Mainamati Shalban Vihara ( ময়নামতি শালবন বিহার )
written by – Labanaya Barua
Shalban Vihara (শালবন বিহার) in Mainamati is one of the most important buddhist archaeological sites in Bangladesh. Shalban name which comes from a grove of shal (Shorea robusta) trees. The archaeological site is located about 10 km from Comilla city. It was built by King Bhava Deva in the 7th Century. In past, the monastery had the name as per the king of the locality. In that time, it was named Bhavadev Bihar.
In Shalban Vihara, it has the ground plan of a Buddhist monastery, there are four walls surrounding of Shalban Vihara with 115 monastic cells, in which the Buddhist monks studied and observed religious practices. Previously it was known as Shalban Rajar Bari. But after excavation ground plan of a Buddhist monastery measuring 550’x500′ with 115 monastic cells, it was exposed. Hence it is now popularly known as shalban vihara.
There was only one door in north side. There are many ancient ruins like- Charpatra Mura, Boiragir Mura, Kotila Mura, etc. Beside of the Moinamoti of which all are Buddhist Viharas or temples. Archaeologists have unearthed many things such as silver coins, copper-plates, jewelry etc. in Shalbon vihara. Many ancient artifacts like- ancient armors, copper-plates, coins, jewelries, bronze statues, burned clay-plates etc., found in Shalban Vihara. In Shalbon vihar a widest part, the ridge is about 4.5 km across and its highest peaks attain a height of about 45 meters. where the Northern part is called Moinamoti and the Southern part is called Lalmai; and Shalbon Bihar is in the Middle of Lalmai and Moinamoti, there are a series of hills.
The largest number of stone sculptures and terra-cotta plaques where been found in Comilla’s archaeological sites, representing Bengal and the sub-continent. Many items can be seen in the Mainamati site museum, which is the richest in artefacts amongst other museums in Bangladesh.
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