Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur
The Somapura Vihara is a Buddhist Monastery dating from the late 8th century. It is located in Paharpur, in the northwest of Bangladesh. It is said to be the second largest single Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas. It was made a WHS as a tribute to the Pala dynasty, that ruled Bengal and Bihar for 3,5 centuries from the middle of the 8th century.
The monastery is built as a quadrangle, measuring 281 meter on each side. All outer four wings contain monastic cells, 177 in total. In the center of the vast open courtyard of the monastery stands the shrine. Its remains are still 21 meter high and have three gradually diminishing terraces. The walls were built of burnt bricks; some ornamented with motifd of flowers and seated Buddhas. There were also bands of terracotta plaques in rows all around the terraces.
From the 12th century on, after numerous attacks by invaders, the monks left and the
Monastery buildings suffered decline and disintegration.
The site was first proposed as a World Heritage Site (WHS) in 1984, but then deferred by the Committee because of plans for mining industries in the proximity. In 1985, after giving guarantees about establishing a buffer zone, it was finally included on the World Heritage List.
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 27acres 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.
A small site-Museum built in 1956-57 houses the representative collection of objects recovered from the area.The excavated findings have also been preserved at theVarendra Research Museum at Rajshahi.The antiquities of the museum include terracotta plaques, images of different gods and goddesses, potteries, coins, inscriptions, ornamental bricks and other minor clay objects.
King Dharma Pal established Paharpur Buddhist Monastery in 7th century, which is the most important and the largest known monastery south of the Himalayas, has been excavated. The main Mandir is in the center of this Monastery. This 7th century archaeological find covers approximately an area of 27 acres of land.
A small site-Museum built in 1956-57 houses the representative collection of objects recovered from the area, where you can see the statues of Buddha and Vishnu. The excavated findings have also been preserved at the Varendra Research Museum at Rajshahi. The antiquities of the museum include terracotta plaques, images of different gods and goddesses, potteries, coins, inscriptions, ornamental bricks and other minor clay objects.