The Somapuri Vihara at Paharpur was once the biggest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalaya. It dates from the 8th century AD. This is the most impressive archaeological site in Bangladesh; it was declared a protected archaeological site back in 1919, although the scholar-traveller Dr Buckman Hamilton had shown interest in it as far back as 1807. The name of the site has changed over the eons; it began life as Somapura (abode of the moon), then became Mahavihara (greatest monastery) before taking its current combination name. Getting to Paharpur is a bit of a pain on public transport, but it all adds to the element of discovery.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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