North Bengal : Ancient Treasures Golden Bengal
Bangladesh’s rich heritage is visually represented most strikingly in greater North Bengal. Remains of ancient Buddhist monasteries, intricately decorated temples and mosques are reminders of our country’s diverse cultures and history.
Our North Bengal Heritage Tours combine historical sites with the popular trademarks.
Mahasthangarh is the oldest known city in Bangladesh, dating back to at least the 3rd century BC, and is located only 14 km from Bogra town. Today the archaeological site consists mainly of foundations and hillocks hinting at the past glory. In the Mahasthangarh Site Museum, an interesting collection of recovered pieces are on display. The highlights are the statues of Hindu Gods, terracotta plaques and some bronze statues mostly found in monasteries from the Pala period.
The prosperous university town of Rajshahi is famous for its sericulture (silk production). Enjoying a stroll along the mighty Padma River and watching the sunset is a favorite pastime of residents and visitors. We arrange tours of a local silk factory and the Varendra Research Museum, the oldest museum in the country. It was founded in 1910 with the support of the Maharaja of Dighapatia. The predominantly British style building has some interesting Hindu-Buddhist features. The museum has artifacts from all over the subcontinents including some rare examples from the ancient city of Mohenjodaro in Pakistan and a great collection of local Hindu sculpture. There is also a Martyr’s Memorial Museum in Rajshahi University that is a reminder of the dreadful days of the liberation war. Among many things, there are also the deed papers of surrender by Pakistani forces. A block southeast of Rajshahi Government College, on a high bank of Padma River, is a historic structure known as Baro Kuthi. It is one of the last remaining examples of the Indigo Factories (Neel Kuthi) that once flourished in the region. The place has apparently been the reminder of countless crimes during the British rule. Besides, a number of buildings from the Raj era are situated in Rajshahi town, now converted into colleges and schools.
One hours drive from Rajshahi or a one and a half hours drive from Bogra is the small town of Natore. Here you can visit the elegant Natore Rajbari with its fanciful gardens and temple-hemmed ponds, and the government building called Uttara Gano Bhaban, previously known as Dighapatia Palace. The building was once the palace of the Maharaja of Dighapatia, the region’s governor. Now it serves as the president’s official residences. Situated 3km north of town, off the road to Bogra, the beautifully maintained complex occupies about 15 hectares of land. The magnificent Natore Rajbari is a series of seven rajbaris, four of which remain largely intact. Natore Rajbari is at the Northern edge of the town. Combined with Puthia, Natore is an enchanting day trip from either Rajshahi or Bogra.
On the way from Rajshahi to Natore is the delightful little village of Puthia. It has the largest number of historically important Hindu structures in Bangladesh and one of the country’s finest old Rajbaris. The Shiva Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Bangladesh, while the Govinda Temple in the Rajbari courtyard is decorated with intricate terracotta designs. This charming town should not be missed.
A site of great historical importance, Gaud has more mosques than any area in Bangladesh except Bagerhaat. It is more than 100 km west of Rajshahi right on the western border of Bangladesh. Some of its sights are in Bangladesh and some in India. The superbly decorated Chhota Sona Masjid (Small Golden Mosque) is only one of the many historic mosques in this area. Built between 1493 and 1526, the well-preserved mosque is actually jet black with patches of terracotta brickwork. It is a fine specimen of pre-Mughal architecture, the chief attraction the superb decoration carved on the black-stone walls, both on the inner and the other sides.
Dating from the 8th century AD, the Somapuri Vihara at Paharpur was once the largest Buddhist monastery in the south of the Himalayas. It is considered the most impressive and important archaeological site in Bangladesh. It is in the shape of a large quadrangle covering 11 hectares, with monks’ cells making up the walls and enclosing a courtyard. The 20m high remains of a stupa rise from the center of the courtyard. Paharpur village is located in Jaipurhat. It takes about 2 hours to drive from Bogra to Paharpur.
The Dinajpur Rajbari (18th century) with its adjoining Krishna temple is one of the most picturesque historic buildings in North Bengal. It is located about 4 km northeast of central Dinajpur.
The Kantajees Temple (also known as Kantanagar Temple) is the most spectacular Hindu temple and one of the most beautiful monuments in Bangladesh. Decorated with infinite panels of intricately sculpted terracotta plaques, this is the county’s finest example of the terracotta style and should not be missed. It was built in 1752 by Pran Nath, a renowned maharaja from Dinajpur.
The largest man-made pond of Ramsagar invites visitors from far and near. In winter huge numbers of migratory birds visit the Ramsagar National Park.
Rangpur is home to several public buildings of the Raj era, including the Carmichael College and Tajhat Palace. Here you can also meet members of the Kochi ethnic group, an Indo-Tibetan people related to the plains tribes of Assam.
The tajhat palace is one of the finest rajbaris in Bangladesh. It is similar to Ahsan Manzil in Dhaka. During the period of 1982-1991, the palace was used by the High Court Division of Bangladesh Supreme court. Now it is converted into a museum with old manuscripts and findings from Paharpur and Mahasthangarh.
1 km south of Tajhat palace is the “Kali Mondir” or Kali temple. This delightful architectural folly of Kali Temple is modeled on a Florentine dome. Carmichael College is one of the largest in the country in terms of both area and student enrolment. Situated in the outskirts of the town, the college was established in 1916. Similar to Curzon Hall of Dhaka University and with a frontage of about 100m, it is a great fusion of classical British and Mughal architecture.
For all activities we strongly recommend you to use the assistance of a local guide. This will enhance your experience and ensure your safety.
When visiting, we request you to follow these rules:
Respect the local traditions and social rules at all times.
Never photograph people without their permission.
Do not encourage the illegal wildlife trade by buying endangered animals or animal products.
Do not litter.
Do not disturb the wildlife and refrain from picking flowers, plants or fruits.