Originally Posted by tanzirian
Bengal was the last major center of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent under the Pal dynasty (700s - 1100s AD)...a golden age in our history. Somapura Vihara in Paharpur is the main surviving relic of that time (check out the thread in the heritage section if you like). The Pals had an active trading relationship with Southeast Asia and had a strong influence on the monastic architecture in your part of the world. Paharpur is not an active monastery but Bangladesh is about 1% or so Buddhist and you can find active ones especially in the southeast. Paharpur is a UNESCO World Heritage site and definitely worth checking out if you have the time.
The masjids I mentioned all exist in original form (minus the tilework and gilding that used to cover some of their surfaces). You can find pictures in the "Colorful and Historic Mosques" or "Bangladesh Tourism" threads in the Heritage section of the forum. The largest concentration of historic Muslim monuments in Rajshahi division is at Gaur (Chhotta Shona Masjid, Darasbari Masjid, Khania Dighi Masjid, Masjid and Hammam of Shah Nimatullah, and the ruins of a Madrassah). Gaur was the capital of Bengal for most of the time between the 1300s and 1500s...another golden age in our history. The border between India and Bangladesh runs right through Gaur, splitting the historic buildings between the two countries. Kusumba and Bagha Masjids are also not far from Gaur, but keep in mind that the roads to all these places are probably not great, so they may take some time getting to even if they are not far as the crow flies. If you are interested in traditional Bangladeshi Islamic architecture outside of Dhaka then Gaur is the place I would recommend (also Bagerhat, another World Heritage Site, which is in Khulna division). If you plan to visit Gaur or some other place like that I can give you some more info on the masjids there. Of course Dhaka itself has many little places you can check out.
You are right though that the culture is the main attraction BD has to offer and having a local friend will help you a enjoy that a lot more than the average tourist.
As for me I think the expense will make it impractical for me to go again this year (I went in January)...also I generally go back together with my parents and they will probably not be going. So next year maybe.
If I recall correctly ENU invited you to his house a long time ago
...so maybe you can get in touch with him
. Dhakaiya has been busy with his studies so unfortunately has not been around the forum much lately.
Thanks brother for a very detailed guide of Bangladesh, I will print it and bring it with me there.
Actually my friend Mr Faruk in Dhaka also plan to take me to Gaur near the Indian border. But similar to what you mentioned, he said transportation can be a problem and that we must change into many buses to reach there.
Also I would love to see the Sundarban and Barisal region. It is said that Barisal is the most "original" place of Bangladesh.
Eid Mubarak to all of you