Shalban Buddhist Monastery is one of the ancient civilizations of Bangladesh. The monastery is located in the middle of Lalmai hill near Bird in Kotbari of Comilla district. The monastery was named Shalban Bihar as there was once a dense forest of Shal-Gajari around the monastery. Although this monastery is similar to the Paharpur Buddhist monastery, it is small in size. During the construction of a road in the present Kotbari area at the end of 1875, the ruins of a building were uncovered. The ruins discovered at that time were presumed to be a fort. Nalini Kant Bhattasali, the principal of the Dhaka Museum, visited the area in 1917 and while conducting a search of the area, decided to call the ruins the Pattikera Nagar, surrounded by the copperplate fort (thirteenth century AD) of Ranbangkamall Harikela Dev and the monastery. However, according to other archaeologists, it was the ruins of an ancient city called Jayakarmantabasak.
There are six phases of construction and reconstruction of Shalban Bihar. Each arm of the square Shalban Bihar is 167.7 meters long. The walls on all four sides of Bihar are five meters thick. The rooms are built on the back walls of the four sides of the monastery. There was only one way to get in or out of Bihar. This path or door is in the middle of the north block. Each room has a 1.5-meter wide wall in the middle. The central temple was right in the middle of the Bihar courtyard. There are a total of 155 rooms in Bihar. It is believed that Buddhist monks lived and practiced religion here. In front of the room are an 8.5 feet wide porch and low walls at its end. There are three niches on the wall of each room where idols or oil lamps etc. were kept in the past. On the other hand, the hall, built on four walls and four huge round pillars in front, is believed to have been the dining room of the monks. The size of the hall is 10 meters by 20 meters.
There is a wide brick road on all four sides of the hall. Archaeological excavations at various times have uncovered eight copperplate inscriptions, about 400 gold, and silver coins, numerous burnt earthen plates or terracotta, seals, bronze, and earthenware statues from the ruins of the monastery. A huge amount of antiquities collected from this monastery is being displayed in the Mainamati Museum.
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Tickets for Bangladeshi nationals at Mainamati Museum and Shalban Bihar at Tk 20 each. Tickets for boys and girls up to 10th class at five rupees. Tickets for the citizens of SAARC countries at 100 rupees. Tickets are sold for Rs 200 for other foreign nationals.
How to get there
The road distance from Dhaka to Comilla is only 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tisha and Asia line ahead in terms of bus service. You can ride anyone on the way to Comilla. Prince Saudia bus would be good for those who want to come from Chittagong.
However, the interesting thing is that the train from Chittagong to Comilla takes less time than the bus, only 3 hours and 30 minutes. The bus takes 4 hours and 30 minutes. Come to Comilla and leave at Tomcham Bridge bus stand. You will find a CNG stand there. If you go locally it will cost 10 rupees and if you want to go reserve a maximum of 70 Tk. You will be dropped off at Kotbari with CNG. From there you have to take an autorickshaw to Shalban Bihar. The rent will be 5 Tk. Don’t forget to visit Mainamati War Cemetery on the way.
Where to stay
There are several hotels and guest houses including Comilla Club, Comilla City Club. There are all types of AC or non-AC systems. The cost of living in a room for two will be 1 thousand to 3 thousand Tk per night. Apart from this, there are Hotel Chandrima, Hotel Sonali, Hotel, Shalban, Hotel, Nidrabagh, Ashiq Rest House, etc. The rent is between 200 to 600 Tk.
Read More: Mainamati Museum