The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis makes a one-day visit to Puthia and the exceptional historical sites near Rajshahi and Bogra, Bangladesh

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 03•13

Shiva Temple in Puthia

In addition to being a great respite from the craziness of Dhaka, the city of Rajshahi, seven hours to the west by train, is close to a number of significant historical sites, which lie within the area of Rajshahi to the west, and Bogra to the east. To best see them, hire a car and driver from your hotel, and make a day out of it. Puthia is the most important of them, but you’ll also enjoy the rajbaris (old palaces) of Natore, the ruins of Mahasthangarh, and the Somapuri Vihara temple of Paharpur. The best restaurant in the area, incidentally, is just outside Bogra, at the Naz Garden Hotel, and highly recommended for a lunch stop. Assuming you leave in the early morning from Rajshahi, you’d take the following route. 

Puthia’s Govinda Temple

The city of Puthia is the site of several temples of historical importance, and shouldn’t be missed during your stay in Bangladesh. The first structure you’ll reach id the Shiva Temple, which sits pondside along the road. Here, ask to meet the caretaker, Mr. Bishwana. He’s a real character, posing as a dancer in front of any and all the structures at the Puthia site. He also has a passion for them all and will show you intricacies you’d probably miss on your own. The highlight of the site is usually listed as the Govinda Temple, with hundreds of red-hued terra cotta panels depicting scenes from the love affair of Krishna and Radha. It’s striking. But our favorite was the smaller, and to our eyes more intricate, Annika temple, with lovely terra cotta panels detailing apsara dancers. Mr. Bishwana has the keys to everything, and leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that you see everything.  

Natore’s Boro Torof rajbari

Next on your agenda is the town of Natore, where you’ll visit the Natore Rajbari, a fine complex of dilapidated palaces and houses that retain their charm and beauty despite their semi-ruined state. The main palace is called Boro Torof, built in the mid-1700s. At least one of the other buildings of note sits alongside a pond, and provides wonderful views from across the water.

The citadel at masthangarh

Your third stop is the large archaeological site at Mahasthangarh, where you may walk the walls of the 2 square km citadel, in what remains of the oldest identified city in Bangladesh, dating from the 3rd century BCE. There is a small onsite museum. 

Somapuri Vihara, in Paharpur

The town of Paharpur lies approximately 50 km northwest of the city of Bogra, and here you’ll visit the amazing 60 foot high stupa of Somapuri Vihara, which now somewhat resembles an Egyptian stepped pyramid. The terracotta tiles surrounding the base are notable, and continue on the succeeding tier. There are a number of other structures on the site, including more than 170 monastic cells which enclose the courtyard. If you originally left on your day tour from Rajshahi, this will be your last stop, and you very well may reach it at dusk, where the structure just oozes atmosphere. A small museum is onsite.

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