Bengali Culture :
Paharpur Bihar (Sompur Bihar) is one of the most important archaeological sites in Bangladesh. This area was named Sompur during Pala period. The name of the monastery was named after the name of the area, Sompur.
This Bihar is another unique wonder of Pala kingdom in Bengal. The Bihar was such a huge area, and no other Bihar monastery was found in the Indian sub-continent. In 1985 UNESCO gave it the status of the World Heritage Site.
Paharpur Buddha Bihar can be called the world’s largest Buddhist temple. It was the Buddhist’s most famous religious center for 300 years. Buddhists from other countries like China, Tibet, Myanmar (earlier Burma), Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. used to come here to achieve the study of religion.
Location of Paharpur: Somapura Mahavihara was situated in the middle of the capital of Pundravardhana, Pundranagar (present-day Mahasthan) and the other city, Kotiborsho (now Bangarh). Its ruins are located at Paharpur village of Badalgachi Upazila of Naogaon district, under the greater Rajshahi.
On the other hand, it is only 5 kilometers west of Jamalganj railway station in Joypurhat district. This landmark plot of the archaeological site is the quadrilateral shape. It is situated around 0.10 square kilometers (10 hectares) in the village, and it remains as a hill-like structure located about 30.30m above the surrounding plain land. Local people called it ‘the hill of Gopal Chitra.’ Since then it has been named Paharpur, although its name is Sompur Bihar.
History and Discoveries: In the seventh century (770-810 AD) Buddhist religious, a royal dynasty was established in Bangladesh. In the eighth and ninth century AD, Dharmapala, the second and third King of the Pala dynasty and his son Deva Pala established a vast empire in Bengal, Bihar, and Kanauj.The Paharpur Bihar and temples were developed in Bangladesh under the patronage of Buddhist religion’s high excellence.
In addition to various places in the Indian subcontinent, Buddhists of China, Tibet, Myanmar (earlier Burma), Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. used to come here to acquire religious knowledge. Hence, monks of Sompur Bihar donated money and treasure in different Buddhist shrines such as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, etc. have been mentioned. Mahapanditacharya Bodhivadra lived in Sompur Bihar.
Acharya (great scholar) Atish Dipankar lived for some time in Paharpur Buddhist monastery. His teacher Ratnakar Shamitya was the Mahasthabi (chief Pandit) of the Bihar. Ancient Carpenter Kanyapa and-and his guru, Jalandharan-pa, or Hari-Pa used to live here. After the end of the power of the Palas, this monastery became a ruin due to historical and geographical reasons, but today, this beautiful temple stands proudly as Asia’s greatest Buddhist monastery.
After the end of the power of the Pala dynasty, this monastery became a ruin due to historical and geographical reasons, but today, this beautiful temple stands proudly as Asia’s greatest Buddhist monastery.
During the survey work in eastern India, Buchanan Hamilton visited the site first from 1807 to 1812. Later Westmact came to Paharpur. Then in 1879 Sir Alexander Cunningham, director of the Department of Archaeology, had himself carried excavation operations.But he went back after a small excavation due to tremendous opposition from the zamindar of Balihar.
However, in the latter part, he discovered an erected 22-feet square building on the four sides and understood that the significance of this ancient temple. In 1904, Paharpur was brought under the protection of the Archaeological Preservation Act by his sincere efforts.
In 1923, the joint venture excavation began again from the University of Kolkata, Barendra (Barind) Research Council and Archaeological Survey of India, with the financial contribution of Sharat Kumar Roy, a member of the Zamindar family of Dighapatiya.
This year the excavation of the southwestern part of the site, led by the historian D.R Bhandarkar, a large number of rooms and patrols in the north-south were found. About two years later, another famous archaeologist of Bengal Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay started excavation work. He excavated in 1925-26, discovered the main stairs, terracotta plaques decorated with walls and circular paths north of the central corridor, Mandap or Hall house on the north.
As a result, for the first time, they made the ground plans. In 1933-34, under the supervision of Kashinath Dikshit, the Indian Archaeological Survey Department re-excavated. In it, the ruins of the Bihar and the remains of the temple with some stacks in the rest of the monastery were found.
This excavation work has continued for long eleven years. It was then discovered that the remains of Paharpur were re-excavated in 1987-89. Removal of stacked mud of unnecessary wastewater from the vihara area and disciplined system of disinfection should be ensured so that existing waterlogging and salinity was reduced.
Architectural detail: Paharpur Bihar is the largest Bihar of in Asia. Brick surrounded the whole Bihar. The main wall of Bihar was found to be 20 feet wide. There are many smaller temples available in the enclosure. The monastery is 922 feet in the north and 919 feet in the west. There are 177 rooms around the main temple. It is estimated that monks lived here. Each of these rooms is 14 feet long and 13 feet in width. About 80 odd monks were vestiges of this monastery. There are small doors for each room to enter. The long verandah has gone through the chambers. The only part we get after discovering is the bottom part.
Now it’s height is 70 feet. The above-ground walls and ceilings have long been disintegrated. The area that was found intact was 280 meters in length and 278 meters wide. Two halls on two sides of the courtyard and several guardrooms on both sides were found.
A small lane on the east aspect of the north corner and the middle of the eastern extremity provides one more hidden path route. The wall surrounds the entire temple. Its entrance and the central staircase to the main building was on the north side. There was a pond in front of the north entrance gate until 1984.
According to the data obtained in the year 1984-85, the pond was dug after the first construction period, and erosion of the stairs was destroyed. Later the lake was filled up. During the excavation, 125 silver coins of the reign of Kharif Harun al-Rashid were found in clay pots, and they were stored in the adjacent museum at Paharpur. Besides, many statues, coins, inscriptions, etc., rescued from Paharpur Bihar, are preserved in Paharpur Museum.
Central temple: The ruins of the Central Temple are in the middle of the open square of the intermediate area of Bihar. The wondrous main temple is the unique architecture of the building industry. Extraordinary artistic planning. There are about 2 thousand terracotta plaques available in the wall of the temple.
It was dispersed in the anticipated reflection of the general public life of East Bengal. For example – people, hunters, dancing women, shepherds, plants, flowers, animals, elephants, horses and much more.The dramatic composition of beautiful cultural history is seen in the eyes of the eyes.
The main temple was in the center of Bihar. In the heart of the original plan, there is a vacant square-faced cell with no doors and windows. This chamber stretches from the bottom of the temple to a peak. It is the center of this empty room, built on the structure of the temple. It stepped up like a pyramid step by step.
Here was the roundabout path. The temple’s length is 400 feet, and width is 350 feet. The main temple was made of bricks and mud clay mixed with it. Historians believe that the beauty of this temple was influenced later in the formation of Burma, Cambodia, Java in Indonesia and various monuments of Bali Island.
A brick pots floor has been discovered in the vacant central room. Outside the floor room, the room and the mound of the room are almost extinguished. But no way to go around the room or rooms in the center there before the door was closed later that has not found any evidence. There is no altar or idol of idols in the chamber. The statues were probably placed in the rooms around it. There is no clear sign of the top of the temple since it is not clear about the roof.
Open courtyard: Some architectural ruins were found in the Intermediate Open Space.The dining-room and kitchens are located in the southeast part of the courtyard. There is 46-meter long brick paved sewage between these two installations, and it has three wells in one row.
There are also some dusk stacks, administrative buildings, a portrait of the central temple, etc. Among the deposited stupas, the stack in the southeast is 16 angle star form. A well built on a steep platform, there is a ripe well in the nearby place. Apart from this, administrative buildings, cooked houses, dining rooms, dining stacks, wells, etc. are available sporadically.
Other notable architecture: It is basically the establishment of the outside of Bihar. Some baths and toilets were built on a stage 27m south from the southern wall of Bihar. It is connected by a high stopping path from the number 102 of Bihar. Below this route, there is a vaulted arch in the parallel to the Bihar wall. Perhaps it was designed to move freely outside Bihar and to arrange drainage.
Sandhyabotir Ghat: The south-east corner of Bihar has the Shanbankhonga Ghat (The gorge) outside the wall. It is called the evening ghat. King Meydalan’s daughter Sandhavati used to take a bath regularly. There was a river passing by Bihar. On each side, each wall is 1.5m wide. The ghat from the surface of the ground has dropped down to about 12 meters.
Gandheshwari Temple: There is a temple outside the eastern wall of 12 meters from the bathing site. There are Buddhist goddess Padmapani statues on the southern wall of the temple. It is locally known as the temple ofGandheshwari. Its length is 6.7m and width is 3.5m. Its front wall looks like a full-blown lotus with various types of flower design and masonry material.
There is a four-story hall. An octagonal pillar below the middle of the lobby room is found. Outside of a wall grown in the west, there is a worship hall of 1.4 m wide outside. Besides, there are arrangements for setting up the statue in the four hall room niches. There is a terrace in front of the temple. Its floor is erected with vertical bricks and isolated from other architectural patterns in Paharpur.
House of Satyapir (Satyapirer Bhita):
Satyapiar Bhita, located 365 meters east of Paharpur Bihar. There are a Tara (star) temple and a ruin of various shapes and sizes stupas. In the temple courtyard, around 50 terracotta plaques, erected statues, and statues of Buddhist religious doctrines have been constructed from the terracotta round seals.
There are 132 submersible mounds in the temple area. The various forms and designs around the temple testify to the multiplicity of sutures and the fame and importance of ornamentation. Among the stupas, the foursquare Stupa is located in the southeastern part of the adjoining main temple.
The length of every arm of the stupa is 3 meter, and the outer part is decorated with orange bricks. Due to the excavation, a pavement memorial chamber with an area of the 1m square has been discovered in the middle of this formula. The staircase was filled with several thousand small mud pots offering a statue.