, Buddhist kings like Harshavardhana and later the Pala rulers.
The ancient university was devoted to Buddhist studies, but also conducted studies and training in the fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war.
In 1193, the ancient university was ransacked by an army led by Bhaktiyar Khilji, a Turkish general of Qutb-ud-din-Aibak of the Slave Dynasty, the then ruler of northern India. It is believed that when the library was set afire, the flames continued to burn for about three months, so vast was the institution.