Must see attractions in Bangladesh

  • Top ChoiceSights in Dinajpur

    Kantanagar Temple

    Set amidst gorgeous countryside, the vault-roofed rouge sandcastle of Kantanagar Temple, also known locally as Kantaji, is a stunning piece of religious artwork, and one of the most impressive Hindu monuments in Bangladesh. Built in 1752 by Pran Nath, a renowned maharaja from Dinajpur, it is the country’s finest example of brick and terracotta style temple architecture. Its most remarkable feature, typical of mid-18th-century Hindu temples, is its superb surface decoration, with infinite panels of sculpted terracotta plaques depicting both figurative and floral motifs.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Paharpur

    Somapuri Vihara

    The hulking 20m-high remains of a 1300-year-old red-brick stupa form the central attraction of the vast monastery complex at Somapuri Vihara. Shaped like a quadrangle covering 11 hectares, the complex has monastic cells that line its outer walls and enclose an enormous open-air courtyard with the stupa at its centre. The stupa’s floor plan is cruciform, topped by a three-tier superstructure. Look out for clay tiles lining its base, which depict various people and creatures in a variety of postures.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Bagerhat

    Shait Gumbad Mosque

    Built in 1459 (the same year Khan Jahan Ali died), the famous Shait Gumbad Mosque is the largest and most magnificent traditional mosque in the country. Shait Gumbad means ‘the Temple with 60 Domes’ – a misnomer considering there are actually 81. This fortress-like structure has unusually thick walls, built in the tapering brick style, and is a hugely impressive sight. The overall architectural influence is unmistakably Turkish, and the arches within the main hall are a graceful exercise in geometry.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Rajshahi

    Varendra Research Museum

    This gem of a museum is tucked away in an unassuming building on a quiet street, but can easily take up half a day of your time. Founded in 1910 with the support of the maharaja of Dighapatia, it is managed by Rajshahi University and is the oldest museum in the country. Housed within is a fantastic and superbly curated collection of relics spanning the entire subcontinent, from the earliest civilisation of Mohenjodaro in Pakistan to local archaeological excavation sites.

  • Sights in Natore

    Natore Rajbari

    One of the oldest rajbaris in Bangladesh (dating from the early 1700s), the magnificent but dilapidated Natore Rajbari was once the nerve-centre of undivided Bengal's second-biggest zamindari (land revenue estate), which lost its sheen in the 19th century. The entire complex – moated by ponds and lined by centuries-old shady trees – is actually a series of seven rajbaris, four of which remain largely intact. One palace houses a police camp, another is a government office, while several others simply lie in ruins.

  • Sights in Srimangal & Around

    Lowacherra National Park

    This wonderful patch of tropical semi-evergreen forest, around 8km east of Srimangal, provides some lovely forest walks and also your best chance of seeing the endangered hoolock gibbons in the wild. These are the only apes in Bangladesh and there are only around 200 left in the country, some 60 of which live here. Protected as part of the government-run Nishorgo Network, the park now has walking trails as well as knowledgeable eco-guides who charge Tk 400 an hour.

  • Sights in Rangpur

    Tajhat Palace

    The flamboyant and delightfully maintained Tajhat Palace is arguably one of the finest rajbaris in Bangladesh. The palace was constructed in the 19th century by Manna Lal Ray, a Hindu trader who was forced to emigrate from Punjab and found his way to Rangpur. He eventually became a successful jeweller, acquired a lot of land, subsequently won the title of raja (landlord or ruler) and built this huge mansion. Local villagers believe there is treasure hidden in its walls.

  • Sights in Sona Masjid (Gaud)

    Khania Dighi Mosque

    About 750m beyond the turn-off for Darasbari Mosque, turn right at the bus stand and keep walking for around 250m until you see a sign directing you off to the right to this gorgeous single-domed mosque. Also known as Rajbibi Mosque, it was built in 1490 and is in excellent condition. It has some ornately decorated walls, embellished primarily with terracotta floral designs. The dome is particularly fascinating, and is in perfect architectural unison with the gracefully proportioned building.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Sadarghat

    Running calmly through the centre of Old Dhaka, the Buriganga River is the muddy artery of Dhaka and the very lifeblood of both this city and the nation. Exploring it from the deck of a small boat from Sadarghat (shod-or-ghat) is to see Bangladesh at its grittiest. The panorama of river life is fascinating. Triple-towered ferries leer over pint-sized canoes, and country boats bump against overladen barges with barely an inch of clearance above water.

  • Sights in Dhaka

    Shankharia Bazar

    Clouds of incense and a bursting paintbox of colours signal a welcome to so-called Hindu Street. Lined on either side with old houses, garlands of lurid orange marigolds, and dark doorways leading to matchbox-sized shops and workshops, this can be an extremely photogenic part of Old Dhaka, as the shankharis (Hindu artisans) , whose ancestors came here over 300 years ago, busy themselves creating kites, gravestones, wedding hats and bangles carved out of conch shells.

  • Sights in Sylhet

    Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal

    This fascinating and atmospheric shrine of the revered 14th-century Sufi saint Shah Jalal is one of Bangladesh's biggest pilgrimage sites. Housing a mosque (masjid) and the main tomb (mazar), the complex is accessed via an open staircase from the East Darga Gate entrance. Shah Jalal’s tomb is covered with rich brocade, and the space around it is illuminated with candles in the evenings, lending a magical feel. Non-Muslims can enter (dress conservatively). Shoes have to be removed at the steps.

  • Sights in Kushtia

    Shrine of Lalon Shah

    For both foreigners as well as Bangladeshi tourists, the white onion-domed shrine of musician and poet Lalon Shah is the main reason for visiting Kushtia. Lalon Shah is one of the most famous mystic personalities in Bangladesh, and the serene shrine is a fascinating peek into the spiritual side of Bangladeshi life. The shrine centres on the holy man’s tomb and that of his adopted parents, while around the perimeter of the shrine are the tombs of various local dignitaries.

  • Sights in Mahasthangarh

    Bashor Ghar

    Possibly the grandest of Mahasthangarh's historic sites, this lofty and multi-tiered red-brick pavilion dates back to around the 7th century, although it was excavated only about 80 years ago. Local legend describes it as the bashor ghar or wedding pavilion of Behula, the daughter of a rich Bengali trader, whose husband was tragically bitten by a snake on the very night of her wedding (presumably in this very pavilion) but later brought back to life by the goddess Manasa.

  • Sights in Dinajpur

    Ram Sagar

    Commissioned in 1750 by Raja Ramnath, a local landlord, this placid and expansive reservoir is nearly a kilometre long and sits at the heart of the Ramsagar National Park, a beautiful patch of forest on the outskirts of Dinajpur. Its banks are a perfect place for a daytime picnic – snack stalls by the lake whip up basic eats and stock soft drinks. Fishing permits (per day Tk 4000) are available on site, but you'll have to bring your own gear.

  • Sights in Puthia

    Shiva Temple

    Built in 1823, the towering Shiva Temple sits at the entrance to Puthia village, overlooking a pond. It’s an excellent example of the pancha-ratna (five-spire) Hindu style common in northern India. Unfortunately, many of the stone carvings and sculptures were disfigured during the 1971 Liberation War. The inside contains a huge black-stone phallic representation of Shiva. The arched corridors of the temple looking out to the pond can provide some interesting photo-ops, notwithstanding the reservoir's limpid and polluted waters.

  • Sights in Sona Masjid (Gaud)

    Chhoto Sona Masjid

    Built between 1493 and 1526, the well-preserved ‘Small Golden Mosque’ is oddly named, given that it’s actually jet black with just patches of terracotta brickwork. It’s a fine specimen of pre-Mughal architecture, the chief attraction being the superb decoration carved on the black-stone walls. On both the inner and outer walls, ornate stonework in shallow relief covers the surface. It also features an ornate women’s gallery, arched gateways and lavishly decorated mihrabs (niches facing Mecca). Buses from Rajshahi stop beside it.

  • Sights in Barisal

    Ferry Piers

    Particularly atmospheric in the evenings, when dramatically lit and boldly painted launches depart from adjoining ghats, the piers are a wonderful place to soak up the local riverine culture. Overseen by BIWTC (buy a ticket at the main gate leading to the ghats), the place transforms into a bustling confluence of humanity after dusk, as hundreds of people turn up with their belongings to board their vessels, and the piers throng with fruit-sellers, snack-vendors, tea-makers and boatmen all gearing up for business.

  • Sights in Bagerhat

    Tomb of Khan Jahan Ali

    A place of active worship, Khan Jahan Ali's Tomb is the only monument in Bagerhat that still retains its original cupolas (domed ceilings). The cenotaph at the entrance is covered with tiles of various colours and inscribed with Quranic verses, but it is usually covered with a red cloth embroidered with gold threads. The single-domed Dargah Mosque is enclosed within the same complex by a massive wall, with short towers at each corner and archways to the front and rear.

  • Sights in Puthia

    Govinda Temple

    Arguably the most startling monument in Puthia village is the Govinda Temple, located inside the palace, on the left-hand side of the inner courtyard. Erected between 1823 and 1895 by one of the maharanis of the Puthia estate, it’s a large, square structure with intricate terracotta designs embellishing the surface. Most of the terracotta panels depict scenes from the love affair between Radha and Krishna as told in the Hindu epics.

  • Sights in Khulna

    Madhu Kunj

    This well-kept building and garden complex was the family home of revered 19th-century Bengali poet Michael Madhusudan Dutt (1824–73), who is known to have introduced blank verse to Bengali poetry and is credited with some of the most intricate verses ever written in the language. The main mansion where he was born and grew up before moving to Kolkata for higher studies is now a museum of family memorabilia. The surrounding gardens and orchards are particularly photogenic.