About 2,800 years ago, circa 800 BCE, there existed a giant University at Takshashila (often called Taxila), a town located in the north-western region of India (in today’s Pakistan). India is known for its knowledge-rich culture during ancient Bharatvarsh even though she could not keep the highest standards of education system in recent times.
Takshashila, flourished from 600 BC to 500 AD, in the kingdom of Gandhar. 68 subjects were taught at this university and the minimum entry age, ancient texts show, was 16.
At one stage, it had 10,500 students including those from Babylon, Greece, Syria, and China.
Experienced masters taught the Vedas, languages, grammar, philosophy, medicine, surgery, archery, politics, warfare, astronomy, accounts, commerce, documentation, music, dance and other performing arts, futurology, the occult and mystical sciences, complex mathematical calculations.
According to references in the Ramayana, King Bharata founded the town in the name of his son, Taksha.
When the Chinese traveller Huen T’sang (A.D. 603-64) visited Takshashila, the town had lost all its former grandeur and international character.
When Alexander’s armies came to the Punjab in the fourth century B.C., Takshashila had already developed a reputation as an important seat of learning. Thus on his return Alexander took many scholars from there with him to Greece.
The panel of masters at the university included legendary scholars like Kautilya, Panini, Jivak and Vishnu Sharma. Thus, the concept of a full-fledged university was developed in India
The site initially began to develop as a loosely connected group of buildings where learned persons resided, worked and taught.
Over the years, additional buildings were added; rulers made donations and more scholars migrated there. Gradually a large campus developed, which became a celebrated seat of learning in the ancient world.
Being near the north-west frontier of India, Takshashila had to face the brunt of attacks and invasions from the north and the west. Thus the Persians, Greeks, Parthians, Shakas and Kushanas laid their destructive marks on this institution.
The final blow, however, came from the Huns (also the destroyers of the Roman Empire) who, A.D. c.450, razed the institution.