The country's oldest archaeological site' Mahasthan , means a great place. Located at a distance of 18 lan. north of Bogra town on the Bogra-Rangpur highway, Mahasthangarh is an ancient archaeological site. Situated on the western bank of the river Karatoa, this spectacular site is an imposing landmark in the area having a fortified oblong enclosure measuring 5000 ft. by 4500 ft. with an average height of 15 ft. from the surrounding paddy fields beyond the fortified area. Other ancient ruins spread out there in a semicircle of about 8 lan. radius. Several isolated mounds, the local names of which are Govinda Bhita Temple, Khodai Pathar Mound, Mankalir Kunda, Parasuramer Bedi, Jiyat Kunda etc. surround the fortified city.
This 3rd century B.C. archaeological site is still held by the Hindus to be of great sanctity. Every year in mid-Aprilthousands of Hindu devotees gather here to oserve bathing ceremony in the river Karatoa.
The famous Chinese tourist Yahn-Chuang visited the Pundranagar in between 639 and 645 Century AD and it is known from his description that once Lord Buddha had come to this area and stayed for three months for delivering the message of religion.
The remains of the walls of Mahasthangarh show the site as having been once a fortified city. Its suburbs extended for miles and their impressive remains can be traced even today. There are plenty of ruins surrounding the massive area of Mahasthangarh. There is a big sacrifice temple on a Mound about 1.5 lan. south-west of Mahasthan which is called the Lakshminder's Medh of Gokul Medh. Lakshminder's Medh is associated with the legend of 'Behula' and 'Lakshminder'. There is a famous Bengali romantic folk-song called 'Behula-Lakshminder' which is very popular in Bangladesh. The height of this temple is 43 ft. from the plain land.
As in other sites of Bangladesh, many terracotta plaques have been found in Mahasthangarh. These plaques appear to have adorned the walls of a temple now completely ruined. The speciality of these plaques is that, they depict the story of the Ramayana. Each plaque depicts a particular scene and is labelled with a Sanskrit inscription of the late 7th century. This is so far unique in Bangladesh. Very recently, a new cultural dimension has been added by the discovery of Rouletted Ware at Mahasthan.
A visit to the museum at Mahasthangarh will open up a wide variety of antiquities, ranging from terracotta objects to gold ornaments, and coins dug up from the site. Also noteworthy are the shrines of Shah Sultan Bulkhi Mahisawar and Gokul Medh in the neighbourhood of Mahasthangarh.
Interested tourists may avail of package tours offered by Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation.
How to go
Comfortable AC and Non-AC coaches are available from Dhaka to Bogra. It takes only 3 hours by bus. It is very easy to go to Mahasthangarh by rickshaw or auto-rickshaw from Bogra town.
Where to stay
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation runs a very modem and luxurious Motel with restaurant in Bogra town. Besides, a number of private hotels, guest and rest-houses offer facilities to tourists. Names and addresses of some motels are as follows:
Parjatan Motel, Bogra
Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation
Sherpur Road, Banani, Bogra
Ph: 051-66753, 67024-7
Hotel Naz Garden
Tel: 051-66655,73888, 62468
Motel Safeway Intl (Pvt.) Ltd
Charmatha, Santahar Road, Bogra
Motel North Way
Chinese Restaurant & Residential
Hotel Latifpur Colony, Bogra-5800
1st April to 30th September
Thursday: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Break: 1 :00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. )
Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Break: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. )
1st October to 30th March
Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Break: 1 :00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.)
Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Break: 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.)
Note : The museum remains closed on Sunday and in all government holidays. The Ramadan time-table is from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a break from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. except Fridays.