Bangladesh is home to three World Heritage Sites. Two of them are cultural sites and one is a natural site. A World Heritage Site is a place recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as being of special cultural or physical significance. To be considered a World Heritage Site, a place must be of “outstanding universal value” and meet at least one of the ten criteria.
Below are details about some of Bangladesh’s World Heritage Sites. You can click on the name of each site for more details.
Bangladesh’s two cultural World Heritage Sites are:
- The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat is important evidence of a medieval city in the south-west part of present Bagerhat district which is located in the south-west part of Bangladesh, at the meeting point of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The ancient city, formerly known as Khalifatabad, sprawls over on the southern bank of the old river Bhairab and was founded by the Turkish general Ulugh Khan Jahan in the 15th century. The city’s infrastructure reveals considerable technical skill and an exceptional number of mosques and early Islamic monuments, many built of brick, can be seen there.
- The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat is A World Heritage Site for being an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant stage in human history.
- Evidence of the rise of Mahayana Buddhism in Bengal from the 7th century onwards, Somapura Mahavira, or the Great Monastery, was a renowned intellectual centre until the 12th century. Its layout perfectly adapted to its religious function, this monastery-city represents a unique artistic achievement. With its simple, harmonious lines and its profusion of carved decoration, it influenced Buddhist architecture as far away as Cambodia. Today, Paharpur is the most spectacular and magnificent monument in Bangladesh and the second largest single Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas.
- The Ruins of Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur is a World Heritage Site because the monastery-city represents a unique artistic achievement. The symmetrical layout and massively built single unit of the monastery was perfectly adapted to its religious function. Its simple, harmonious lines and its profusion of carved decoration, in stone and terracotta, are important artistic masterpieces. The striking architectural form introduced at Paharpur on a grand scale for the first time in Asia profoundly influenced the subsequent construction of temples of Pagan in Myanmar and Loro-Jongrang and Chandi Sewer temples in central Java. It also continued to influence Buddhist architecture as far away as Cambodia. The craftsmanship of Paharpur terracotta still endures since the 8th century A.D. in the whole of deltaic lands around. Finally, Somapura Mahavihara, the Great Monastery also evidences the rise of Maharaja Buddhism in Bengal from the 7th century onwards. It became a renowned center of Buddhist religion and culture during the royal Patronage of Pala Dynasty and was a renowned intellectual center until the 17th century.
Bangladesh’s one natural World Heritage Site is:
- The Sundarbans mangrove forest is one of the largest such forests in the world and is composed of three wildlife sanctuaries which are considered core breeding areas for a number of endangered species. It lies on the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on the Bay of Bengal. The site is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests, and presents an excellent example of ongoing ecological processes. The area is known for its wide range of fauna, including 260 bird species, the Bengal tiger and other threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python.
- The Sundarbans is a World Heritage Site because it provides a significant example of on-going ecological processes as it represents the process of delta formation and the subsequent colonization of the newly formed deltaic islands and associated mangrove communities. It is also one of the largest remaining areas of mangroves in the world, supporting an exceptional level of biodiversity in both the terrestrial and marine environments, including significant populations of globally endangered cat species, such as the Royal Bengal Tiger.