Built by King Dharma Pāla Deva, in the late 8th century AD, the Paharpur Buddhist Monastery follows a layout perfectly adapted to its religious function
The Paharpur Buddhist Monastery, also known as Somapura Mahavihara, is one of the most important ancient sites in Bangladesh. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Geographically, Paharpur Buddhist Monastery is located in north-west Bangladesh in the Badalgaci Upazilla of Naogaon, the heart-land of ancient “Varendra Bhumi”.
Built by King Dharma Pāla Deva, second king of the Pāla Dynasty, in the late 8th century AD, the monastery is housed within a large square rectangle, which is approximately 920 feet and has its entrance is from the north side. The outer walls of the monastery are formed by rows of cells that face inwards toward the main shrine in the centre of the courtyard. There are 177 chambers over 21 acres. The central sanctuary has a solid base, which rises with three terraces to a peak of 70 feet.
The outside walls have ornamental terracotta plaques that still reflect the influence of Buddhists, Jains and Hindu religions. Another attraction of Paharpur Buddhist Monastery are the statues in the adjacent museum for display. The highlights of the collection are Chamunda statue, Seetala statue, Keerti statue, Haargouri statue, statue of Laxmi Narayan, Uma statue, Gouri statue, Vishnu statue, Nandi statue, Visnu statue, Sun statue and Mansha statue. These statues are made of either clay stone or red stone.
A few metal sculptures have also been found. An image of Hara-Gouri, a standing Jaina and the bronze figures of Kubera and Ganesha were also discovered at Paharpur. During After Bangladesh gained independence, another excavation during 1981–82, led to the discovery of the torso of a large and important bronze Buddha.
Somapura Vihara at Paharpur is about 282 km by road from Dhaka. It will take about 6.5 hours to reach Paharpur by bus/taxi/private car. One can also fly from Dhaka to Saidpur and then take a bus to Naogaon.