Trip to a Village
Cult & Hist. Trip
Bangladesh can be proud of its rich ancient civilization. In the past this was avery rich and developed region. Travelers like Fa Xien in the 5th century, Hieun Tsang in the 7th century, Marco Polo & Ibne Batuta in the 14th century, Mu Huang in the 15th century and Zaheed Beg in the 17th century all left their impressions glorifying this place. They all were impressed by the general prosperity of the land and its wealthy cities with their palaces, temples and gardens.
At present there are several sites in Bangladesh where you can still see some of those relics. Among these Paharpur, Gaud & Puthia in Rajshahi, Mahasthan in Bogra, Kantajee’s Temples in Dinajpur, Satgambuj in Khulna and Moinamoti in Comilla are most prominent.
Near Jaipurhat in Bogra, lies a small village named Paharpur where the remains of the largest known monastery south of the Himalayas were exposed. It covers an area of about 27 acres, and consists of many structures enclosed by a continuous line of walling. The central structure is so big that it is locally known as pahar (hill). The present name is entirely due to the presence of the ruins of the ancient temple, which must have dominated the landscape, although it lies in the midst of the flat alluvial plain of northern Bengal. This monument was built between the middle of the 7th century and the third part of the 8th century AD, when Bengal was under the influence of king Sasanka, who made some attempt to assert its individuality in the sphere of art.
The ruins of ancient Pundranagar are now buried deep in Mahasthan only a few kilometers away from Bogra town. It represents the earliest city site in Bangladesh. Archaeological evidence testifies to its existence as far back as the 3rd century BC, and it continued to flourish until the 15th/16th century AD. Pundranagar used to be the regional capital of the Mauryans, the Guptas, the Palas and minor unknown Hindu dynasties. The extensive fortified mound on the western bank of Karatoya therefore represents about 18 hundred years of intensive habitation on the site.
On the border with India, at a place called ‘Gaud’, there are many Islamic architectural relics in the form of mosques left. Most of them were built during the rule of the Muslim Sultanate in the late 15th century. Many of these mosques bear fine examples of the mature architecture of the Ilyas Shahi period; among them Darasbari Mosque, Dhanichak Mosque, Chota Sona Mosque, Khania Dighi or Rajbibi Mosque are famous.
Puthia is only 23 km east of Rajshahi town. It has the largest number of historically important Hindu structures in Bangladesh. Puthia also has one of the finest old Rajbaris (king’s palace) in the country. Near Birgonj, in the Dinajpur district, you will find the terracotta temple called Kantajee’s Temples, which is considered to be the most spectacular monument in Bangladesh. A 15-sq. meter, three-storied edifice, was originally crowned with nine ornamental, two storied towers, giving it a more temple-like appearance. These towers collapsed during the great earthquake of 1897 and were never replaced.
At Rajshahi there is a very interesting museum called “Barendra Museum”. Rajshahi is also the capital of the silk industry of Bangladesh. There are several silk factories producing quality silk. The other important feature of Rajshahi is the production of delicious mangoes in summer.
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