Sundarbans National Park

The Sundarbans National Park is a National ParkTiger Reserve, and a Biosphere Reserve in West BengalIndia. It is part of the Sundarbans on the Ganges Delta, and adjacent to the Sundarban Reserve Forest in Bangladesh. The delta is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves for the Bengal tiger. It is also home to a variety of bird, reptile and invertebratespecies, including the salt-water crocodile. The present Sundarban National Park was declared as the core area of Sundarban Tiger Reserve in 1973 and a wildlife sanctuary in 1977. On 4 May 1984 it was declared a National Park. It is a UNESCO world heritage site inscribed in 1987,and it has been designated as a Ramsar site since 2019. It is considered as a World Network of Biosphere Reserve (Man and Biosphere Reserve) from 2001.
The first Forest Management Division to have jurisdiction over the Sundarbans was established in 1869. In 1875 a large portion of the mangrove forests was declared as reserved forests under the Forest Act, 1865 (Act VIII of 1865). The remaining portions of the forests were declared a reserve forest the following year and the forest, which was so far administered by the civil administration district, was placed under the control of the Forest Department. A Forest Division, which is the basic forest management and administration unit, was created in 1879 with the headquarters in Khulna, Bangladesh. The first management plan was written for the period 1893–98.
In 1911, it was described as a tract of unexamined waste country and was excluded from the census. It then stretched for about 266 kilometres (165 mi) from the mouth of the Hugli to the mouth of the Meghna river and was bordered inland by the three settled districts of the 24 parganas, Khulna and Bakerganj. The total area (including water) was estimated at 16,900 square kilometres (6,526 sq mi). It was a water-logged jungle, in which tigers and other wild beasts abounded. Attempts at reclamation had not been very successful. The Sundarbans was everywhere intersected by river channels and creeks, some of which afforded water communication throughout the Bengal region both for steamers and for native ships. The maximum part of the delta is located in Bangladesh.


·         1Administration
·         2Geography
o    2.1Climate
o    2.2Eco-geography, rivers and watercourses
o    2.3Mudflats
§  2.3.1Flora and fauna
§  2.3.2Flora
§  2.3.3Fauna
§  2.3.4Avifauna
§  2.3.5Aquatic fauna
§  2.3.6Reptiles
§  2.3.7Endangered species
§  2.3.8Marine mammals
·         3Management and special projects
o    3.1Constraints
·         4Park-specific information
·         5Sunderban Tiger Reserve
o    5.1Background
o    5.2Damage from Cyclone Aila
o    5.3Challenges
·         6Transport
·         7Ecosystem valuation
·         8See also
·         9References


The Directorate of Forest is responsible for the administration and management of Sundarban. The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Wildlife & Bio-Diversity & ex-officio Chief Wildlife Warden, West Bengal, is the senior most executive officer looking over the administration of the park. The Chief Conservator of Forests (South) & Director, Sundarban Biosphere Reserve is the administrative head of the park at the local level and is assisted by a deputy field director and an assistant field director. The park area is divided into two ranges, overseen by range forest officers. Each range is further sub-divided into beats. The park also has floating watch stations and camps to protect the property from poachers.
The park receives financial aid from the state government as well as the Ministry of Environment and Forests under various plan and non-plan budgets. Additional funding is received under the Project Tiger from the Central Government. In 2001, a grant of US $20,000 was received as a preparatory assistance for promotion between India and Bangladesh from the World Heritage Fund.


Sundarban National Park is located in between 21° 432′ – 21° 55′ N latitude and between 88° 42′ – 89° 04′ E longitude. The average altitude of the park is 7.5 m above sea level. 54 small islands compose the park and several distributaries of the Ganges River intersect it.


The average minimum and maximum temperature is 20 °C and 48 °C respectively. Rainfall is heavy with humidity as high as 80% as it is close to the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon lasts from mid-June to mid-September. Prevailing wind is from the north and north-east from October to mid-March and south west westerlies prevails from mid-March to September. Storms which sometimes develop into cyclones are common during the months of May and October.

Eco-geography, rivers and watercourses:

Seven main rivers and innumerable watercourses form a network of channels at this estuarine delta. All the rivers have a southward course towards the sea. The eco-geography of this area is totally dependent on the tidal effect of two flow tides and two ebb tides occurring within 24 hours with a tidal range of 3–5 m and up to 8 m in normal spring tide, inundating the whole of Sunderban in varying depths. The tidal action deposits silts back on the channels and raising the bed, it forms new islands and creeks contributing to uncertain geomorphology. There is a great natural depression called "Swatch of No Ground" in the Bay of Bengal between 21°00' to 21°22' latitude where, the depth of water changes suddenly from 20 m to 500 m. This mysterious depression pushes back the silts towards south and/or further east to form new islands.


The Sunderban mudflats are found at the estuary and on the deltaic islands where low velocity of river and tidal current occurs. The flats are exposed in low tides and submerged in high tides, thus being changed morphologically even in one tidal cycle. The interior parts of the mudflats are the right environment for mangroves.
There are a number of mudflats outside the Sundarbans National Park is a mudflat that have the potential to be tourist spots in the Sundarbans. One can visit them and enjoy the beauty of the place during low tide. If one is lucky, one can see Sea Anemones, Horseshoe crab (Nearing extinction)and small octopus.

Flora and fauna

The coastal active delta of Sunderban at the mouth of Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh, having a complex geomorphologic and hydrological character with climatic hazards, has a vast area of mangrove forests with a variety of flora and diverse fauna in a unique ecosystem. The natural environment and coastal ecosystem of this Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site is under threat of physical disaster due to unscientific and excessive human interferences. Conservation and environmental management plan for safeguarding this unique coastal ecology and ecosystem is urgently required.


Sundarban has achieved its name from the Sundari Trees. It is the most exquisite variety of tree that are found in this area, a special kind of Mangrove tree. It has specialised roots called pneumatophore which emerge above ground and help in gaseous exchange i.e. respiration. During the rainy season when the entire forest is waterlogged, the spikes rising from the ground has their peak in the air and helps in the respiration process.


The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 400 tigers. The royal Bengal tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are famous for their man-eating tendencies. Tigers can be seen on the river banks sunbathing between November and February. Apart from the Bengal tigerFishing catsLeopard catsMacaquesWild boarIndian grey mongooseFoxJungle catFlying foxPangolinChital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.


Aquatic fauna


The Sundarbans National Park houses a large number of reptiles as well, including estuarine crocodileschameleonsmonitor lizardsturtles, including olive ridleyhawksbill, and green turtles, and snakes, including pythonking cobrarat snakeRussell's viperdog faced water snakecheckered keelback, and common krait.

Endangered species

Marine mammals

The proposed Sundarbans Cetacean Diversity Protected Area, includes the coastal waters off Sundarbans that host critical habitats for endangered cetaceans;resident groups of Bryde's whales, a newly rediscovered critical population of Irrawaddy dolphins,Ganges River dolphins, and Chinese white dolphinsFinless porpoisesIndo-Pacific bottlenose dolphinsspinner dolphins, and pantropical spotted dolphins are also found in this area while false killer whales and rough-toothed dolphins are rarer.

Management and special projects

The Bengal Tiger is the commonly found species in the park. Having protection since its creation, the core area is free from all human disturbances such as collection of wood, honey, fishing, and other forest products. However, in the buffer area, these activities are permitted in limited form. The forest staff, using motorboats and launches, protect the park from illegal poaching and theft. Forest offices and camps are located at several important parts of the park. Under the supervision of a range officer, two or three experienced workers manage anti-poaching camps.

Habitat of wildlife is maintained through eco-conservation, eco-development, training, education and research. Ten Forest Protection Committees and 14 Eco-development Committees have been formed in the fringe of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve to help in this regard. Seminars, workshops and awareness camps are organised in the vicinity of park to educate the people on eco-conservation, eco-development and such other issues. Mangrove and other plants are planted in the fringe area to meet the local need of fuel wood for about 1000 villages and to conserve the buffer area. Conservation of soil is done to maintain the ecological balance. Several sweet water ponds have been dug up inside the park to provide drinking water for the wild animals.

Controlling man-eating tigers is another major activity. The number of casualties has been reduced from 40 to 10 per year. The reduction in number of casualties is a result of strict control over the movement of the people inside the tiger reserve, alternative income generation and awareness building among people. It is also believed that due to use of human masks and electric human dummies the tigers will stay away from the people. Straying of tigers into nearby villages is prevented through measures such as nylon net fencing and solar illumination of villages. The youths of the villages are given training in controlling the straying of tigers into the villages.

The Mangrove Interpretation Centre is established at Sajnekhali to make the local people and tourists aware of the importance of conservation of nature in general and specially the mangrove ecosystems.


Though protection exists in the park, there are a few loopholes. The geographical topography with hostile terrain cris-crossed by several rivers and their tributaries, long international border with Bangladesh, fishing trawlers and launches enables poaching and the cutting of wood, affecting the mangrove forests. Lack of staff, infrastructure and lack of funds exacerbate the situation.

Park-specific information 

The only means of travelling the park is to by boat, down the various lanes formed by the many flowing rivers. Local boats or vessels operated by the West Bengal Tourism Development Corporation, namely M.V. Chitrarekha and M.V. Sarbajaya. Whereas accommodation on land and cruise safari's are provided by Sunderban Tiger Camp the only luxury government approved resort in the region.Apart from viewing the wildlife from boat safaris, visitors also visit the Bhagatpur Crocodile Project, a crocodile breeding farm, Sagar IslandJambudweep, Sudhanyakali watchtower, Buriidabri Tiger Project, Netidhopani Watchtower, Haliday IslandKanak, and Sajnekhali Bird Sanctuary .

Sunderban Tiger Reserve


The Sunderban Tiger Reserve is located in South 24 Paraganas, West Bengal and has a total geographical area of 2585 km2 with 1437.4 km2 consisting of populated areas and forest covering 1474 km2. Sunderban landscape is continuous with the mangrove habitat in Bangladesh.
Sunderban mangroves form part of the subcontinent's largest mangrove system with a tiger population in a distinct ecological setting. These forests have salt water crocodiles, estuarine and marine turtles and a number of bird species. Besides tiger, the reserve has fishing cat, spotted deer, rhesus monkey and wild pigs.
The Sunderban is isolated with no forest connection to other tiger-occupied main land. Hence, there is heavy biotic pressure for forest resources. On average 500 quintals of honey and 30 quintals of wax are collected each year by local people under licence from Forest Department. The habitat is traversed by many narrow tidal channels forming small to large islands. Tigers readily cross these islands and man-tiger interactions are common.
The estimation of tiger population in Sunderban, as a part of the all India tiger estimation using the refined methodology, could not be carried out owing to the unique habitat and obliteration of evidences due to high and low tides. Phase-I data collection has been completed and process is on for tiger estimation using a combination of radio telemetry and pugmark deposition rate from known tigers.

Damage from Cyclone Aila

 Cyclone Aila struck Sunderban on 25 May 2009, causing damage to field camps and fringe villages bordering the reserve. Breaches in the embankments on the village side have caused large scale flooding, leaving lakhs of people marooned in the area. The field camps were under 12 to 15 feet of water for around seven hours, resulting in soil erosion and damage to staff quarters, generators and bamboo pilling. There was a report of a tiger wandering inside an abandoned cattle shed in a village, which was captured and released back in the wild. No tiger death has been reported, apart from mortality of two spotted deer. Several NGOs have been involved in the relief operation.
The Forest Department of the State has constituted a Committee and has assessed a damage of almost Rs. 11150,000. Central assistance amounting to Rs. 10 million under Project Tiger has been provided to the State for restoring the damage done to infrastructure.


The Sunderban Tiger Reserve has several challenges to its future operations. Due to wandering tigers, man-tiger conflict continues to be an issue. Sunderban tigers hunt humans, and it is estimated that over a thousand of the local people have been killed by tigers over the past four decades. An estimation of the number of tigers present in the reserve using the refined method has not yet been completed. A tiger conservation plan is awaited as are constitutions for the State level Steering Committee under the Chairmanship of the Chief Minister and the reserve-specific Tiger Conservation Foundation.


Air: Sundarban National Park is located 140 km away from Kolkata Airport (also known as Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Airport and Dum Dum Airport).

Rail: The nearest Railway station of Sundarban National Park is Canning Railway station which is located 29 km far from the Gate way of Sundarban (i.e. Godhkhali).

Road: Sundarban National Park is well connected with Kolkata – Basanti Highway.

Ecosystem valuation 

An economic assessment study of Sundarbans estimated that the tiger reserve provides flow benefits worth 12.8 billion rupees (0.50 lakh / hectare) annually. Important ecosystem services include nursery function (5.17 billion), gene-pool protection (2.87 billion year), provisioning of fish (1.6 billion) and waste assimilation services (1.5 billion). The study also mentioned about services such as generation of employment for local communities (36 million), moderation of cyclonic storms (275 million year), provision of habitat and refugia for wildlife (360 million) and sequestration of carbon (462 million).

Bangladesh National Museum

Bangladesh National Museum: A number of illustrations of Bangladeshi history, tradition and culture are accommodated in Bangladesh National Museum. This museum preserves the symbols of all ages that Bangladesh passed through, from the ancient period to the present days. This organization is engaged in familiarizing the new generations with various elements of our history and tradition as well as in collection, preservation, exhibition and investigation of these elements. The present National Museum first came to light as Dhaka Museum. Lord Kar Mikel, the then Governor of Bengal, inaugurated this museum in a room of Dhaka Medical College in the year 1913.  In the year 1970, Pakistan government changed the format of Dhaka Museum Committee; they circulated the Dhaka Museum Board of Trustees Ordinance and converted the body into a constitutional Institution. Afterwards, during 1983, the government of Bangladesh declared the museum as Bangladesh National Museum. At present, this institution is controlled and supervised by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs.   
It is located on the South side of Bangabondhu Sheikh Muzib Medical University at Shahbag area in the Capital Dhaka.

Visiting hours:

This museum is open for all throughout the week except Thursday. Much crowd is seen here on weekly holidays and National days. Three different visiting hours are scheduled in three different seasons in a year. These seasons are Summer, Winter and the month of Holy Ramadan. The museum remains open as per the following schedule:
In the Summer (April- September): Saturday-Wednesday- 10.30a.m.-05.30p.m.
In the Winter(October- March)    : Saturday-Wednesday-09.30a.m.-04.30p.m.
                             Friday- 03.00p.m.-08.00p.m.
In the Holy month of Ramadan     : Saturday-Wednesday-09.30a.m.-03.00p.m.


You have to collect your ticket from the counter beforehand. The counter is just beside the main gate.

Price of Tickets:

for 3-12, tk 5/person
for above 12,tk10/person
for Foreigners,tk75/person
Students and children are allowed to visit the museum for free during Pohela Boishakh(1st day of the Bangla Year),26th March and 21st February.

Entry and Exit, Guide service, things to do:

You can take the help of a guide while entering into the museum. The museum authority have engaged 7 guides for the visitors' convenience. You have to leave your bags and other things to the security men in the entry point. Carrying camera and food is prohibited; and you must switch off your cell phones inside the museum.
The museum has one way entry and exit.

Things to see inside and around:

The museum premises is surrounded by different types of trees. On both sides of the entrance of the building there are two historical canons. Just after entering into the 4 storied building, you can see the aesthetic Novera sculpture. On the ground floor, there are museum office, hall room and other necessary establishments. On the 1st, 2nd and 3rd floor, all historical objects are preserved and open for display.
On the 1st floor, visitors will get a very transparent view on entire Bangladesh. Here, you can see the Bangladeshi map, trees, animals, tribal life, rocks, minerals, the Sunder bans and various coins and architectures of ancient ages.
On the 2nd floor, there are Bangladeshi weapons, porcelain handicrafts, puppets and musical instruments, clothes and apparels, embroidered bed cover, manuscripts, contemporary arts and traditional Bangladesh. Here, you will also get an idea about world civilization and fine arts.
On the 3rd floor, portraits of world's renowned personalities, world’s fine arts and world civilization are displayed

Quality and management of preservation:

There are some very valuable tokens in the museum which cannot be collected again. These tokens are preserved in the storeroom with much care; sufficient security people are engaged in this purpose.


The museum gallery is divided in four segments:
  • Natural history
  • Mankinds and Arts
  • History and Classic Artistry
  • Contemporary Artistry and World Civilization

1.Natural History:

This part of the gallery is decorated with the history of plants and trees, diversity of Animal kingdom and Insects etc.

 2.Mankinds and Arts:

This part of the gallery accommodates traditional Bengali clothes and apparels, religious festivals, customs and rituals, ornaments and other relics of ancient Bengal etc.

3.History and Classic Artistry:

This part of the gallery is decorated with the history of our great liberation war and language movement and some other archaeological relics.

4.Contemporary Artistry and World Civilization:

Creations of the great artists like the Shilpacharjjo(Master of Arts) Joynul Abedin, Potua(the Painter) Kamrul Hasan and S.M.Sultan are collected and displayed in this part. Besides, there are illustrations of Chinese, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Egyptian and Iranian cultures.

Competitions based on Special days, Opportunity of Group visit: 

On the National days the National Museum authority organizes competitions on painting, composition, recitation and handwriting specially based on the theme of those days. Competitions are open for students from Play group to Class-X.
Students of schools, colleges or any other institutions can get the opportunity to have a group visit to the museum through an application to the museum authority; if required, the authority offers a free visit.

Auditorium, Library and Canteen:

The museum auditorium can be hired for arranging different kinds of meetings,seminars etc. The auditorium has three rooms. The rent of the large room is tk14000/day while rent of the smaller ones ranges from tk5000-tk7000/day.
The museum has its own library on the first floor. 30000 to 40000 books are over there. These books are a great help to the researchers. The museum canteen is located on the South side of the staircase of the ground floor. Here you can have tea, coffee and biscuits, though at a higher price.

Lifts, Parking and Fire safety:

There are 2 staircases and 3 lifts in this 4-storied building. Lifts are only for the elderly and V.I.P.people. On the south side of the building, there is a parking lot which can. accommodate 120 vehicles. No charge is applicable for parking. Each floor of this museum has fire extinguishing system and there is adequate manpower for operations

Mahasthangarh History

Mahasthangarh (Bengaliমহাস্থানগড় Môhasthangôṛ) is one of the earliest urban archaeological sites so far discovered in Bangladesh. The village Mahasthan in Shibganj thana of Bogra District contains the remains of an ancient city which was called Pundranagara or Paundravardhanapura in the territory of Pundravardhana.limestone slab bearing six lines in Prakrit in Brahmi script, discovered in 1931, dates Mahasthangarh to at least the 3rd century BC.The fortified area was in use until the 18th century AD.


Mahasthan means a place that has excellent sanctity and garh means fort. Mahasthan was first mentioned in a Sanskrit text of the 13th century entitled Vallalcharita. It is also mentioned in an anonymous text Karatoya mahatmya, circumstantially placed in 12th–13th century. The same text also mentions two more names to mean the same place – Pundrakshetra, land of the Pundras, and Pundranagara, city of the Pundras. In 1685, an administrative decree mentioned the place as Mastangarh, a mixture of Sanskrit and Persian meaning fortified place of an auspicious personage. Subsequent discoveries have confirmed that the earlier name was Pundranagara or Paundravardhanapura, and that the present name of Mahasthangarh is of later origin.


Mahasthangarh (Pundranagar), the ancient capital of Pundravardhana is located 11 km (6.8 mi) north of Bogra on the Bogra-Rangpurhighway, with a feeder road (running along the eastern side of the ramparts of the citadel for 1.5 km) leading to Jahajghata and site museum.Buses are available for Bogra from Dhaka and take 4½ hours for the journey via Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge across the Jamuna River. Buses are available from Bogra to Mahasthangarh. Rickshaws are available for local movement. Hired transport is available at Dhaka/ Bogra. Accommodation is available at Bogra.When travelling in a hired car, one can return to Dhaka the same day, unless somebody has a plan to visit Somapura Mahavihara at Paharpur in the district of Naogaon and other places, or engage in a detailed study.
It is believed that the location for the city in the area was decided upon because it is one of the highest areas in Bangladesh. The land in the region is almost 36 metres (118 ft) above sea level, whereas Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is around 6 metres (20 ft) above sea level. Another reason for choosing this place was the position and size of the Karatoya, which as recently as in the 13th century was three times wider than Ganges.
Mahasthangarh stands on the red soil of the Barind Tract which is slightly elevated within the largely alluvium area. The elevation of 15 to 25 metres above the surrounding areas makes it a relatively flood free physiographic unit.


Several personalities contributed to the discovery and identification of the ruins at Mahasthangarh. Francis Buchanan Hamilton was the first to locate and visit Mahasthangarh in 1808, C.J.O'Donnell, E.V.Westmacott, and Beveridge followed. Alexander Cunningham was the first to identify the place as the capital of Pundravardhana. He visited the site in 1879.


The citadel (see map alongside), the fortified heart of the ancient city, is rectangular in plan, measuring roughly 1.523 kilometres (0.946 mi) long from north to south, and 1.371 kilometres (0.852 mi) from east to west, with high and wide ramparts in all its wings. Area of the citadel is approximately 185 ha.[8] The Karatoya, once a mighty river but now a small stream, flows on its east.
Till the 1920s, when excavations started, the inside of the citadel was higher than the surrounding areas by over 4 metres and was dotted with several straggling elevated pieces of land. The rampart looked like a jungle clad mud rampart with forced openings at several points. The rampart was 11–13 metres (36–43 ft) higher than the surrounding area. At its south-east corner stood a mazhar (holy tomb). A later day mosque (built in 1718–19) was also there.
At present there are several mounds and structural vestiges inside the fortifications. Of these a few of note are: Jiat Kunda (well which, according to legends, has life giving power), Mankalir Dhap (place consecrated to Mankali), Parasuramer Basgriha (palace of a king named Parasuram), Bairagir Bhita (palace of a female anchorite), Khodar Pathar Bhita (place of stone bestowed by God), and Munir Ghon (a bastion). There are some gateways at different points: Kata Duar (in the north), Dorab Shah Toran (in the east), Burir Fatak (in the south), and Tamra Dawaza (in the west)At the north-eastern corner there is a flight of steps (a later addition) that goes by the name of Jahajghata. A little beyond Jahajghata and on the banks of the Karatoya is Govinda Bhita (a temple dedicated to Govinda). In front of it is the site museum, displaying some of the representative findings. Beside it is a rest house.

Suburb of the citadel

Besides the fortified area, there are around a hundred mounds spread over an area with a radius of 9 km. (See map alongside).

Excavated mounds:

1.   Gobhindo Bhita, a temple close to the north-eastern corner of the citadel
2.   Khulnar Dhap, a temple 1 km north of the citadel
1.   Mangalkot, a temple 400m south of Khulnar Dhap
2.   Godaibari Dhap, a temple 1 km south of Khulnar Dhap
3.   Totaram Panditer Dhap, a monastery 4 km north-west of the citadel
4.   Noropotir Dhap (Vashu Bihara), a group of monasteries 1 km north-west of Totaram Ponditer Dhap (said to be the place where Po-shi-po Bihara mentioned by Xuanzang (Hieun Tsang) was located)
5.   Gokul Medh (Lokhindorer Bashor Ghor), a temple 3 km south of the citadel
6.   Shkonder Dhap, a temple 2 km south-east of Gokul Medh

Major unexcavated mounds:

1.   Shiladebir Ghat
2.   Chunoru Dighi Dhap
3.   Kaibilki Dhap
4.   Juraintala
5.   Poroshuramer Shobhabati
6.   Balai Dhap
7.   Prochir Dhibi
8.   Kanchir Hari Dhibi
9.   Lohonar Dhap
10. Khujar Dhap
11. Doshatina Dhap
12. Dhoniker Dhap
13. Mondirir Dorgah
14. Bishmordana Dhibi
15. Malinar Dhap
16. Malpukuria Dhap
17. Jogir Dhap
18. Podmobhatir Dhap
19. Kanai Dhap
20. Dulu Mojhir Bhita
21. Podda Debhir Bhita
22. Rastala Dhap
23. Shoshitola Dhap
24. Dhonbandhor Dhap
25. Chader Dhap
26. Shindinath Dhap
27. Shalibahon Rajar Kacharibari Dhipi
28. Kacher Angina
29. Mongolnather Dhap
30. ChhoutoTengra/ Babur Dhap/ Kethar Dhap


Systematic archaeological excavation of Mahasthangarh was first started in 1928–29 under the guidance of K.N.Dikshit of the Archaeological Survey of India. The areas around Jahajghata, MunirSystematic archaeological excavation of Mahasthangarh was first started in 1928–29 under the guidance of K.N.Dikshit of the Archaeological Survey of India. The areas around Jahajghata, Munir Ghon and Bairagir Bhita were explored. Excavation was resumed in 1934–36 at Bairagir Bhita and Govinda Bhita. Excavation was carried out in 1960s around the Mazhar, Parasuramer Prasad, Mankalir Dhap, Jiat Kunda and in a part of the northern rampart. In the next phase excavation was carried out sporadically in parts of the east and north ramparts but the final report is yet to be published. In the period 1992–98 excavation was conducted in the area lying between Bairagir Bhita and the gateway exposed in 1991 as a Bangla-Franco joint venture, which is now in its second phase with excavation around the mazhar in the western side of the citadel.

Movable antiquities

The excavations have led to the recovery of a large number of items, a few of which are listed here.
Inscriptions: A 4.4 cm x 5.7 cm lime stone slab bearing six lines in Prakrit in Brahmi script, discovered accidentally by a day labourer in 1931 was an important find. The text appears to be a royal order of Magadh, possibly during the rule of Asoka. It dates the antiquity of Mahasthangarh to 3rd century BC. An Arabic inscriptional slab of 1300–1301 discovered in 1911–12 mentions the erection of a tomb in honour of Numar Khan, who was a Meer-e-Bahar (lieutenant of the naval fleet). A Persian inscriptional slab of 1718–19 records the construction of a mosque during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar.
Coins: Silver punch marked coins are datable to a period between the 4th century BC and the 1st–2nd century AD. Some uninscribed copper cast coins have been found. Two Gupta period coins have been reported from a nearby village named Vamanpara. A number of coins belonging to the sultans of 14th–15th century and British East India Company have been found.
Ceramics: Mostly represented by a vast number of shards.
Sculpture: A 5th century Buddha stone sculpture recovered from Vasu Vihara, a Lokesvara stone sculpture showing blending of Visnu and Avalokitsvara, salvaged from neighbouring Namuja village, a number sand stone door-frames, pillars and lintels (datable to 5th–12th century), numerous Buddha bronze sculpture datable to 10th–11th century, a terracotta Surya discovered at Mankalir Bhita, and numerous other pieces.
Terracotta Plaques: A number of terracotta plaques have been discovered.
Many of these are on display in the site museum, which is open Sunday to Thursday summer:10 am to 6 pm, winter:9 am to 5 pm. Recess:1–2 pm, Friday recess is from 12.30 to 2.30, opens at 9 am in summer, other timings same. Summer timings 1 April to 30 September, winter timings 1 October to 30 March.Books on Mahasthangarh and other archaeological sites in Bangladesh (in Bengali and English) are available at the ticket counter for the site museum.

Highlights of some excavated sites

Inside the citadel

Bairagir Bhita: Constructed/ reconstructed in four periods: 4th–5th century AD, 6th–7th century, 9th–10th century, and 11th century. Excavations have revealed impoverished base ruins resembling temples. Two sculptured sand stone pillars have been recovered.
Khodarpathar Bhita: Some pieces of stone carved with transcendent Buddha along with devotees in anjali (kneeling with folded hands) recovered.
Parasuramer Prasad: Contains remains of three occupation periods – 8th century AD findings include stone Visnupatta of Pala period, 15th- 16th century findings include some glazed shreds of Muslim origin, and the third period has revealed two coins of the British East India Company issued in 1835 and 1853.
Mankalir Dhap: terracotta plaques, bronze Ganesha, bronze Garuda etc. were discovered. Base ruins of a 15-domed mosque (15th–16th century) was revealed.
Bangla-Franco joint venture: Excavations have revealed 18 archaeological layers, ranging from 5th century BC to 12th century AD, till virgin soil at a depth of around 17 m.
Outside the citadel
Govinda Bhita: Situated 185 m north-east of Jahajghata and opposite the site museum. Remains dated from 3rd century BC to 15th century AD. Base remains of two temples have been exposed.
Totaram Panditer Dhap: Situated in the village Vihara, about 6 km north-west of the citadel. Structural remains of a damaged monastery have been exposed

Narapatir Dhap: Situated in the village Basu Vihara, 1.5 km north-west of Totaram Panditer Dhap. Base remains of two monasteries and a temple have been exposed. Cunningham identified this place as the one visited by Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) in the 7th century AD.
Gokul Medh: Also known as Behular Basar Ghar or Lakshindarer Medh, situated in the village Gokul, 3 km to the south of the citadel, off the Bogra-Rangpur road, connected by a narrow motorable road about 1 km. Excavations in 1934–36 revealed a terraced podium with 172 rectangular blind cells. It is dated 6th–7th century. Local mythology associates it with legendary Lakshmindara-Behula. The village Gokul also has several other mound Kansr Dhap has been excavated.
Skandher Dhap: Situated in village Baghopara on the Bogra-Rangpur road, 3.5 km to the south of the citadel, a sandstone Kartika was found and structural vestiges of a damaged building were revealed. It is believed to be the remains of Skandha Mandira (temple consecrated to Kartika), mentioned in Karatoya mahatmya, as well as Kalhan's Rajatarangin, written in 1149–50. There also are references to Skandhnagara as a suburb of Pundranagara. Baghopara village has three other mounds.
Khulnar Dhap: Situated in village Chenghispur, 700 m west of the north-west corner of the citadel has revealed remains of a temple. The mound is named after Khullana, wife of Chand Sadagar.
From the present findings it can be deduced that there was a city called Pundravardhana at Mahasthangarh with a vast suburb around it, on all sides except the east, where the once mighty Karatoya used to flow. It is evident that the suburbs of Pundravardhana extended at least to Baghopara on the south-west, Gokul on the south, Vamanpara on the west, and Sekendrabad on the north. However, the plan of the city and much of its history are still to be revealed.
Bhimer Jangal This well-known embankment starts from the north-east corner of Bogra town and proceeds northwards for about 30 miles to a marshy place called Damukdaher bit, under police station Govindaganj (Rangpur District) and it is said, goes oil to Ghoraghat. It is made of the red earth of the locality and retains at places even now a height of 20 feet above the level of the country. There is a break ill it of over three miles from Daulatpur (north west of Mahasthan-garh) to Hazaradighi (south-west, of it). About a mile south of Hazradighi. the stream Subil approaches the jangal and runs alongside it down to Bogra town.
Some people think that the Subil is a moat formed by digging the earth for the jangal but as there is no embankment on the northern reach of the Subil now called the Ato nala. which merges in the Kalidaha bil; north of Mahasthan-garh O'Donnell was probably right in saying that the Subil represents the western of the two branches into which the Karatoya divided above Mahasthan.
On the Bogra-Hazradighi section of the jangal, there are two cross embankments running down to the Karatoya, about 2 miles and 4 miles respectively north of Bogra town and there is a diagonal embankment connecting these cross bonds and then running along the Karatoya until it meets the main embankment near Bogra.
This jangal or embankment appears to have been of a military character, thrown up to protect the country on its east. The break roar Mahasthan may be due to the embankment having been washed away or to the existence of natural protection by the bit.
The Bhima to whom the embankment is ascribed may be the Kaivarta chief of the eleventh century who according to the Ramcharitam ruled over Varendra in succession to his father Rudraka and uncle Divyoka, who had ousted king Mahipala II of the Pala, dynasty. Bhima in his turn was defeated in battle and billed by Ramapala. Mahipala's son.
Jogir Bhaban South west of Bagtahali (beyond Chak Bariapara) and some 3 miles west of the khetlal road is a settlement of the Natha sect of Saiva sannyasis, known as Yogir-bhavan, forming the eastern section of Arora village. An account of this settlement is given by Beveridge, J.:1.S.T., 1878; p. 94. It occupies about so, bighas of land and forms the headquarters of the sect. of which there are branches at Yogigopha and Gorakh-kui, both in the Dinajpur District, the former in its south-west part some 5 miles west of Paharpur, J.A.S.B.1875, p. 189, and the latter in its north-west part some 4 miles west of Nekmardan.
The shrines at Yogir-bhavan are situated in the south-west corner of an en¬closure or-math. One of them called Dharmma-dungi, bears a brick inscription, reading scrvva-siddha sana 1148 Sri Suphala ... (the year =1741 A.D.). 'In front of it is another shrine called `Gadighar,' where a fire is kept burn at all hours. Outside the enclose are four temples, dedicated respectively to Kalabhai¬rava, Sarvamangala Durga and Gorakshanatha. The Kalabhairava temple contains a diva linga and bears a brick inscription reading Sri Ramasiddha sana 1173 sala (=1766 A.D.) ample Sri Jayanatha Nara-Narayana. The Sarva¬mangala temple contains three images of Hara-Gauri, one of Mahishamardini, a fragment of an Ashta-matrika slab, a fragment of a three-faced female figure probably Ushnishavijava (Sadhanamala; II. pl. XIV) and a four-armed female figure playing on a vina (evidently Sarasvati, but worshipped here as Sarva¬ mangala). Over the entrance is a brick inscription reading 1089 Meher Natha sadaka sri Abhirama Mehetara (the year =1681 A.D.). In the Durga temple is a stone image of Chamunda, and in the Gorakshanatha one, a Siva lihga. There are three brick built samadhis near the latter temple.
Arora South-west of the Dadhisugar and standing on the Masandighi, in Arora village; is Salvan Rajar bari referred to under Baghahali. This Silvan may possibly be the same as king Salavahan, son of Sahila-deva of the Chamba inscription who won the title of Kari-ghata-varsha (= hunjara-ghata-varsha ?) (R. C. Majumdar, vange kambojadhikara,' vanga-rani, Chaitara, 1330.B.S.p. 251, ind. Ant, XVII.pp. 7–13). Beveridge refers to this mound in JA.S.B., 1878, p 95.
This name of Sahila seems, to occur again in Sahiladitya lakshmam in v. 10 of the Silimpllr inscription (Ep. Ind, XIII, p. 291). If this identification is correct, then the word kaunjanraghatacarshcna in the Bangarh stone inscription (Gauda-raja-mala, p. 35) is really the title or virudha of the Gudapati of the Kumboja family and not the date of the inscription.
Teghar North of Chandnia that the road skirts the bil and comes to Teghar village Which juts out into the bil 'Near about here are several mounds; such as Naras¬patir dhap. Kacher Angina (or glazed courtyard, a term applied to many ruins in these parts) etc. The biggest of these mounds, Mangal-nather dhap, (Fig. 6) is situated close to the point, from which a road branches off to Bihar. It is said that terracotta plaques as well as stone images were found at this site, but were all consigned to the neighbouring dighi.
Rojakpur Proceeding westward along the road from Gokul to Haripur, we pass into the western arm of the latter village, already referred to. and meet the Bogra¬ Khetlal road near the Chandnia hat. West of Haripur and south of the Somrai bil is the village of Rojakpur, into which, as already stated, the elevated ground from Chandnia hat extends. On this ground are two mounds called respectively Chandbhita. (probably referring to the Manasa legend) and Dhanbhandar. A little further west is another mound called Singhinath Dhap.
Mathura East of Bumanpara and extending up to the garh on the east and the Kalidaha bill on the north, is the village of Mathura, in Which there are several tank and on a ridge overlooking the Gilatala moat, two mounds called Parasuramer Sabhabati and Yogir Dhap.

Threats to Mahasthangarh

In a 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing HeritageGlobal Heritage Fund identified Mahasthangarh as one of 12 worldwide sites most "On the Verge" of irreparable loss and damage, citing insufficient management (poor water drainage in particular) and looting as primary causes.


There is a local legend that Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar arrived at Pundravardhana in the garb of a fakir (mystic holy pedlar of Islamic philosophy) riding a fish. (Mahisawar is Persian word meaning a 'person who rides a fish'). He came from Balkh in Afghanistan with a retinue. The period of his arrival is variably put at 5th century AD, 11th century AD and 17th century AD. At that time there was a king named Parasuram with his seat and palace in Mahasthangarh. Mahisawar requested Parasuram for a piece of land to spread his prayer mat on which he could pray. The request was granted but the prayer mat started expanding as soon as it was laid on the ground. When the prayer mat reached the area around the palace bewildered Parasuram declared war. In the beginning the battle seemed to be favouring Parasuram. A scavenger Harapala informed Mahisawar that it was difficult to defeat the royal troops because of the pool called Jiat Kunda. A dead soldier bathed in the waters of Jiat Kunda came back to life. On knowing this Mahisawar asked a kite to drop a piece of beef in Jiat Kunda. When this was done, the pool lost its powers. The royal troops were on the verge of defeat. The commander of the royal troops, Chilhan, with a large number of his followers, went over to Mahisawar. Thereafter Parasuram and many members of the royal family committed suicide. There are many variations of this anecdote, some of which are sold in Bengali booklets in and around Mahasthangarh/Pundravardhana.

Some antiquity comparisons

Mahasthangarh dates back to at least 3rd century BC and is acknowledged as the earliest city-site so far discovered in Bangladesh. Somapura Mahavihara at Paharpur in Naogaon District was once the biggest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas. It dates from the 8th century AD. Mainamati ruins in Comilla District date back to 6th–13th centuries AD.In neighbouring West Bengal, the ruins of Pandu Rajar Dhibi on the banks of the Ajay River in Bardhaman district date back to 2000 BC. However, this recent archaeological discovery has not yet been properly studied by outside experts and specialists in this field, and as such the historical value of many of the statements must be considered as uncertain.The ruins at Chandraketugarh in 24 Parganas South and Rajbadidanga in Murshidabad district date back to the early years of the Christian era.