Written by SoudipAugust 23rd 2014
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Somapura Mahavihara Historical Facts and Pictures
Paharpur village at Naogaon distirct, Somapura Mahavihara is an 8th century Buddhist monastery. Occupying an area of 11 hectares, this monastery is one of the largest and best known Buddhist monasteries in Indian subcontinent and also an important archaeological site in India.
Based on Tibetan sources, this monastery was part of the great five Mahaviharas, which was established during the ancient Pala period in Bengal. Scientific excavations discovered through the inscriptions on seals that Somapura Mahavihara was built by Dharampala, the second of the Pala kings.
Architecture and Structure
The structure of the complex is quadrangular, consisting 177 cells and a conventional Buddhist stupa at the center. The monastery comprises of a large number of shrines and stupas of different shapes and sizes along with terracotta plaques, inscriptions, ceramics, coins and stone sculptures. The monastery compound is dominated by a central temple that bears similarities with Buddhist temple architectural patterns of terraced structure with interposed chambers, cruciform basement and gradually declines to a pyramid-form. The monastery compound also occupies an adjacent museum where a collection of statues of Hindu gods and deities are preserved.
This Buddhist monastery has survived the invasion of Islam in South Asia and due to its rich cultural and historic values, it was selected in 1985 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.