Paharpur: A Living Relic of Ancient Bengal
Located in the greater Rajshahi district of Bangladesh, the archaeological site of Paharpur is filled with a rich history and cultural significance. Together with the ruins of Somapura Mahavihara, it has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Paharpur is mainly known for its ancient Buddhist temple complex, Somapura Mahavihara, which is one of the most important ancient sites in the world. It is the largest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas and houses numerous sculptures, terracotta plaques, and inscriptions that tell the story of its past.
For those who explore the ruins of Paharpur, the site can be a spiritual experience. Visitors can explore the majestic temple complex and admire its intricate carvings and sculptures.
History of Paharpur
The ancient site of Paharpur has an interesting history that dates back to the 8th century. It was founded by the famous emperor Dharmapala of the Pala Dynasty who reigned from India to Bangladesh.
The Pala Dynasty was known for its patronage of Buddhism and it was during this period that the Somapura Mahavihara was built. The monastery was a major center for Buddhist learning and housed a library of Buddhist texts.
It was also a major center of trade, art, and craft. The Pala Dynasty was known for its unique style of architecture which can be seen in the ruins of Somapura Mahavihara.
The monastery was abandoned in the 12th century and the ruins were discovered in 1879 by a British archaeologist, Alexander Cunningham. Since then, the site has been extensively studied and excavated.
Things to See in Paharpur
Paharpur is an ideal destination for those interested in exploring the ruins of an ancient civilization. The main attraction of Paharpur is the Somapura Mahavihara. The temple complex is an architectural marvel and is filled with intricate carvings and sculptures.
The temple complex is spread over an area of 27 acres and is surrounded by a high brick wall. The main structure of the temple is a square that is divided into four parts. Each part is further divided into four sub-squares and the whole temple is adorned with terracotta plaques and sculptures.
The most impressive feature of the temple is its grand entrance which is made up of three ornate arches. The arches are decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures that depict scenes from the life of the Buddha.
Apart from the temple complex, visitors can also explore the nearby museum which houses artifacts and sculptures that were excavated from the site. There is also a small pond in the center of the complex which is believed to have been used by the monks for bathing.
Paharpur is located in the greater Rajshahi district of Bangladesh. It is well-connected by road and is easily accessible from the nearby towns and cities.
The best time to visit Paharpur is during the winter months. The site is open from 6 AM to 6 PM and there is an entrance fee of Taka 50 (USD 0.60) per person.
Paharpur is a living relic of ancient Bengal. It is the largest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas and houses numerous sculptures, terracotta plaques, and inscriptions that tell the story of its past. The site is a mesmerizing example of the Pala Dynasty’s unique style of architecture and their patronage of Buddhism.
For those who appreciate history, culture, and ancient architecture, Paharpur is a must-visit destination. Exploring the ruins of Somapura Mahavihara can be a truly spiritual experience, allowing visitors to connect with the rich cultural heritage of Bangladesh and the broader South Asian region. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Paharpur stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of ancient civilizations and their contributions to human knowledge and artistic expression.