[an error occurred while processing this directive]

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Somapura Mahavihara, Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur, Bangladesh

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Somapura Mahavihara, Paharpur, Bangladesh
Somapura Mahavihara, Paharpur, Bangladesh
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Somapura_Mahavihara.jpg
photo licensing

[an error occurred while processing this directive] The ruins of Somapura Mahavihara, at Paharpur, Bangladesh, is regarded as one of the most important Buddhist viharas in the Indian subcontinent. It was inscribed as a World Heritage Site during the 9th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting in Paris, France, on 2-6 December, 1985.

Somapura Mahavihara is celebrated for its harmonious lines along with a profusion of carved decorations. The vihara is said to have influence Buddhist architecture as the religion spread to as far as Cambodia. It is one of the five great mahaviharas, or monasteries, which were established in ancient Bengal during the Pala period. These five monasteries existed together, forming a system of coordination among themselves.

Excavations at Somapura Mahavihara show that it was built by the second Pala king, Dharmapala, around 781-821 AD. This comes from clay seals with inscriptions that were discovered.

Photos of Ruins of Somapura Mahavihara, Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

Terraces of Somapura Mahavihara
Terraces of Somapura Mahavihara
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Somapura_Mahavihara,_Bangladesh.jpg" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Man
photo licensing

Brickwork of Somapura Mahavihara
Brickwork of Somapura Mahavihara
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Details_of_Somapura_Mahavihara,_Bangladesh.jpg" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Man
photo licensing

Terracotta relief, Somapura Mahavihara
Terracotta relief, Somapura Mahavihara
photo sourcehttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paharpur_Terracotta_by_Farhana_3.jpg
authorshipFarhana Azad
photo licensing

What to See in Ruins of Somapura Mahavihara, Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

Somapura Mahavihara has a square plan consisting of 177 cells, with a stupa at the centre. The cells are for the use of monks in meditation. Together, it forms a Buddhist monastery complex that covers 27 acres. It was an important centre of learning for the Dharmic Traditions such as Buddhists, Jains and Hindus.

In terms of architecture, Somapura Mahavihara resembles more to the temples in Myanmar, Java and Cambodia, than to the Indian temples in India. But it is older than all of them, having been built between 781 and 821 AD. Among the features that have been observed to bear similarities include the cruciform basement, the terraced structure with inset chambers, and the pyramid form. From studying its architecture, one can see a relationship between India and Southeast Asia. What is intriquing is that this is the only temple in the Indian subcontinent with a similar to those in Southeast Asia, where the style has become a standard.

World Heritage Site Inscription Details

Location: N 25 2 E 88 59
Inscription Year: 1985
Type of Site: Cultural
Inscription Criteria: I, II, VI


Somapura Mahavihara is located in the town of Paharpur, in the district of Naogaon in the northwestern part of Bangladesh.

Location Map

View Ruins of Somapura Mahavihara, Buddhist Vihara of Paharpur in a larger map

Visiting Ruins of Somapura Mahavihara, Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

Your base for visiting this World Heritage Site is Dhaka. You can get your hotel there to help you make the arrangement, or select the appropriate tour package or day excursion. Get a full list of hotels in Dhaka here.

Getting there

As at time of writing, I have not found a reliable travel agency to arrange a package there, so you may have to enquire upon arrival in Dhaka.

[an error occurred while processing this directive][an error occurred while processing this directive]