Paharpur is home to the UNESCO listed Somapuri Vihara, an 8th century Buddhist monastery. Although it’s an important tourist site in Bangladesh, getting there is not as straightforward as you would expect. Here’s a guide on how to get from Bogra to Paharpur by public transport.
The UNESCO listed Somapura Vihara was once one of the biggest monasteries in South Asia. Now not much remains, but it remains a place of historical significance.
The casual visitor might not be awed, especially if you’ve seen the likes of the Borobudur or Bagan (or other similar ruins in West Bengal, India), but history aficionados cannot miss a visit to the Somapura Vihara.
Getting from Bogra to Paharpur by public transport
There are no direct buses from Bogra to Paharpur. Instead, you first have to travel from Bogra to Joypurhat. To get to Joypurhat, go to the Charmatha bus stand. A rickshaw from the city center to Charmatha should cost 20 – 30 Tk.
Buses to Joypurhat go roughly every hour. The bus I took left at 8:30, and took almost two hours. A ticket costs 80 Tk per person.
In Joypurhat, you’ll be dropped off at the bus station. From the Joypurhat bus station you can get a bus to Paraphur. The bus to Paharpur takes about half an hour, and costs 20 Tk per person.
In Paharpur, you’ll be dropped at an intersection. From here you have to follow the road on your left hand side to reach the Somapura Vihara. You can take a rickshaw for roughly 50 Tk, or walk for about half an hour to 45 minutes.
You’ll pass the vihara on your way to the entrance gate, and will get a pretty good look from outside the gate. The entrance fee is 200 Tk per person.
To get back to Bogra, follow the above steps in reverse.
Try to leave Paharpur no later than 16:00, otherwise you might get stuck. However, don’t immediately believe auto and rickshaw drivers who say there are no more buses to Joypurhat. We were told this at 14:00… and five minutes later, a bus appeared. Don’t expect to leave Joypurhat for Bogra after 18:00.
Is Somapura Vihara worth the effort?
Not going to lie, I was let down by the Somapura Vihara.
Although it has plenty historical significance, the site itself isn’t so spectacular. There’s very little in the way of information, the grounds are dirty, and although the main building is large, it’s largely unadorned and not particularly interesting.
The museum was closed when I was there, but looked small from the outside. All in all, I wouldn’t spend six hours again visiting this place. However, if you’re into these sort of things—or have a lot of imagination—there’s no reason you wouldn’t like it. It just wasn’t for me.
Protip: If you’re on a really tight budget, you can easily see the main attraction without paying. The vihara is very visible for half of the approach, and it won’t get much better from up close. You could even climb the fence, if you’re so inclined, not that I recommend it.
Where to stay in Bogra
Bogra has very little to keep travelers lingering. However, it’s a great base to explore Paharpur and Mahasthangarh, another nearby archaeological site. For budget travelers, I recommend staying at the YMCA. They charge 800 Tk for a decent double or triple, and have friendly staff. The YMCA can be found around the corner from Bhai Phagla Mazar, which is a 5 Tk shared CNG ride from the city center.
For a little more luxury, head to Red Chillies Guest House, which charges 1,700 Tk for a double room.
There you have it, a quick guide on how to get from Bogra to Paharpur by public transport. Give a shout in the comments if anything changes.