Mahasthangarh is one of the oldest ancient monuments in Bangladesh. It is one of the earliest urban archaeological sites discovered in Bangladesh so far. This famous city was also known as Pundravardhana or Pundranagara in the history of the city. Mahasthangarh was once the capital of Bengal. It was archaeological evidence that the civilized population was established before the birth of Jesus Christ, some 2,500 years ago.
There are several archaeological sites in this city surrounded by walls. For centuries, this place was the capital of the mighty Maurya, Gupta, Pal and Sen Rulers, and later the Hindu feudal kings. From the 3rd BCE to the fifteenth century, the kings of various Hindu kings and other religions ruled there. Mahasthangarh is one of the oldest tourist centers in Bangladesh. There are many tourist attractions here. It was declared as the cultural capital of SAARC in 2016.
The location of Mahasthangarh is in Shibganj Upazilla in the district of Bogra. About 11 km north from Bogra town, the ruins of this city are seen on the west side of the river Karatoya. It is believed that the main reason for building the city here is because it is one of the highest regions of Bangladesh. This land is 36 meters (118 feet) high above sea level, in which the capital of Dhaka is just 6 meters (20 feet) high from the sea level. Another reason to choose this place is the position and shape of the Karatoya River. The river was three times wider than the present Padma River in the 13th century.
The famous Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang came to Pundranagar between 639 and 645 AD. In the introduction of travel, he mentioned the nature and way of life of that time. Being famous for Buddhist education, monks from China and Tibet came to Mahasthangarh to study. Then they went out in different countries of South and East Asia. They went there and spread the teachings of the Buddhist religion. Mahasthangarh was unprotected when Lakshman Sen (1082-1125), the last ruler of the Sen Dynasty, was king of Gaur. The King of Mahasthan was Nal whose conflict was with his brother Neel. At this time, a cursed Brahmin from the place called Srikrishna in Dakshina, India, is here to atone for his sin. He was cursed for mother killing with an ax. Later, he ended the confliction between these two brothers and became the King. This Brahmin’s name was Rama. In history, he is known as Parshuram. According to legend, he was a tyrant.
A spiritual fervent saint named Fakir Hazrat Shah Sultan Mahmud Balkhi (Rm) and his followers came to establish Peace of Islam and evicted Ling Parshuram. There is a strange legend about Shah Sultan Balkhi (Rm). It is said that, when he entered Mahasthangarh (Ancient Pundranagar), he crossed the Karatoya River riding on a huge fish-shaped boat. When he reached Mahasthangarh, he invited everyone to accept Islam. Initially, the army chief, minister and some ordinary people of King Parasuram accepted the message of Islam and became Muslim. Thus, when people of Pundravardhana were accepting Islam from Hindu religion, King Parshuram fought with the conflict of Shah Sultan. And then The Sultan Balakhi defeated the last king of Pundravardhana Parshuram (1205-1220).
There are many people who contribute to the identification and discovery of the ruins of Mahasthangarh. In 1808 Francis Buchanan Hamilton first identified the location of Mahasthangarh. In 1879 British archaeologist Alexander Cunningham identified this ancient historical city as the capital of Pundravardhana. Many tourists and scholars, especially C. J. O’Donel, E. V. Wehrmacht and Henry Beveridge visited this suburban area and mentioned their report. Brahmi script found in an archaeological excavation in 1931. Emperor Ashok, the provincial ruler of Pundranagar, ordered to give food and monetary assistance to the famine-stricken people from Granary. These information data show evidence of the ancient of this famous city.
The fort at the ancient city center was rectangular, which is 1.523 kilometers (0.946 miles) north-south and 1.371 kilometers (0.852 miles) east-west. There was a high and broad protective wall beside it. The size of the castle is approximately 185 hectares. Prior to excavation until 1920, the height of the fort was 4 meters above the surrounding. The defense wall was made of clay. The wall is 11-13 meters (36-43 feet) taller than the surrounding area. There was a tomb in the southeast corner of it. There is also a mosque built later (1718-19). Currently, there are several mounds and construction patterns found inside the fort. Among them, Ziyat Kunda (a well that is believed to have the power of life), Mankalir Dhap (the sacred place of Mankali), the Palace of King Parasuram, the Bairagir Bhita (the ancestral house of the nuns), the Khodar Pathor Bhita (the stone vested to God), Munir Ghon (a fort) etc. are notable.
There are several entrances in the various places such as the Kanta Duar (North), Dorab Shah Arcan (East), Burir Fatok (South), Tamra Darja (West). There are several steps (later attached) in the north-east corner, which have gone to Jahajghatta. The Gobhinda Vita (Govinda Temple) is situated on the bank of Karatoya in front of the Jahajghatta. There is a local museum in front of it. There is a rest house next to it.
Gobhindo Bhita: This is a temple located in the north-east corner of the fort. It was discovered by archaeological excavation in an uneven mound called Govinda Vita situated on the banks of the Karatoya near the wall of the city of Mahasthangarh fort. It is 200 feet long and 125 feet wide. It is assumed that the temple was built in approximately 7th century AD, depending on the different archaeological finds, the use of brick-shaped masala, architectural boons etc. The temple is mentioned in the “Karatoya Mahatnya”, a Sanskrit book written in the 12th-13th century.
Khullonar Dhap: It’s a temple. It is 1 km north of the citadel.
Mangalkot: It is a temple located 1.6 kilometers south or southwest of the Mahasthangarh Museum
Godaivari Dhap: A temple is 1 kilometer south of the Khullonar Dhap.
Totaram Panditer Dhap: It is a monastery located 4 kilometers northwest of the citadel.
Noropotir Dhap (Vasu Bihar): A group of the monastery, located 1 km northwest of the Totaram Panditer Dhap.
Gokul Medh (Lakkhindarer Basorghor): A temple three kilometers south of the citadel.
Skonder Dhap: A temple 2km south-east of Gokul Medh
Bairagir Bhita: The ruins of two temples were found in the Bairagir Bhita, excavated in 1928-29.
You can also visit Archaeological Museum of Mahasthangarh:
The museum is located 7 kilometers north of Bogra and opposite to Gobinda Vitara. This museum was established in 1967. Initially, the main part of the museum established on 3 acres of land. Now the area of the museum is almost ten acres.
Due to the Mahasthangarh excavation, thousands of precious gold, silver, iron, bronze, stone and many other precious metals, terracotta figurines, black stone statues, sandstone statues of thousands of years of Maurya, Gupta, Pal, Sen and other dynasties Bricks, goldsmiths, various inscriptions, sharp weapons, essential utensils and various types of ancient ornaments and materials was found which is stored in the museum. In addition to Mahasthangarh, many archaeological remains of more places are preserved here.
Visiting hour: The summer schedule of this museum is from 10 am to 6 pm. And the winter schedule is from 9 am to 5 pm. The Mahasthangarh Museum is closed on Sundays of the week, half-day on Monday, and on official holidays.
How to go there?
Mahasthangarh is located 11 km (6.8 miles) north of Bogra, on the Bogra-Rangpur Highway. A flowing stream of Karatoya river flows along the side. The road went to Jahajghatta and the Museum. There are several bus services to go directly from Dhaka and it takes about four and a half hours to go over the river Jamuna. Buses are also available from Bogra and there are rickshaws for local transport. In addition, rental cars are also available from Dhaka or Bogra. Traveling in a rental car can be returned to the same route, or if you wish, you can visit Sompur Mahabihar in Paharpur, Naogaon. There is a rest house next to the citadel.
Where will you stay?
There are only a few hotels in Bagerhat. The best hotels two hotels are as follows:
01. Hotel MomoInn
• Dhaka-Rangpur Road, Nawadapara, Bogra.
• 4.1 miles from Mahasthangarh.
• Free Wifi
• Free Parking
02. Hotel Naz Garden
• Bogra By-Pass Highway, Silimpur, Bogra.
• 9.3 miles from Mahasthangarh
• Free Parking
• Breakfast included