Assignment on Mohasthangarh, Bogra, Bangladesh

Introduction :
Mahasthangarh is one of the earliest urban archaeological site 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. A 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 till the 18th century AD.
Together with the ancient and mediaeval ruins, the mazhar (holy tomb) of Shah Sultan Balkhi Mahisawar built at site of a Hindu temple is located at Mahasthangarh. He was a dervish (holy person devoted to Islam) of royal lineage who came to the Mahasthangarh area, with the objective of spreading Islam among non-Muslims. He converted the people of the area to Islam and settled there.

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, the ancient capital of Pundravardhana is located 11 km (6.8 mi) north of Bogra on the Bogra-Rangpur highway, 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 Bograto 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 m above sea level, whereas Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is around 6 m above sea level. Another reason for choosing this place was the position and size of the Karatoya, which seemed to be as wide as the sea.
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. F. Buchanan Hamilton was the first to locate and visit Mahasthangarh in 1808, C.J.O’Donnell, E.V.Westmacott, and Baveridge followed. Alexander Cunningham was the first to identify the place as the capital of Pundravardhana. He visited the site in 1889.

Characterised by tropical monsoon climate, with the bulk of rainfalloccurring between May and October. Considering the variations in temperature, pressure and precipitation, the site can be included within the climatic sub-zone of hot summer and moderate rainfall. The annual precipitation in the area decreases from east to west. The maximum temperature ranges from 37°C to 39°C whereas the minimum temperature varies from 7°C to 10°C.
About 60% of the soil is composed of semi-consolidated older Madhupur Clay, which forms the Barind and Lalmai terraces. The remainder of the soil is developed in unconsolidated recent and subrecent alluvial deposits laid down by the rivers bangaliand Karatoya.