On October 9, 2015, at a ceremony in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Portugal became the seventeenth country to sign the Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of Nalanda University.
The Memorandum was signed from the Portuguese side by Ambassador Ana Martinho, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and from the Indian side by Dr. Jitendra Nath Misra, the Ambassador of India to Portugal.
Portugal is the first European country to sign the Memorandum, and the fourth outside the East Asia Summit. The seventeen countries to have signed the Memorandum are:
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Nalanda University came into being with the notification of the Nalanda University Act on November 25, 2010. To further reinforce the university’s international character this inter-governmental Memorandum of Understanding came into force at the 8th East Asia Summit in October, 2013.
Located at Rajgir in the Nalanda District of the state of Bihar in India, the university is a non-state, non-profit, secular and self-governing international institution mandated to be engaged in the pursuit of intellectual, philosophical, historical and spiritual studies.
The university embodies the memory of the ancient Nalanda University and is premised on the shared desire of the Member States of the East Asia Summit to re-discover and re-invigorate educational co-operation, by tapping the East Asia Region’s centres of excellence in education, to enhance regional understanding and the mutual appreciation of heritage and history.
Teaching at the Schools of Historical Studies and Ecology and Environment Studies began in September, 2014, setting the university on the course of further growth.
Nalanda was very likely ransacked and destroyed by an army of the Muslim Mamluk Dynasty under Bakhtiyar Khilji in c. 1200 CE.
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 at Nalanda commenced in 1915 which unearthed eleven 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 a notable tourist destination and a part of the Buddhist tourism circuit.