Mahasthangarh is the oldest known city of Bengal located in Bangladesh, dating back to the 3rd century B.C. The word ‘Mahasthan’ means a place that has excellent sanctity, and ‘Garh’ means fort. The extensive ruins of Mahasthangarh present a glorious past of about two thousand and five hundred years of Pundranagar, the capital city of ancient Pundra Vardhan Bhukti.
Mahasthangarh, spreading along the western bank of the Korotoa river, is situated about 13 km north of Bogra town. This earliest and largest city of the entire Bengal is fortified successively by mud and brick wall. It measures 1,525 meters long North-South, 1,370 meters broad East-West, and 5 meters high above the surrounding level. The river in the east and a deep moat on the west, south, and north served as additional defense apart from the citadel wall.
History of Mahasthangarh
From the archaeological evidence, it is proven that Mahasthangarh was the provincial capital of the Mauryans, the Guptas, the Palas, and the Feudal Hindu kings of a later period. Beyond the citadel, other ancient ruins found within a radius of 7/8 km in a semi-circle in the north, south, and west testify to the existence of extensive suburbs.
It is worth quoting that Yuen Chwang, the famous Chinese pilgrim, visited the Pundra Vardhana between 639-645 A.D. Sir Alexandar Cunningham rightly identified the current Mahasthangarh as Pundranagar in 1879, following the description left by Yuen Chwang.
The whole area is rich in Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim sites. The Buddhists were here until at least the 11th century. Their most glorious period was the 8th to the 11th centuries when the Buddhist Pala emperors of North Bengal ruled. It is from this period that most of the visible remains belong. The citadel was probably first constructed under the Mauryan empire in the 3rd century B.C.
Mahasthangarh fell into disuse around the time of the Mughal invasions. Most of the visible brickwork dates from the 8th century, apart from that added during restoration. Outside the citadel, there is a remaining of 6th-century Govinda Bhita Hindu Temple, which looks like a broken-down step pyramid.
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