Published:  12:02 AM, 03 March 2018

Somapura Mahavihara - A UNESCO world heritage archaeological site

Somapura Mahavihara - A UNESCO world  heritage archaeological site

Due to its geographical situation the entire region of Bengal, including the Paharpur Buddhist Vihara, has been one of the vital links between India and Southeast Asia since ancient times.Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur, Badalgachhi Upazila, Naogaon District, Bangladesh is among the best known Buddhist viharas in the Indian Subcontinent and is one of the most important archaeological sites in the country.

It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. It dates from a similar time period to the nearby Halud Vihara and to the Sitakot Vihara in Nawabganj Upazila of Dinajpur District.  The archaeological site covers some 11 hectares (27 acres) of ground and is so large that before it was found locals thought it was simply a big hill. That is why the nearby village is known as Paharpur - the name is Bengalese for "hill town". Another factor that makes it impressive is its age: the Somapuri Vihara monastery dates back to the 8th century.

The monastery is located in the northwest of Bangladesh in Paharpur and its strikingly large structure stands out above the surrounding developments from quite a distance. 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.

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