List of Top 7 Ancient Indian Universities

5 minute read
List of Top 7 Ancient Indian Universities

Ancient Indian Universities: India as a nation have a historical significance of more than thousands of years old. Dating back to the Harappan Civilization, many learning institutions were established across the subcontinent to provide education. These institutions were established with the support of royal funds. These institutions or universities were located in Takshashila, Nalanda, Kashmir Smast, Vikramshila, Jagaddala Mahavihara, Valabhi University, and Somapura Mahavihara. In this blog, we will discuss the facts about these top 7 ancient Indian universities.

Top 7 Ancient Indian Universities

You must have heard about a time when India was the education hub for the world. People from different nations use to come in the ancient universities of India for getting higher education. We have mentioned a list of the top 7 ancient Indian universities, check now.

Names of UniversitiesLocation
Takshashila UniversityTaxila, Gandhara (Pakistan)
Nalanda UniversityRajgir, Bihar
Odantapuri UniversityBihar
Vikramshila UniversityBhagalpur, Bihar
Jagaddala MahaviharaRajshahi, Bangladesh
Vallabhi UniversityBhavnagar, Gujarat
Somapura MahaviharaNaogaon, Bangladesh

Must Read: Top Universities in India

Takshashila University

Among the most famous and renowned universities in the world is the University of Taxila. It was an ancient Hindu university of higher learning. According to the mythologies, Takshashila University was established by the Kuru Prince Durodhana, which was his mother’s birthplace.

Facts About Takshashila University

  • According to the archaeological findings, this university was built at least in the fifth century BC. There is also a debate among scholars some stating its existence back to the sixth century BC.
  • The infrastructure of this university included various monasteries with small halls for lectures, which were used for religious instruction.
  • Takshashila University is also famous because some popular politicians, Grammarians, rulers, astronomers and other people have taught and learned from there.
  • Chanakya, who helped Chandragupta Maurya in laying the foundation stone of the Mauryan Empire, is said to have spread his teaching at this university.
  • Some other important and influential teachers at Taxila were Vasabandhu, and Pannini, who was a Fifth-century Indian grammarian, all taught at this university at different times.

Important Students of Takshashila University

An important pupil from the ancient University of Taxila is mentioned below:

  • Bandhula, the commander of Pasedani’s army
  • Charaka, the Indian “father of medicine” and one of the leading authorities in Ayurveda also practised medicine at the university.
  • Chandragupta Maurya, Buddhist literature states that Chandragupta Maurya, the future founder of the Mauryan Empire, was taken by Chanakya for his training and education to Taxila, and had him educated there in “all the sciences and arts” of the period, including military sciences. Chandragupta Maurya studied for eight years.

Nalanda University

Nalanda was an ancient Buddhist monastery, which also served as an institution of learning during the Magadha Empire. This university gained significant popularity and position in ancient history and was at its greatest heights around the fourth century BC.

Facts About Nalanda University

  • This University was established by the Gupta Emperor Kumaragupta in around the fifth century CE.
  • This university is located 95 km southeast of Patna, Bihar and today is listed under the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Students from China, Tibet, Korea and Central Asia used to travel to study at Nalanda.
  • Its name was mentioned in records for the first time by the Chinese travellers Xuanzang and Yijing in their accounts dating back to the Seventh century CE.
  • Numerous subjects were taught at Nalanda including religious and secular, science and arts, and philosophical and practical.

Odantapuri University

The University of Odantapuri was a prominent or popular Buddhist Mahavihara, presently located in Bihar, India. Historians are of the opinion that this university was established by the Pala Emperor, Gopala in around Eight century CE.

Facts About Odantapuri University

  • Odantapuri is listed as the second oldest Mahaviharas in India after Nalanda University.
  • Its location was close to where once Maghadha empire was spread.
  • In around the early Twelfth century CE, during the repeated invasions by Muslim invaders, the Vihara was destroyed.
  • According to some Tibetan records, this university had more than 12,000 pupils at the peak of its height.

Vikramshila University

The Vikramshila University was one of the most important learning centres or institutions which were established during the Pala Empire. Presently, this university is located in Bhagalpur district, modern-day Bihar.

Facts About Vikramshila University

  • The Pala emperor Dharmapala, whose reign is dated between 783 to 820 AD, laid the foundation of the Vikramshila University.
  • In 1193, the Muslim invader Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji destroyed this city and university.
  • As per the accounts left by Tibetan monks, it was at Vikramshila that the system of awarding degrees started first.
  • Those who completed their education were awarded titles such as Pandits and Mahapandits. And those with extraordinary alumni had their portraits painted on the university’s walls.

Jagaddala Mahavihara

Jagaddala Mahavihara also spelt as Jaggadala was an ancient Buddhist monastery and is currently situated in modern-day Bangladesh. There is a debate among historians, some supporting the view that it was established by Pala king Ramapala, while others believe that it was established by Kampala.

Facts About Jagaddala Mahavihara

  • Tibetan records have mentioned that it was at Jagaddala where many Sanskrit sacred texts were translated into Tibetan.
  • The information about this university is very scattered, and some support the view that it had fallen to foreign invasion around the early 13th century.

Valabhi University

Valabhi University is an ancient learning institution, located in modern-day Bhavnagar, Gujarat. This university used to receive royal funds for its sustenance and it was the lineage of the Maitrak dynasty, who later on became the patron of this university and designed its infrastructure further.

Facts About Vallabhi University

  • By the mid-Seventh century CE, Vallabhi had gained popularity for teaching Buddhist philosophy and Vedic literature.
  • Some of the popular subjects taught at this university were Economics, Statesmanship, Business, Book-keeping and Agriculture.
  • This university continued to function normally till the mid-Twelth century and was later destroyed by the Muslim invaders.
  • The foreign attacks had weakened the influence of local kings and it also disrupted the financial support this institution used to receive.

Pushpagiri University

Pushpagiri University is among the oldest Buddhist centres of learning, situated in the Jajpur district of Odisha. Some historians support the view that this university is older than Nalanda and that it was established by Ashoka the Great.

Facts About Pushpagiri University

  • The campus of this university spreads around three adjoining hills, which are Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, and Udayagiri.
  • Chinese traveller Xuangzang, who visited India around the seventh century, mentioned the name Pushpagiri for the first time.
  • Pushpagiri was among those universities that received royal patronage not only from local rulers but also from rulers of different and faraway countries.


What are the most famous ancient Indian universities?

Some of the most famous ancient Indian universities are mentioned below
Tashashila University
Nalanda University
Valabhi University
Mithila University.

Which is the oldest university in India?

There is a debate among historians, where some say Nalanda University is the oldest ancient university in India and some support Pushpagiri university to be the oldest.

Where is Odantapuri University located?

Odantapuri University is located in the Indian state of Bihar. Odantapuri is listed as the second oldest Mahaviharas in India after Nalanda University.

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