While in Naogaon teaching a photography course, Jacob took his class to Paharpur, otherwise known as Somapura Mahavihara (the Great Monastery). This Buddhist Monastery and intellectual center was made in the seventh century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the locals, this Vihara is ” দেখার কিচ্ছু নেই” (there’s nothing to see) but we found the opposite to be true!
The site is very large, with 177 monastery cells like a wall around the stupas, kitchen, viharas temples, and other buildings. During Buddhism’s apex in Bangladesh, many Tibetan monks traveled back and forth to Paharpur, and many famous monks lived there. Around 11th Century, the Vanga Army (ancient Bengalis) burnt the monastery down and in the 13th Century it was abandoned.
Around the stupas there are terracotta tiles depicting Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain motifs — animals, flowers, gods etc. Some of the tiles have been duplicated and repaired.
Now Elias didn’t grasp the archeological significance of Paharpur, but he did like to see the baby goats climbing on the ruins. These goats still had their dried umbilical cords on! For being so young, their were sure adventurous!
The museum did not allow photography, which was a shame. Not only were there beautiful old motifs, but there was a magnificent Vishnu statue found in Bogra. Bethany, save your money and come visit! We’ll take you there and you can draw the whole thing!
Come visit us, friends! And we’ll go back for another visit, this time in the afternoon, armed with water, a guide and plenty of time!