The densely populated Bangladesh has had large and influential cities for millenia long. Country is rich with interesting archaeological heritage, such as:
- Remnants of viharas - Buddhist shrines and monasteries. Here are located ruins of the largest Buddhist monastery in the Indian subcontinent - Somapura Mahavihara, with 24 m tall pyramid.
- Ruins of ancient cities. Most of these landmarks are visually not too impressive but their history is: for example, Wari-Bateshwar ancient city could be the oldest city in Bengal region, it is approximately 2500 years old.
Not less interesting are the ancient Hindu temples and many local mosques which are very ornate.
- Baklai Falls - Chittagong. Approximately 113 m tall waterfall, one of the tallest in the country.
- Harinmari mango tree (Thakurgaon mango tree) - Rangpur. Unusually large mango tree (Mangifera sp.), reportedly the largest in the world.
- Madhabkunda waterfall - Sylhet. Approximately 60 m tall waterfall in picturesque location.
Man made landmarks
Ancient and historical cities
- Bhitagarh - Rangpur. Ruins of one of largest ancient cities south of Himalaya. Approximately 1,500 years ago it was city-state, important trade port. Ruins include possible largest Budhist Vihara in Bangladesh.
- Mahasthangarh - Rajshahi. Ruins of ancient capital of Pundravardhana, which was founded in the 3rd century BC or earlier. Now remain impressive fortifications which were in use until the 18th century AD as well as hundreds of mounds with remnants of ancient structures. Walls of city enclose an area 1,523 m by 1,371 m large. Ramparts are 11 - 13 m tall.
- Mosque City of Bagerhat - Khulna. Remnants of historical city which was built in the 15th century. This site contains more than 50 valuable monuments of Islamic architecture, such as Sixty Dome Mosque, mausoleum of Khan Jahan and others.
- Panam City - Dhaka. Part of Sonargaon - historical capital city. Panam City evolved in the late 19th century as a settlement of Hindu cloth merchants. The beautiful Ecclectic architecture of the city has been preserved although now it is mostly abandoned.
- Wari-Bateshwar ancient city - Dhaka. Remnants of ancient fortified city which existed at 450 BC. This is the earliest known city in Bengal region.
- Hajiganj Fort - Dhaka. Well preserved Mughal fort, built in the 17th century. Fort has corner bastions for cannons.
- Lalbagh Fort - Dhaka. Beautiful Mughal fort - palace, built in 1678. Works were abandoned.
- Ahsan Manzil - Dhaka. Large palace in Indo-Saracenic Revival style, built in 1872 for Dhaka Nawab family. Now the palace serves as a museum.
- Rose Garden Palace - Dhaka. Ornate mansion with garden, built in the late 19th century. Important historical place.
- Tajhat Palace - Rangpur. Large palace, built in the beginning of the 20th century for Maharaja Kumar Gopal Lal Roy. Now in the ornate premises of palace is located museum.
- Bagha Mosque - Rajshahi. Beautiful, ornate mosque, most likely built in 1523.
- Kusumba Mosque - Rajshahi. Ornate mosque, built in the 16th century. Structure is embellished with ornate stone carvings.
- Ronvijoypur Mosque - Khulna. Mosque with 11 m wide dome, the largest in Bangladesh. Most likely built in the 15th century.
- Sixty Dome Mosque - Khulna. Unusual, very large mosque with 81 domes, one of iconic buildings in Bangladesh. Constructed in 1442 - 1459.
Viharas - Buddhist monasteries and shrines
- Jagaddala Vihara - Rajshahi. Remains of Buddhist monastery not far from Somapura Mahavihara. Mound is 105 by 85 m large. Monastery was founded in the 11th - 12th century AD.
- Halud Vihara - Rajshahi. Remnants of Buddhist vihara, which are up to 8 m high and 30 m wide. This shrine was built in the 8th century AD.
- Shalban Vihara - Chittagong. This large Buddhist monastery was built in the 7th century AD at the ancient capital Devaparvata. Once important centre of Buddhist learning, now in ruins. In the vicinities are ruins of other ancient Buddhist monasteries.
- Somapura Mahavihara (Paharpur Vihara) - Rajshahi. Ruins of enormous (largest in Indian subcontinent), spectacular Buddhist monastery. This monastery was built in the 8th century AD and was one of the great teaching centres in ancient India. Pyramid shaped stupa in the centre of building is 24 m tall. Valuable terracotta sculptures.
- Kantajew Temple - Rangpur. Gorgeous Hindu temple, built in the early 18th century. The ornate facade and other details represent one of the highest achievements in terracotta architecture.
- Puthia Temple Complex - Rajshahi. Largest group of historical Hindu temples in the country, built in the 17th - 19th century. Some of the most beautiful are the elaborate terracotta temples: Pancharatna Gobinda Temple (middle of the 19th century), Bhubaneshwar Shiva Temple (1823) and others.
Other man made landmarks
- Bhimer Jangal - Rajshahi. Up to 6 m tall embankment, at least 50 km long. It most likely was a protection against the floods but possibly also a fortification built around the 11th - 13th century AD.
- Jaintapur megaliths - Sylhet. Group of megalithic burials - 25 menhirs and 32 dolmens (Jainteshvari Temple group, Changil series, Khasi Village series). Rather many are undamaged. These megaliths most likely were created by ancient Khassi around 1300 BC.
- Jatiyo Sangsad Bhaban - Dhaka. Premises of the Parliament of Bangladesh, designed by Louis Kahn and built in 1982. Its design represents one of the most significant developments in the architecture over the last decades.
List of described attractions by divisions
|Mahasthangarh||Ancient cities and towns, Abandoned cities and towns, Fortified settlements, Museums|
Map of Bangladesh
True wonder of the ancient past of Bangladesh is Mahasthangarh. This enormous city was founded at 300 BC or even earlier and served as a capital of Pundravardhana state.
This updated guidebook, with a focus on responsible tourism, offers greater coverage than any other to the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and to the world's largest mangrove forest at the Sundarbans. Personal insights guide travelers to aspects of the country almost unknown to visitors – dolphin and whale watching, winter bird-watching, and golden Bengal's silk and archaeological highlights.
Bangladesh is a new name for an old land whose history is little known to the wider world. A country chiefly famous in the West for media images of poverty, underdevelopment, and natural disasters, Bangladesh did not exist as an independent state until 1971. Willem van Schendel's history reveals the country's vibrant, colourful past and its diverse culture as it navigates the extraordinary twists and turns that have created modern Bangladesh.