Takshasila was the world's first center of learning of excellence that existed around 2700 years ago, as early as 700 BCE, located in the northwest region of India
Not only Indians but also students from as far as Babylonia (Iraq), Greece, Syria, Arabia and China came to study. The minimum entrance age was 16 and there were 10,500 students.
Takshashila offered as many as 64 different specialized courses like Vedas, grammar, philosophy, ayurveda, agriculture, surgery, politics, archery, accounts, warfare, astronomy, commerce, futurology, occult, music, dance, etc. There were even curious subjects like the art of treasure hunting, decrypting encrypted messages, etc. The students would opt for electives and then would do indepth study and research into their field of choice.
Admission seekers into this great seat of learning first had to complete their basic education in their local institutions and reach the age of 16 before they were eligible for admission. Admission was highly competitive and based purely on merit. Even the sons of Kings would have to prove their merit before they were considered for admission. The course of study at Takshashila extended to as many as seven years. The students were always spoken of as going to Takshasila to 'complete' their education and not begin it. Every single student who graduated from this university would become a well sought after scholar all across the Indian subcontinent. There are not much of evidence to suggest that Takshashila had any female students in its campus.
Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BCE.
Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya. The famous treatise Arthashastra (Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics) by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself.
Besides Chanakya other great scholars of their time like Panini (language and grammar), Jivak (medicine and surgery) and Charaka (Ayurvedic healer), the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta are also taught at Takshashila.
The British archaeologist Sir John Marshall conducted excavations over a period of twenty years in Takshasila. In 1980 Takshashila was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site with multiple locations. Recently it has been ranked as the top Tourist Destination in Pakistan by The Guardian.