Assignment on Paharpur

The Somapuri Vihara at Paharpur was once the biggest Buddhist monastery south of the Himalaya. It dates from the 8th century AD. This is the most impressive archaeological site in Bangladesh; it was declared a protected archaeological site back in 1919, although the scholar-traveller Dr Buckman Hamilton had shown interest in it as far back as 1807. The name of the site has changed over the eons; it began life as Somapura (abode of the moon), then became Mahavihara (greatest monastery) before taking its current combination name. Getting to Paharpur is a bit of a pain on public transport, but it all adds to the element of discovery.
Paharpur an important archaeological site in Bangladesh, situated in a village named Paharpur (Pahadpur) under the Badalgachhi Upazila of Naogaon district. The village is connected with the nearby Railway station Jamalganj, the district town Naogaon and Jaipurhat town by metalled roads. It is in the midst of alluvial flat plain of northern Bangladesh. In contrast to the monotonous level of the plain, stands the ruins of the lofty (about 24m high from the surrounding level) ancient temple which was covered with jungle, locally called Pahar or hill from which the name Paharpur is derived.

The site was first noticed by Buchanon Hamilton in course of his survey in Eastern India between 1807 and 1812. It was next visited by Westmacott. Sir Alexander Cunningham visited the place in 1879. Cunningham intended to carry out an extensive excavation in the mound. But he was prevented by zamindar of Balihar, the owner of the land. So he had to be satisfied with limited excavation in a small part of the monastic area and top of the central mound. In the latter area he 'discovered the ruins of a square tower of 22 feet side with a projection in the middle of each side'. The site was declared to be protected by the Archaeological Survey of India in 1919 under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act of 1904.
Regular and systematic excavation was jointly started here in 1923 by Archaeological Survey of India, varendra research society of Rajshahi and Calcutta University. In the beginning the joint mission carried out the work with the financial help of Kumar sarat kumar ray of Dighapatia Zamindar family and under the guidance of DR Bhandarkar, Professor of Ancient History and former Superintendent of Archaeological Survey of India, Western Circle. The work was confined to a few rooms at the south-west corner of the monastery and the adjoining courtyard. The work was resumed in 1925-26 by RD Banerjee, who excavated in the northern part of the central mound. From the next season (1926-27) onward excavation was carried out under the supervision of KN Dikshit with the exception of seasons of the 1930-32. In these two seasons GC Chandra conducted the excavation. In the last two seasons (1932-34) the work was carried out at satyapir bhita, a mound at a distance of 364m east of the central temple. During Pakistan period lower levels of a few monastic cells on the eastern wing were excavated by Rafique Mughal, but the results were never published.