While Nâlandâ's traditional history dates its origin in the time of the Buddha (5th-6th Century BC) foundation of the sanghdrdma at Nâlandâ date from the Gupta period, in the 5th Century, in the 7th Century it received support from King Harsha Vardhana of Kannauj. The Pala dynesty of Bengal maintained Nâlandâ between 8th and 12th centuries.
Eleven quadranglal monastic units covering 14 hectares are unearthed at Nâlandâ,nine in a row, facing West and two adjoining them at right angles on the Southern side. The monasteries were imposing rectangular building. All the monasteries bear indications of having being rebuilt again and again, without any material deviation from a original plan, after natural decay or conflagration. Made of brick, each vihara, 50 to 60 meters long, had a central courtyard (some with a shrine) ringed by two or three stories of cells for the monks, who lived about thirty to a floor. The viharas faced a row of freestanding stupas (sometimes described as "temples") also made of brick, each with long central stairways leading to a platform on which stood the main shrine, with subsidiary shrines at the corners.