Mahasthangarh Tourist Activities:
- Visiting the ancient city called Pundranagar
- Visiting the suburbs of the ancient city
- Visiting the Somapura Mahabihara
- A quick trip to the local museum
Bogra Traveller Quick Facts
Administrative Division: Rajshahi Division
Area: 2,919.9 km2 (1,127.4 sq mi)
Airport: Jessore Airport (IATA: JSR, ICAO: VGJR)
Local Transport: Cars, Bus, Rickshaw, Scooter
Tourist Season: November - February
- The Kindom Pundravardhana is part of Legend and dates back to as early as 1280BC.
Bogra a northern district in the Rajshahi Division, is called the gateway to the north Bengal. It has an important place in the legendary earlier historical annals of Bengal as it was the capital of Ancient Kingdom Pundravardhana (the kingdom of the Pundras). Pundravardhana's history dates back as far as 1280BC. Remains from this ancient kingdom capital still lies in Bogra, now known as Mahasthangarh.
Pundravardhana was one of the kingdoms of Eastern India and was separated by the stream of Karatoya from the more easternly kingdom of Prag-Jyotisha or Kamrupa. The name, Pundravardhana, occurs frequently in the Mahabharata, Ramayana and the various Puranas. According to the Mahabharata and the Puranas, Vasudeva, a powerful prince of the Pundra family, is said to have ruled over Pundravardhana as far back as 1280 B.C. At present Bogra is an industrial city with many small and mid sized industries.
A limestone slab bearing six lines in Prakrit in Brahmi script, discovered in 1931, dates Mahasthangarh to at least 300BC and indicates it was part of the Mauryan empire during 300B.C – 200B.C. Northern Black Polished Ware potteries, Terracotta Figurines and punch-marked coins attests close relations with the Ganges Valley. Besides, a bronze mirror and other objects provide evidence of contacts with North-West India.
Large houses with tile-roofing were uncovered in the Eastern area, together with a large number of finely decorated terracotta figurines. Other findings indicate that the city had a vast suburb around it. Mahasthangarh was an important stop on trade routes leading to the East (Assam, Burma, Yunnan province of China) and to south (the Bay of Bengal).
After the Muslim conquest of Bengal in the early 13th century, the city lost its role of capital. It was nevertheless occasionally occupied through the centuries, as attested by the mosque and the tomb of Shah Sultan Mahisawar (17th century).
Visit Mahasthangarh, Bogra for a glimpse into the glorious past of Bengal and during the same trip also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur.
Mahasthangarh Tourist Attractions:
Today the Mahasthangarh Archaeological Site consists of remnants from the past. The main site is fortified by a citadel. Major excavation sites within the citadel include:
- Bairagir Bhita: Excavation findings include base ruins of temples, two sculptured sand stone pillars constructed and renovated between: 4th and 11th century.
- Khodarpathar Bhita: Artifacts found here includes pieces of stone carved with transcendent Buddha along with devotees kneeling with folded hands.
- Parasuramer Prasad: Contains remains of three occupation periods between 800 - 1800AD.
- Mankalir Dhap: Features base ruins of a 15-domed mosque built around 15thcentury. Terracotta plaques, bronze Ganesha and bronze Garuda were discovered during excavation works.
- Bangla-French exploration: Features 18 archaeological layers buried within a soil depth of around 17 meters. The layers are dated between 5th century BC and 12th century AD.
Beyond the fortified area, other ancient ruins are spread out within a radius of about 8 km. The significant sites are:
- Govinda Bhita: Situated 185 m north-east of the citadel and opposite the site museum. Base remains of two temples from 3rd century BC to 15th century AD has been discovered.
- Totaram Panditer Dhap and Narapatir Dhap: Both sites are located in the village Basu Vihara, about 6 km north-west of the citadel. Excavations found structural remains of ancient monasteries and temples. This place was once visited by Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) in the 7th century AD.
- Gokul Medh: Features a terraced podium with 172 rectangular blind cells. It is dated back to 6th-7th century. Local mythology associates it with legendary Lakshmindara-Behula.
- Khulnar Dhap: Situated in village Chenghispur, 700 m west of the north-west corner of the citadel, features remains of a temple.
The small museum at Mahasthangarh exhibits an interesting collection of recovered archaeological artifacts including statues of Hindu Gods, Terracotta Plaques and Bronze Statues mostly found in monasteries from the Pala period.