Looking for the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh?
Bangladesh is the least touristy destination in the world according to World Bank. It is a beautiful country in South Asia bordering India and Myanmar. Tourism is yet to develop here. For that reason, people are generally surprised to see tourists here. They welcome foreigners everywhere and try to help them in any way possible.
Tourist sites are not overcrowded here yet. In fact, you’ll find very few tourists here during your visit. That is why it is the best time to travel to Bangladesh. Despite being a very small country, Bangladesh is full of beautiful archaeological sites. Here you will find a list of the 10 best archaeological sites in Bangladesh which you should not miss during your visit.
Terracotta plaques at Somapura Mahavihara (Sompur Bihar) in Paharpur. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
Best archaeological sites in Bangladesh
Creating a list of the best places in a country is always bound to raise some debate when you are making the list in a specific order. Being in the tourism industry for several years and visiting every corner of the country many times, this is what I think is a list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh which you should not miss during your visit. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with me, and have any suggestions for improvement of the list.
Somapuri Mahabhihara in Paharpur. © Photo Credit: Karen Fraser.
1. Somapura Mahavihara (Sompur Bihar) in Paharpur
In the north-western part of Bangladesh, there is a tiny little place called Paharpur, which holds the most impressive archeological site in Bangladesh called Somapura Mahavihara (Sompur Bihar), a UNESCO world heritage site. It was the second-largest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas in the 8th century. In its prime time, monks from all over the world used to come here for higher education. It was one of the best Buddhist monasteries in the world at that time. Somapura Mahavihara (Sompur Bihar) comes as number one on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Check out our archaeological tour packages in Bangladesh to visit this impressive archaeological site.
Dilapidating temples at Puthia Temple Complex in Rajshahi. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
Puthia is a small village in Rajshahi full of beautiful Hindu temples. The largest number of historical temples in Bangladesh are found in Puthia, some of which are very well maintained. These temples are unique in design. Some of them are ornamented with beautiful terracotta plaques describing epic Hindu stories. This is a must-visiting place if you visit Bangladesh. Puthia comes as number two on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Check out our archaeological tour packages in Bangladesh to visit the temple village of Puthia.
Choto Sona Masjid (Mosque) in Gaur (Gauda / Gour). © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
Gaur is a ruined city from ancient and medieval period, located in the India-Bangladesh border. The city was on its prime time during the 12th to the 14th century. It became the capital of the whole Bengal region. It was a very rich and wealthy city in the medieval period, which was finally abandoned because of cholera. Some of the beautiful mosques of Gaur are still remaining hidden behind the mango orchards. The archaeological department of Bangladesh has done some amazing restoration work to some of these mosques. This is an amazing place to visit for history lovers. Gaur comes as number three on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Check out our archaeological tour packages to visit the remaining of this ancient city.
The Sixty Dome Mosque (Shat Gombuj Mosque) in Bagerhat City. © Photo Credit: Daniel Whitfield.
4. Mosque City of Bagerhat
Bagerhat is a city founded in the 15th century by a Turkish general, which was formerly known as Khalifatabad. It is full of beautiful historic mosques, among which 60 Dome Mosque is the most famous. This whole city is recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site. The historic city, listed by Forbes as one of the 15 lost cities of the world, has more than 50 Islamic monuments that have been found after removing the vegetation that had obscured them from view for many centuries. Bagerhat comes as number four on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Check out our Rocket Steamer Tour to visit this historic city.
Abandoned city Panam Nagar in Sonargaon. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
5. Panam Nagar
Sonargaon was the old capital of Bengal in the medieval period. It was a mint capital beside Gaur. Although gone is the heritage of the old capital, there still are some interesting things to spend a day in Sonargaon. The main attraction to visit Sonargaon would be the abandoned merchant city, Panam Nagar. Built on the colonial period, this was a city of wealthy Hindu merchants to fled to India during riots after the partition in the subcontinent. They intended to return someday, which never happened. Nowadays, this is a fully abandoned city of 52 houses built on a single street.
Other attractions of Sonargaon are the 15th-century Goaldi Mosque and the Folk-arts and Crafts Museum. Panam Nagar comes as number five on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Check out our Old Capital Tour for a day tour at Sonargaon.
Kantaji Temple in Dinajpur. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
6. Kantaji Temple
Kantaji Temple is the most beautiful Hindu temple in Bangladesh. Built-in 1722-1752 Ad. by Maharaja Prannath of Dinajpur and his adopted son Maharaja Ramnath, every available inch of its wall surface from the base to the crest of its three stories, both inside and out, is decorated with an amazing profusion of figured and floral terracotta art in unbroken succession. The vast array of subject matter includes the stories of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the exploits of Krisna, and a series of extremely fascinating contemporary social scenes depicting the favorite pastimes of the landed aristocracy. Kantaji Temple comes as number six on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Located in a very remote area of the country in Dinajpur, Kantaji Temple is difficult to access with public transport. Check out our Kantaji Temple Day Tour for the convenience of visiting this beautiful temple on a single day from Dhaka.
Bagha Mosque in Rajshahi. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
7. Bagha Mosque
Built in 1523 by Sultan Nusrat Shah, Bagha Mosque is another beautiful monument of the Hussain Shahi period. It has ten small inverted cup-shaped domes. The mosque is beautifully ornamented with the finest specimens of terracotta art, depicting rich floral patterns, grapes, and rosettes on all wall surfaces, especially on the mihrabs.
The western inner wall face is relieved by three ornate mihrabs in the three southern bays, a paneled design in the fourth, and a small mihrab in the upper story of the fifth. The super terracotta decoration in the central mihrab represent a floreate framework around the niche, the spandrels of which are delicately sculptured with a profuse growth of vegetation, interlacing the bold central rosette. Bagha Mosque comes as number seven on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
Kusumba Mosque in Rajshahi. © Photo Credit: Richard Fairer.
8. Kusumba Mosque
Kusumba Mosque is the best example of the later Sultanate period mosques in Bengal. It was built in 1558 by a certain Sulaiman during the reign of Sultan Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah I. It is a rectangular mosque with six hemispherical domes above. Only six stone mosques built during the early Islamic or Sultanate period exist in greater Bengal. Kusumba Mosque is one of them. Stones used in this mosque are dark black basalt that was transported from Rajmahal hill of Bihar through waterways.
There is a well-designed raised gallery of massive stone pillars on the northwest corner. It is reached by a staircase from the ground level of the prayer room. There are no traces or proofs of any handrailing along with these steps. This is the only surviving example in Bengal of an unscreened internal connecting staircase through the place of the male worshiper, which proves that it was a place for the Sultans or rulers or builders and their immediate entourage, not a lady’s gallery, which is the popular belief. Kusumba Mosque comes as number eight on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
The tomb of Pari Bibi inside Lalbagh Fort. © Photo Credit: Gan Hui Hoon.
9. Lalbag Fort
Lalbagh Fort is a 17th-century Mughal fort and one of the key tourist attractions in Dhaka. Started by Prince Mohammed Azam and handed to the then governor of Dhaka Shaista Khan for completion, who didn’t finish it because of the death of her daughter Pari Bibi whose tomb is inside the fort. There is a small museum inside displaying Mughal paintings and calligraphy, along with swords and firearms. Lalbagh Fort comes as number nine on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
More reading: Lalbagh Fort: An unfinished Mughal fort in Old Dhaka
Star Mosque (Tara Masjid) in Old Dhaka. © Photo Credit: Raw Hasan.
10. Star Mosque (Tara Masjid)
One of the city’s most popular tourist attractions in Dhaka, dating from the early 18th century. The whole walls of the mosque are decorated with mosaic stars, so is the name. It was originally built in the typical Mughal style, with four corner towers, but radically altered later. Star Mosque comes as number ten on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh.
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Have you ever visited Bangladesh? Which sites on our list of the best archaeological sites in Bangladesh have you found the most impressive? Have I missed something here? Share your thoughts and experience with us in the comments.