Mahasthangarh – The Largest Archaeological Site of Bangladesh

screenshot_383Mahasthangarh or Mahasthan represents one of the largest and earliest archaeological sites in Bangladesh. ‘Mahasthan’ means marvelous solemnity and ‘Garh’ means fort. This historical site is located at 13 kilometres north of Bogra town on Dhaka-Dinajpur highway in a village named Mahasthan in Shibganj thana of Bogra district under Rajshahi division. The entire area is surrounded by a well-protected wall.

Mahasthangarh is the antiquity of the ancient city Pundranagara. It has been thought that the rulers of Maurya ethnicity founded the city. From all the regions of Bengal, it is the first specific evidence of urbanization. A broken stone slab that bears six lines in Brahmi style has been found here, which is known as Mahasthan Brahmi Script. The name Pundanagala (Pundranagara) has been mentioned in it. Inside the enclosure the highest place of its south-east corner is occupied by the mazar (tomb) of a famous muslim saint Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar and a mosque of the Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar. The Karatoa River flows on the eastern bank. The southern, western and northern of this ancient city was encircled by various traces and monasteries.

Various monasteries are scattered throughout the vast area outside the wall. Among them Bairagir Bhita, Govinda Bhita, Khodar Pathar Bhita, Mankalir Kunda Dhap, Parasuram Palace , Mazar area, Mangalkot, Godaibari Dhap, Noropotir Dhap, Gokul Medh (Lokhindorer Basor Ghor), Bhasu Bihara are mentionable.

Many scholars, travelers and great personalities contributed to the discovery of the Mahasthangarh. Among them the contribution of Buchanan, C.J. O’Donnell, E.V. Westmacott, Beveridge and Alexander Cunningham are mentionable. But it was Alexander Cunningham who identified these relics as the ancient city of Pundranagara first in 1879. Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsiang came to visit the Basu monastery of this place.

There is a museum in the area of Mahasthangarh. Inside the museum many relics of ancient time such as articles of burnt clay, gold coins, precious and semi-precious stones, ornaments, terracotta plaques, toys, balls, earthenwares and so on are preserved.

The rise of society and civilization in Mahasthangarh, its prosperity and fall ranges from 3rd Century B.C. to 1500 Century A.D. From a recent excavation which has been conducted by the France-Bangladesh mission unveils 18 building layers.

This Historical place is a living evidence of various cultural trends of different ages.