Paul Tanner (UK):
The T list defintion includes over 50 sites spread along an 18km ridge which “appears to have been the religious centre from which Buddhism was spread to South East Asia”. It was visited and described by the Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zhang in the 7th century AD during his 17year journey to the Buddhist sites of the Silk Road and India. Unless you are particularly “into” early Buddhist monuments you are most likely (as did we) to concentrate on the “Shalban Vihara” (Photo). This was a Buddhist residential educational centre similar to the inscribed site at Pahapur. Nearby is an intersting museum. Our feeling was that if you had to choose one Vihara to see then Pahapur would be the better if you had the time to get up to it in central Bangladesh and that, if you had already seen it, then it wouldn’t be worth going far out of your way to see Shalban! However Mainamati is on the direct route from Dhaka down to Chittagong and the Hill Tribes so it is quite likely that you would pass it on a tour of Bangladesh anyway – in which case certainly take it in. We enjoyed our walk round and indeed found the museum better than that at Pahapur for its terracotta tiles. But should it be inscribed? Well there are plenty of Christian Cathedrals on the list so one can hardly complain that it is too similar to Pahapur!! Its significance in the history of Buddhism seems pretty high so I guess it does justify inscription – but I just feel that Bangladesh should be concentrating on some of its other sites as discussed in my review of Lalbagh fort!
Date posted: February 2009
Have you been to The Lalmai-Mainamati Group of monuments? Share your experiences!