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Aschaeological Places

Bangladesh inherits a very rich architectural heritage with glorious past. The archaeological places in Bangladesh are rich with ancient civilization. Bengal had always attracted tourists. Travelers from different parts of the world had interest in this part of the world since very ancient times. They visited Bengal with varied purposes. Some came with missionary objectives, some with motives of exploring business opportunities; some came to attend seats of learning and some for meeting curiosity. Notable them were Pliny, the Elder of Greece (visited Tamralipti in the first century), Ptolemy (Claudius Ptolemaeus) of Egypt (Gauda, second century), Fa-Hien of China (Tamralipti, 5 th century), Huen-Tsang of China (Mahasthan, Samatata, Karnasuvarna, 7 th century), Ibn Batuta of Morocco (Chittagong and Sonargaon, 14 th century), Ma Huan of China (Gauda, 15 th century), Fei Tsin of China (Chittagong and Sonargaon, 15 th century), Caeser Frederick of Italy (Chittagong, late 17 th century), Ralph Fitch of England (Chittagong, late 16 th century), Sebastian Manrique of Portugal (Chittagong, early 16 th century), Nicholo Manucci of Italy (Dhaka, mid-17 th century) and Jean Tavernier of France (Dhaka, mid 17 th century).

Right now there are several archaeological places in Bangladesh, these are Mahasthangarh in Bogra, Mainamati Buddhist Monastery in Comilla (8 th -12 th century), Buddhist temple in Paharpur near Jaipurhat in Bogra, built in 7 th -8 th century, Shait (60) Gumbaz Masjid in Bagherhat which was built by Khan Jahan Ali (1433-1459), Kantanagar Temple in Dinajpur which was built by the Maharajas of Dinajpur (1704-1752), Rani Bhabani Jamindar Bari in Natore built by Rani Bhabani (1706-1710), Puthia Raj Bari in Rajshahi built by Rani Hamonta Kumari Devi in 1895.

Mahasthangarh represents the earliest and the largest archaeological site of Bangladesh , lies on the western bank of river Karatoya, about 13 km north of Bogra town on the Dhaka-Dinajpur highway, and is connected by a good metalled road. The spectacular site is an imposing landmark in the area, having a fortified, oblong enclosure measuring 1542m by 1370m with an average height of 5m from the surrounding paddy fields. Mahasthangarh consist of the ruins of the ancient city of Pundranagara . The highest point within the enclosure at the southeast corner occupied by the mazar (tomd) of Shah Sultan Mahisawar and b y a mosque of the Mughal Emperor Farrukh Siyar.

In the Mahasthan Garh, Karatoya is the major river that passes near the eastern margin and flows towards south. Three small rivers (Ichamati, Bangali and Nagar) are around the Mahasthan Garh. The northern, western and southern sides of the fortified city were encircled by a deep moat. The moat and the river might have served as a second line of defense of the fort city. Many isolated mounds occur at various places outside the city within a radius of 8 km on the north, south and west, testifying to the existence of suburbs of the ancient provincial capital. Many travelers and scholars, notably Buchanan, O'Donnell, Westmacott, Beveridge and Sir Alexander Cunningham visited this site and mentioned it in their reports.
Mainamati is better known for its Buddhist remains exposed by excavations. Here, indeed, lies the greatest assemblage of ancient Buddhist remains in Bangladesh . The Mainamati ruins were rediscovered during the Second World War. While setting up an advance camp, the military came across ancient remains at a number of points in the ridge. In the hurried survey that followed, 18 sites were recognized and protected by the government. In more regular and systematic surveys undertaken between 1955 and 1957, more than 50 sites were located. Most of those sites lie in the northern half of the ridge, now within the Cantonment.
Mainamati an isolated ridge of low hills in the eastern margins of deltaic Bangladesh, about 8 km to the west of Comilla town is a very familiar name in our cultural heritage, where archaeological excavations have revealed very significant materials. A landmark of our ancient history, it represents a small mass of quasilateritic old alluvium. The ridge, set in the vast expanse of the fertile lower Meghna basin, extends for about 17 km north-south from Mainamati village on the Gumti River to Chandi Mura near Lalmai railway station. In its widest parts, the ridge is about 4.5 km across and its highest peaks attain a height of about 45 meters. These highlands were once thickly wooded with an abundance of wild life, but modern developments have rudely disturbed its serene idyllic setting.
Paharpur Buddhist Temple an important archaeological site in Bangladesh, situated in a village named Paharpur under the Badalgachhi Upazila of Naogaon district The ancient Buddhist temple in Paharpur was built between the 7 th century and the third part of the 8 th century AD and is the largest in the south of the Himalayas. It is in the midst of alluvial flat plain of northern Bangladesh . In contrast to the monotonous level of the plain, stands the ruin of the lofty (about 24m high from the surroundings level) ancient temple which was covered with jungle, locally called Pahar or hill from which the name Paharpur is derived. It has been declared a World Heritage Site.

Puthia Upazila with an area of 192.64 sq km located only 23 km east of Rajshahi town. It has the largest number of historically important Hindu structures in Bangladesh . The archaeological heritage and relics of Puthia are Govinda Mandir, Shiva Mandir, Gopal Mandir and Dolmancha Hawakhana at Tarapur. Here you will see one of the finest old Rajbari (King's palace) of Bangladesh.

Kantanagar Temple an eighteenth century brick temple, situated in the peaceful island hamlet of Kantanagar, about 12 miles north of Dinajpur town. It has gained eminence as an outstanding monument in Bengal for its fabulous terracotta embellishment. This nava-ratna or ‘nine spired' Hindu temple, now stripped off its original nine spires atop its corners during the devastating earthquake of 1897, exhibits the exuberance of Terracotta art at its best in Bangladesh .

It records that Maharaja Prannath of Dinajpur began its construction about 1722 and it was completed by his adopted son Maharaja Ramnath. The 52 ¢ -0 ¢ ¢ square magnificent pyramidal temple rose in three receding terraces and was crowned with nine ornamental spires or ratans (jewels) on the corner of the three terraces which imparted to it an appearance of a huge rattan or an ornate chariot resting on a high plinth. It was provided with arched openings on all four side in order to enable devotees to see the deity enshrined inside from all directions.

Buddhism one of the world's oldest religious developed in India in the sixth century BC around the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. In Bangladesh , Buddhism is one of the three major religious. It has about one million followers concentrated mainly in the southeastern region of Bangladesh . Mahasthan is an old fortress city where Gautama Buddha himself visited for preaching. The ancient Buddhist temple in Paharpur is the biggest in south of the Himalayas.
Bangladesh (historical Bengal) holds a unique place in the history of Indian Buddhism at least two reasons. First, Bengal was the last stronghold of Indian Buddhism where it survived as a socio-cultural force until the twelfth century AD, despite its disappearance from other parts of the sub-continent. Secondly, it is generally claimed that Bengal was the home of a degenerate form of Buddhism known as Tantric Buddhism. Tantric Buddhism is a later development in Bengal . It is in association with the rule of emperors and kings and their support and sympathy for Buddhism at different periods of time that the history of Indian Buddhism and hence of the Buddhism of Bangladesh, should be seen. The different Buddhist places in Bangladesh have been carefully preserved and a visit at these places will acquaint you with the glorious past of Buddhism and the significance of Gautama's preaching in Bangladesh.