Gaud, better known as Sona Masjid, is an ancient capital teeming with historical buildings. It is also a border crossing post with India. Here’s a quick guide on how to get from Rajshahi to Sona Masjid by public transport.
The historical capital of Gaud, known as Sona Masjid in Bangladesh, straddles the border of Bangladesh and India. It is home to several historical mosques, shrines, and palaces, some of which are in India. It’s possible to visit Sona Masjid in Bangladesh as a day trip from Rajshahi, and I suggest you do just that. Below is a quick guide on how to get from Rajshahi to Sona Masjid by public transport, and information on where to stay in Rajshahi.
How to get from Rajshahi to Sona Masjid by public transport
Sona Masjid is about 3 hours away from Rajshahi. Buses leave roughly every hour from the junction of Station Road and New Market Road (see map below). An auto from Zero Point should cost 20 Tk, a CNG should cost 10 Tk per person.
When you get to the junction, you’ll see many buses. Most go to Dhaka, but ask anyone for a bus to Sona Masjid, and you’ll be directed to the right ticket counter.
Buses start running around 7:30 in the morning, and I suggest you leave somewhat early. Although they should run every hour, Sona Masjid is not a very popular destination or border crossing, so buses might linger to fill up. A ticket to Sona Masjid costs 115 Tk per person.
When you enter the Gaud area, Sona Masjid will be on your righthand side. Get off to explore the mosque, and then follow the main road to explore other mosques and shrines. The whole stretch is about 3 km, and it takes about 3 hours to leisurely walk to all the sights and explore. There are signs in English pointing to the sights down the main road, and there is no entry fee. Many of the mosques are still active, so dress modestly. Women should bring a headscarf.
Note that there are very few amenities available in this area, and I suggest you bring your own lunch. Tea and water is available at roadside stalls, and you might be able to find a lukewarm samosa or two.
Getting back from Sona Masjid to Rajshahi
Once you’re done exploring the sights, head to the bus stand.
The bus stand is about a kilometer beyond the turn off to Darasbari Masjid, towards the border. You can also hail any bus passing by. Buses to Rajshahi should leave every hour until 16:30. However, when I was there on a Saturday, buses left roughly every two hours. Make sure to give yourself some wiggle room in your plans, and don’t wait to catch the last bus.
If you happen to get stuck at the border, there is a guest house about 200 meters before the turn off to Darasbari Masjid, heading to Sona Masjid. They charge 400 Tk for a room.
Crossing the border at Sona Masjid
Sona Masjid has an official border crossing with India, and formalities are similar as the ones described in this Benapole border crossing report. However, this border doesn’t issue visas on arrival, so you if you’re entering Bangladesh you need to have a visa in your passport. The same applies for entering India.
Where to stay in Rajshahi
Rajshahi is a great place to base yourself for day trips to Sona Masjid and nearby Puthia. It has several decent hotels, some interesting colonial architecture, and walking along the river Padma (which becomes the Ganges in India) around sunset is pleasant.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many budget hotels that allowed foreigners to stay. I ended up in Hotel Nice International, which was pleasant enough. Their cheapest room is 1,400 Tk for a double. There are no singles available, but it’s always worth trying to bargain a better deal if you’re traveling alone—I shared the cost with a fellow traveler. Breakfast is included.
If you happen to find a cheaper option that allows foreigners to stay, please let me know in the comments. Most hotels cluster around the Zero Point area and along Station Road. A rickshaw from the bus station to Zero Point is 20 Tk, and a CNG 10 Tk per person.
There you have it, a quick guide on how to get from Rajshahi to Sona Masjid by public transport. Give a shout in the comment if anything changes.