Patna: A global
competition will be held to get the best architectural design for
the Nalanda International University at the ancient seat of
learning in Bihar, officials Thursday said.
"For the sake of the best design for Nalanda university, a global
competition will be held soon," said N.K. Singh, a member of the
Nalanda Mentor Group (NMG) headed by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
The new university will be built on an area of 446 acres in Rajgir,
10 km from the site of the ancient university in Nalanda district.
The members of the NMG, including Sen, visited the site of the
N.K. Singh said by telephone that the decision for holding a
global design competition was taken at a marathon meeting of the
NMG held here Wednesday.
"It was the idea of Amartya Sen not to decide the design in a
hurry as it will be the university of the coming centuries," Singh
This was the second meeting of the NMG. The first meeting was held
at Bodh Gaya in 2009.
According to N.K. Singh, Sen made it clear to the interim board of
governors that the revival of the ancient Nalanda university in
its new 'avtar' would call for a grand architecture.
N.K. Singh said it was also decided to float a global tender for
the construction of the university.
Another NMG member Sugata Bose of the Harvard University said that
there were already inquiries coming in from leading architects of
The objective was to bring the world to Bihar through the
university. The ancient university was an architectural marvel and
this one would have the cutting edge, Bose said.
University Vice Chancellor Gopa Sabharwal said that the meeting
also discussed issues related to academic activities.
It was decided in the meeting that the university would begin in
2013 with two schools -the school of historical sciences and the
school of environment and ecology - if the Bihar government
provided suitable accommodation, she said.
The university would carry out academic activities from a rented
premises for the time being till the construction of its own
campus, she said.
The idea of the university was first mooted in the late 1990s but
it was the then president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam's initiative in early
2006 that gave shape to the project.
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
Named after the Sanskrit term for 'giver of knowledge', the
ancient varsity, which existed until 1197 AD, attracted students
and scholars from South Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia,
Persia and Turkey, besides being a seat of higher education in
Though it was devoted to Buddhist studies, it also trained
students in subjects such as fine arts, medicine, mathematics,
astronomy, politics and the art of war.
Officials said the state government acquired nearly 500 acres of
land needed for the Nalanda International University and
infrastructure work was on at the site.
The university will be fully residential, like the ancient Nalanda.
The university will have courses in science, philosophy and
spiritualism along with other subjects.
(Imran Khan can be contacted at email@example.com)