Paharpur – an important archaeological site in Bangladesh

By | January 9, 2009

paharpurPaharpur is situated in a village named Paharpur (Pahadpur) under the Badalgachhi Upazila of Naogaon district. The Somapuri Vihara at Paharpur was once the biggest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalaya. It dates from the 8th century AD. This is the most impressive archaeological site in Bangladesh; it was declared a protected archaeological site back in 1919, although the scholar-traveller Dr Buckman Hamilton had shown interest in it as far back as 1807. The name of the site has changed over the eons; it began life as Somapura (abode of the moon), then became Mahavihara (greatest monastery) before taking its current combination name.

The village Paharpur is connected with the nearby Railway station Jamalganj, the district town Naogaon and Jaipurhat town by metalled roads. It is in the midst of alluvial flat plain of northern Bangladesh. In contrast to the monotonous level of the plain, stands the ruins of the lofty (about 24m high from the surrounding level) ancient temple which was covered with jungle, locally called Pahar or hill from which the name Paharpur is derived.

After independence the site was further brought under excavation by the Department of Archaeology of Bangladesh. The operations took place in two phases. The first phase was initiated in 1981-82 and continued in every season up to 1984-1985. The second phase was started in 1988-89 and continued in the next two seasons up to 1990-91. In the first phase excavations were aimed at establishing the three major building phases of the cells which Dikshit mentioned in his excavation report and discovering the information of early levels. But in the second phase the works were confined to clear the cultural debris from the courtyard of the monastery.

Source: Internet

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