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More of Archaeological Sites

Bangladesh, is a country considerably rich in archaeological wealth, especially of the medieval period both during the Muslim and pre -Muslim rules, though most of it is still unexplored and unknown. In archaeological fieldwork and research this area was very much neglected for a long time for various reasons, not the least of which are its difficult geography and climate and remoteness from the main centers of the subcontinent. With the independence of Bangladesh in 1971 the Government has undertaken a number of field projects including a comprehensive survey and exploration of the hitherto unexplored areas and a fairly ambitious scheme of excavations on selected sites. Though work at present is carried out on a limited scale, the discoveries already made have been significant, while new information and fresh evidence are coming out gradually. These fresh explorations are likely to add substantially to our knowledge of the history and chronology of ancient Bangladesh and various aspects of her life and culture. The earlier history of Bangladesh reveals that Buddhism received royal patronage from some important ruling dynasties like the great Paals rulers, the Chandras and the Deva Kings. Under their royal patronage numerous well-organized, self-contained monasteries sprang up all over the country. The major archaeological sites are described below.
Paharpur
The largest known monastery south of Himalayas. Paharpur is a small village 5 km. west of Jamalganj in the greater Rajshahi district where the remains of the most important and the largest known monastery south of the Himalayas has been excavated. This 7th century archaeological find covers approximately an area of 27 acres of land. The entire establishment, occupying a quadrangular court, measuring more than 900 ft. externally on each side, has high enclosure-walls about 16 ft. in thickness and from 12 ft. to 15 ft. height. With elaborate gateway complex on the north, there are 45 cells on the north and 44 in each of the other three sides with a total number of 177 rooms. The architecture of the pyramidal cruciform temple is profoundly influenced by those of South-East Asia, especially Myanmar and Java. more
MAHASTHANGARH
Dating back over 2000 years. Mahasthan, the oldest archaeological site of Bangladesh is on the western bank of river Karatoa 18 km. north of Bogra town beside Bogra-Rangpur Road. The spectacular site is imposing landmarks in the area having a fortified, oblong enclosure measuring 5000 ft. by 4500 ft. with an average height of 15-ft. form the surrounding paddy fields. Beyond the fortified area, other ancient ruins find out within a semicircle of about five miles radius. more
Mainamati
An isolated low, dimpled range of hills, dotted with more than 50 ancient Buddhist settlements of the 8th to 12th century A.D. known as Mainamati-Lalmai range are extended through the center of the district of Comilla. Salban Vihara, almost in the middle of the Mainamati Lalmai hill range consists of 115 cells, built around a spacious courtyard with cruciform temple in the centre facing its only gateway complex to the north resembling that, of the Paharpur Monastery. Kutila Mura situated on a flattened hillock, about 5 km. north of Salban Vihara inside the Comilla Cantonment is a picturesque Buddhist establishment. more
Sixty Domed Mosque
In mid-15th century, a Muslim colony was founded in the inhospitable mangrove forest of the Sundarbans near the seacoast in the Bagerhat district by an obscure saintGeneral, named Ulugh Khan Jahan. He was the earliest torchbearer of Islam in tide south who laid the nucleus of an affluent city during the reign of Sultan Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah (1442-59), then known as 'khalifatabad' (present Bagerhat). Khan Jahan aborned his city with numerous mosques, tanks, roads and other public buildings, the spectacular ruins of which are focused around the most imppsing and largest multi-domed mosques in Bangladesh known as the Shait-Gumbad Masjid (160' X 108'). more
Kantanagar Temple, Dinajpur
The most ornate among the late medieval temples of Bangladesh is the Kantanagar temple near Dinajpur town, which was built in 1752 by Maharaja Pran Nath of Dinajpur. The temple, a 50' square three storeyed edifice, rests on a slightly curved raised plinth of sandstone blocks, believed to have been quarried from the ruins of the ancient city of Bangarh near Gangharampur in West Bengal. It was originally a navaratna temple, crowned with four richly ornamental corner towers on two storeys and a central one over the three storeys. Unfortunately these ornate towers collapsed during an earthquake at the end of the 19th century. In spite of this, the monument rightly claims to be the finest extant example of its type in brick and terracotta, built by Bengali artisans. The central cella is surrounded on all sides by a covered varendah, each peirced by three entrances, which are separated by equally ornate dwarf brick pillars, corresponding to the three delicately causped entrances of the balcony, the sanctum has also three richly decorated arched openings on each face. Every inch of the temple surface is beautifully embellished with exquisite terracotta plaques, representing flora, fauna, geometric motifs, mythological scenes and an astonishing array of contemporary social scenes and favourite pastimes.
Sitakot Vihara, Dinajpur
A Buddhist monastery, it is located in Nawabganj upazila under Dinajpur district. The Vihara was built roughly on a square plan (65.23m east - west and 64.11m north - south) with large outside projection on the northern and southern wings. The gateway complex, which had a wide frontage, was set in the middle of the northern wing as a part of the outer projection. The complex included two guardrooms. The approach to the monastery was through an open space. The main gateway led to an entrance hall, which was aligned with the monastic cells. The northern end of the eastern wing had a subsidiary entrance piercing the back wall. The outer projection on the south was built as a kind of hall and there was an entrance into the hall from the inside. There were in all 41 cells in this monastery: 8 in the northern wing and 11 cells each in the three other wings. The major findings are two bronze images, one of Bodhisattva Padmapani and the other of Bodhisattva Manjushri. On the stylistic ground the images have been dated in the seventh-eight century AD. The monastery has not been dated by stratigraphy, but two building periods have been postulated. Shampur Vihara, Naogaon Situated in Paharpur, Naogaon it is by far the largest Buddhist monastery that has been discovered by regular excavation. Built by the Pal king, Dharma Pal Dev, during the period stretching from 770 AD to 810 AD, it is a registered site in UNESCO's list of world heritage establishments.
Puthia Palace, Rajshahi
The two-storied Puthia Rajbari, which is the most notable structure in the area faces a four-storeyed large pyramidal dol mancha on the north, across an open ground and presents an imposing 60.96m frontage. It has two symmetrical projected wings at the east and west ends while its central part, about 15.24m wide, accommodates a grand portal. A 3.05m wide verandah runs along the front and provides access to the large halls behind. The balcony roof is supported on three graceful Corinthian fluted columns, rising up to the upper floor. The central bay is relieved with a triangular pediment and the parapet decorated with delicate floral plaster relief. The broad verandahs of the terminal bays on the east and the west are carried on four lofty fluted Corinthian columns, similarly shooting up to the upper floor ceiling. This grand palace was constructed by Rani Hemantakumari Devi in 1895 AD in honour of her mother-in-law Maharani Saratsundari Devi. At present Lashkarpur Degree College uses this building.
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