A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (2023)

Bangladesh is well known for its extraordinarily lush river landscapes, vibrant culture, and chaotic urban spaces. Fittingly, Bangladesh is also home to three of the more than 1,000 World Heritage Sites worldwide, as inscribed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Bangladesh’s captivating UNESCO sites range from the iconic Sundarbans, and the spectacular historic mosque City of Bagerhat and the far-flung Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur.

Bangladesh isn’t on the tourist trail like Vietnam, Malaysia, or Nepal, so when you visit its world heritage sites, you’ll find yourself amongst only the most persistent of travelers.

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (1)

UNESCO is a bureau of the United Nations that endeavors to support the protection and growth of the world’s intellectual and cultural property and elects UNESCO sites due to their “outstanding universal value” in science, history, or culture. As a result, UNESCO Sites are meaningful to the mutual interests of humanity – and legally guarded by international treaties.

Travel influenced by UNESCO sites enables visitors to explore secret spots, aid preservation, obtain specific knowledge about the history of Earth and humanity – and wonder at unequivocally majestic sites.

While a few such as the iconic Komodo Islands and the grand Sydney Opera House are famous around the world, there are far more untouristy UNESCO sites worthy of insertion in any ‘off-the-beaten-track’ bucket list.

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (2)

Inscriptions settle into two categories: cultural and natural locations, or a combination of both (mixed). There are currently 3 UNESCO world heritage sites in Bangladesh, two cultural ones and one natural one, and one mixed. There are also some incredible tentative UNESCO sites in Bangladesh we will cover briefly – for the more adventurous travelers.

So, why not immerse yourself in one or more of these sites on your next Bangladesh vacation? From breathtaking natural wonders to unprecedented feats of human engineering, check out the exhaustive list of Bangladesh UNESCO sites to determine which places resonate with you. You can then use them as a roadmap for the trip of a lifetime.

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (3)

Page Contents

(Video) ইউনেস্কো কর্তৃক বাংলাদেশের বিশ্ব ঐতিহ্যবাহী স্থানসমূহ ।।World Heritage Sites in Bangladesh by UNESCO

  • Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat
  • Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur
  • The Sundarbans

Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat

The Historic Mosque City of Bagerhat world heritage site in the Bagerhat District of south-west Bangladesh comprises several mosques constructed throughout the 15th-century Bengal Sultanate, of which the Sixty Dome Mosque is the largest. Bagerhat is considered to be part of the cultural heritage of the world as it provides remarkable testimony of medieval city, which quickly developed at the confluence of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers.

The old city, previously known as Khalifatabad, flourished on the south southern bank of the ancient river Bhairab in the 15th century BC. It stretched for around 50 square kilometers, comprises some of the most important buildings from the beginning phases of the spread of Bengal Muslim architecture.

These buildings include about 360 mosques, tombs, memorials, bridges, water tanks, roads, and public buildings assembled from baked brick – something that was not a commonly used building material at the time.

The formulation and creation of this mosque city over just a few short years is incredible enough. What is even more astonishing is that it was subsequently abandoned to the jungle not long after the death of its founder in 1459. This makes it one of the world’s great ‘lost cities’ among others, such as Sarmisegetuza Regiain Romania,Chichen Itzain Mexico, or Tikal in Guatemala.

The frequency of Islamic religious monuments found here speaks to the zeal of Khan Jahan, as goes the engraved inscription on his tomb. The absence of defenses at Bagerhat is also curious and ascribable to the feasibilities of retreat into the thick mangrove swamps of the Sunderbans.

The status of the infrastructures – the supply and removal of water, the cisterns and reservoirs, the roads and bridges – all exhibit a complete mastery of city planning techniques and a yearning towards spatial regulation.

The masterpieces of Indo-Islamic architecture were re-discovered by the British in 1895 and since then have been somewhat disentangled from the vegetation. In 1982, UNESCO created a masterplan for the conservation and ongoing exploration of the Bagerhat area, and it became a World Heritage Site not long after. More than 50 buildings have been classified so far in two distinct zones, including the Sixty Dome Mosque and the mausoleum of Khan Jahan.

There is a fascinating museum onsight, and most of the mosques can be explored in a few hours. As one of the top attraction in Bangladesh, Bagerhat is included on many tours, but you can also get here with local buseswhich run fromKhulnaregularly orMonglawith a connection.

Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur

Located in the north-west of Bangladesh in the Naogaon district, the ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur are all that remains of a Buddhist monastic complex at the heart of the ancient Varendra nation. Today the ruins constitute the most dramatic and consequential pre-Islamic monument in Bangladesh.

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The first constructor of the monastery was Dharmapala Vikramshila (770-810AD), the king of Varendri-Magadha, whose name is recorded on a clay seal found in the monastery compound.

The monastery is designed as a large square quadrangle with the central imposing entrance structure. The exterior walls are produced by a series of cells that face inwards to the central shrine in the complex’s cruciform courtyard. In the monastery’s ultimate construction phases, over 170 of these cells and a terraced superstructure rose three terraces to an imposing 70 feet tall. At the base of the shrine, there are over 60terracottasculptures represented a variety of Hindu divinities.

These, along with inscriptions, tell us about the cultural and religious life. Sometime in the second half of the 12th century, this great Vihara was abandoned, seemingly amid the great unrest and displacement resulting from the Muslim invasion rather than any one event. Today UNESCO works closely with Bangladeshi authorities to preserve the site for future generations through problems including lack of proper maintenance, fund constraints, and corruption consistently plague such effort.

Still, theRuins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur todayis the single most dramatic and magnanimous monument in Bangladesh and the second largest single Buddhist monastery south of the Himalayas.

A worthwhile world heritage site to visit, visits can be organized with most tour companies in Bangladesh or solo with a bus from Jaipurhat or Paharpur. The Jamalganj Railway Station is also only 4.5 kilometers away.

The Sundarbans

The Sundarbans is the most significant surviving mangrove forest globally and among the world’s most biologically active habitats. The forest and rivers along the Ganges and Brahmaputra Rivers across India and Bangladesh host a wide variety of wildlife, including many endangered species.

The extensive tidal mangrove forests of Bangladeshs’ Sundarbans Forest Reserve, is in reality, a mosaic of islands of different shapes and sizes, perennially washed by brackish water that swirls in and around the endless and mind-boggling labyrinths of water channels.

This mangrove natural environment continues to support the biggest number of tigers in the world who adapt to an almost amphibious life. Tigers of the Sundarbans can swim for long distances and feed on fish, crabs, and water monitors lizards — behaviors not common in tigers elsewhere in the world, including in the Ranthambore National Park.

Sadly, tigers here are also known as “man-eaters,” perhaps because of the reasonably high number of interactions with residents who share the land with them.

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The Sunderbans’ island terrain is of extreme economic importance to millions in the surrounding areas. They provide ecosystem services such as storm barrier protection and shore stabilization, fertilizer, and sediment trapping.

They are also incredibly important as a source of wood and natural resources, which is becoming increasingly challenging to sustain along with the wide variety of marine, benthic and terrestrial species that rely on the Sunderbans for habitat.

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (4)

The Sunderbans are a prime example of ecological mechanisms taking place such as monsoon rain, delta development, tidal impact, and plant colonization.

The region of approximately 133,010 ha is calculated to constitute about 55% forest land and 45% wetlands in the form of tidal rivers, canals, and giant estuarine mouths. It is stated that roughly 66% of the entire mangrove woodland area is in Bangladesh, with the remaining 34% in India.

While the ongoing ecological integrity of the Sunderbans is of concern, a visit to this fantastic UNESCO site in Bangladesh not only allows you an opportunity to come face to face with tigers — but also to promote ecotourism and help converse this tremendous place for future generations.

There are many tour options for different budgets and interests – as you would expect for one of the country’s top tourist attractions.

Interestingly when the Indian Sundarbans were recorded in 1987, it was proposed that the site be extended to include the (larger) Bangladesh Sundarbans. Later, when the Bangladeshi Sunderbans got inscribed in 1997, it was again recommended that the two sections be merged into one trans-national UNESCO site as is conventional.

However, international cooperation was not forthcoming for whatever reason, and now the Sunderbans are listed as two distinct UNESCO sites despites being similar ecologically. The only major difference is that the Bangladesh Sunderbans is more saline as salinity increases from east to west across the Sundarbans.

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (5)

And there you have it—all of the world heritage sites in Bangladesh. Hopefully, you have learned something about this country’s history already through these sites. Maybe some of them have even inspired your future travels.

If you get the opportunity to visit, please make choices that encourage the protection of these special places for future generations. This includes consideration of the transport you take in Bangladesh, along with which Bangladeshi tour companies you choose to support.

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If you haven’t quite had enough, Bangladesh also has tentative UNESCO sites which it has proposed but has yet to be ratified. These may or may not be included at a future date but are very telling in that they are what each country considers to be its cultural and/or natural heritage of outstanding universal value.

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (6)

They typically are worthy candidates for inscriptions and should be of interest for adventurous travelers who want to explore under-the-radar spots before they become touristy. For Bangladesh, these tentative sites are:

  • Mahansthangarh and its Environs – One of the earliest urban archaeological ruins discovered in Bangladesh containing the remains of an ancient city that dates back to at least 300 BC.
  • The Lalmai-Mainamati Group of monuments – A collection of around fifty archaeological sites that depict an influential religious and political center without parallel in the subcontinent. It seems to have been the spiritual center from which Buddhism was spread across South East Asia.
  • Lalbagh Fort– An incomplete 17th-century Mughal fort complex in Dhaka. Most of the fort has since been built over and is now surrounded by modern buildings, but it is nevertheless a fascinating place to explore.
  • Halud Vihara – An archaeological site that appears to be little more than a mound currently. It is proposed to be included in the existing World Heritage Site of Somapura Mahavihara at Pahapur.
  • Jaggadala Vihara– Another archaeological site proposed to be included in the existing World Heritage Site of Somapura Mahavihara at Pahapur.

Happy exploring!

A Guide To The 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites In Bangladesh! (7)

Further Things To Consider Before Any Adventure

Now you're all set and prepared to explore our big wide world, why not sort out everything else out all in one go? If necessary for your travel plans make sure you have brought proper travel insurance, protected your privacy by getting a secure VPN, compared all the top hotel booking sites to find just what you're after, reserved an unbeatable rental car price and - of course - booked the best flight deals!

Or maybe just forget it all and go for a last-minute cruise or effortless tour instead?

Many budget travelers (including me) indulge in worldwide airport lounge access, so we can experience luxury while still slumming it in economy. Naturally, we would never leave home without a moregeneral travel guide since we couldn’t possibly cover everything here!

Just add an adventurous attitude and plenty of smiles - they go a long way - and that about covers it all! Now go out, find your own path and don't forget to share your best inspiration stories with me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram...I'd love to hear from you!


What are the 3 World Heritage Sites in Bangladesh? ›

Three spots of Bangladesh have been declared world heritage sites till 2009. These are: Paharpur Buddhist Monastery of Noagaon, Bagerhat Mosque City and the Sundarbans.

What are the 3 World Heritage Sites? ›

8 Top World Heritage Sites to Explore
  • The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt. ...
  • Archaeological Areas of Pompeii, 79 CE, Italy. ...
  • Borobudur Temple, 9th century CE, Indonesia. ...
  • Angkor Wat, 12th century CE, Siem Reap, Cambodia. ...
  • Taj Mahal, 1648, India. ...
  • Palace and Gardens of Versailles, 1682, France. ...
  • Schönbrunn Palace, 1699, Austria.

How many UNESCO heritage sites are there Bangladesh? ›

As of 2022, there are three World Heritage Sites in Bangladesh, and a further five on the tentative list. The first two sites listed were the Mosque City of Bagerhat and the Ruins of the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur, in 1985. Both sites are cultural.

What are the 3 main criteria for a location to become a Unesco World Heritage Site? ›

As stated before, in order to be deemed a World Heritage site, the location must be of Outstanding Universal Value, demonstrating international significance; it must “transcend national boundaries and be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity” (Operational Guidelines 2012).

How many World Heritage Sites are there in the world 2022? ›

As of April 2022, a total of 1,154 World Heritage Sites (897 cultural, 218 natural, and 39 mixed properties) exist across 167 countries; the countries with the most sites are Italy (58), China (56), Germany (51), France (49), Spain (49), India (40), Mexico (35), the United Kingdom (33) and Russia (30).

Which country has the most World Heritage Sites 2022? ›

Italy, with 58 entries, has the highest number of World Heritage Sites.

What are the 3 types of heritage? ›

Introduction. The three elements used to describe historic heritage are Fabric, Stories and Culture. One or all of these things make up the historic heritage of a place.

What is UNESCO stand for? ›

What is the importance of World Heritage Sites? ›

A World Heritage Site is a cultural or natural landmark that has been recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). They are deemed worthy of preservation due to their universal value to humanity, in the present and for future generations.

When did Bangladesh join UNESCO? ›

Bangladesh became a member of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on 27 October 1972.

What are the top 2 most visited Unesco World Heritage sites? ›

Most Visited WHS
#World Heritage SiteVisited By
1Paris, Banks of the Seine1012
4Tower of London948
152 more rows

What was declared the first Unesco World Heritage Site? ›

The first World Heritage Site in the list is the Galápagos Islands. The 24th session in 2000 inscribed the most with 61 entries, while the 13th session in 1989 only inscribed seven sites. (F) denotes a country's first inscription.

Why should we preserve our heritage sites write three points? ›

Adaptive reuse of heritage buildings is an important factor in creating sustainable communities. A greater social inclusiveness can be achieved through heritage protection. Heritage places are an excellent educational resource for people of all ages.

What is the main aim of UNESCO in protecting heritage sites? ›

UNESCO works to protect and safeguard heritage so that future generations can enjoy, benefit and learn from the legacy of the past. For UNESCO, the safeguarding of heritage is a collective responsibility, as well as a powerful means of promoting peace – uniting the world's peoples around shared values.

Who started World Heritage Day? ›

The day was first observed first in 1983 by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It gained recognition as a world event during the 22nd General Conference of UNESCO. The aim in celebrating this day is to spread awareness about the cultural heritage and diversity on the planet.

What is the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site? ›

The Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the ancient fortress is another must-see. If you observe closely you'll see the blend of three architectural styles. Here you'll love the beautiful patios, the lush gardens and the Moorish baths. There is still so much to see on this historical route.

Which country has no heritage sites? ›

Somalia is the only country with no submissions for the Unesco World Heritage Sites list and travelling to the country isn't considered safe either.

Which country is known for heritage? ›

Italy and China take the crown as the countries with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. As the birthplace of the Roman Empire and the Renaissance, Italy has an abundance of culture: 53 of its 58 sites are cultural and 5 are natural.

Which city is removed from World Heritage? ›

Three sites have been completely delisted from the World Heritage List: the Arabian Oryx Sanctuary in Oman, the Dresden Elbe Valley in Germany and Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City in the United Kingdom.

Which country is rich in heritage? ›

When it comes to cultural heritage influence, Italy took the prestigious number one spot, according to the CEOWORLD magazine 2021 report, while Greece and Spain placed second and third, respectively.
World's Best Countries For Cultural Heritage Influence, 2021.
145 more rows
31 Jan 2021

What heritage means? ›

Heritage is the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture. Most important, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviors that we draw from them. Heritage includes, but is much more than preserving, excavating, displaying, or restoring a collection of old things.

What is a Grade 3 heritage site? ›

1.8 Grade III Built Environment Heritage Resources

This grading is applied to buildings and sites that have sufficient intrinsic significance to be regarded as local heritage resources; and are significant enough to warrant that any alteration is regulated.

What are the 3 main differences between heritage and culture '? ›

Heritage refers to the aspects of culture that are inherited from generation to generation; from past to present and to the future, while culture is the shared pragmatic knowledge that includes our behavioral as well as conceptual knowledge. Culture is the ideas, customs, beliefs, and social behavior that set us apart.

Who is the head of UNESCO? ›

Director-General, Audrey Azoulay | UNESCO.

Why UNESCO is created? ›

UNESCO was born in the wake of the two world wars that were to define a single generation. Nation states shared the firm conviction that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace, it was felt, must be forged on the basis of humanity's moral and intellectual solidarity.

When was UNESCO founded? ›

What is purpose of heritage? ›

Our heritage provides clues to our past and how our society has evolved. It helps us examine our history and traditions and enables us develop an awareness about ourselves. It helps us understand and explain why we are the way we are.

What are the benefits of heritage? ›

Social benefits

Socially, heritage assets have the ability to make contributions to an area's liveability and identity. In many cases, they are places that are a focus for community activities, such as public halls, schools, mechanics institutes, places of religious worship and parks.

What is the old name of UNESCO? ›

At the end of the conference, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded and the Constitution of UNESCO, signed on 16 November 1945, came into force on 4 November 1946.

What is the role of UNESCO in Bangladesh? ›

Established in 1996 the UNESCO Dhaka Office is committed to contribute to UNESCO's mission in Bangladesh and the region addressing social, cultural and economic dimensions of sustainable development through education, culture, communication and information.

Who recognized Bangladesh first? ›

Bhutan became the first country in the world to recognize the newly independent state on 6 December 1971.

Which country has 7 UNESCO World Heritage sites? ›

Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world.

Which city has 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites? ›

Cordoba recently earned its fourth UNESCO World Heritage Site, which meant it officially surpassed both Paris and Rome (a fact you can include after revealing the winning city so your friends don't feel so bad). The city has a population of roughly 325,000 people, making it the 22nd largest city in Spain.

What is the newest Unesco World Heritage Site? ›

Dholavira and Ramappa Temple are the latest addition to the list under the 'Cultural' category. 'Ramappa Temple', Telangana and 'Dholavira', Gujarat which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2021. This decision was made in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee's 44th session held in China.

How many types of World Heritage Sites are there? ›

Designating World Heritage sites

There are three types of sites: cultural, natural, and mixed.

What is a heritage site examples? ›

For example, World Heritage Sites might be ancient ruins or historical structures, buildings, cities, deserts, forests, islands, lakes, monuments, mountains, or wilderness areas.

Who list the world heritage sites? ›

A World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having special cultural or physical significance.

Who is the first heritage City? ›

Ahmedabad, the 606 year old walled city of Ahmedabad founded by emperor Ahmed Shah, has been conferred with India's first World Heritage City.

Which is the first city in UNESCO? ›


Why is it important to protect heritage? ›

Heritage conservation and other objectives

Its influence on the character of the environment and an area's sense of place. Its potential to be a catalyst for regeneration in an area, in particular through leisure, tourism and economic development.

Why is it important to protect and preserve our cultural heritage? ›

Cultural heritage is central to protecting our sense of who we are. It gives us an irrefutable connection to the past – to certain social values, beliefs, customs and traditions, that allows us to identify ourselves with others and deepen our sense of unity, belonging and national pride.

How can we protect our heritage? ›

Raise public awareness with regard to the cultural heritage both in the country and abroad; Develop training courses for law enforcement services, customs and judicial authorities, with the support of cultural institutions.

What are three main functions of UNESCO? ›

The main functions of UNESCO are to ensure that every child has access to a proper education, promoting cultural acceptance between nations while protecting historical sites, improving technology to aid in the distribution of resources and energy, and secure the safety of individual expression and basic human rights.

What is World Heritage in Bangladesh? ›

Bangladesh currently hosts three World Heritage Sites, the Sundarbans, the Buddhist Vihara at Paharpur and the mosque city of Bagerhat.

What are the 5 heritage sites? ›

Properties inscribed on the World Heritage List 40
  • Agra Fort (1983)
  • Ajanta Caves (1983)
  • Archaeological Site of Nalanda Mahavihara at Nalanda, Bihar (2016)
  • Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi (1989)
  • Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (2004)
  • Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) (2004)

Why is it called World Heritage? ›

World Heritage Sites are cultural and/or natural sites considered to be of 'Outstanding Universal Value', which have been inscribed on the World Heritage List by the World Heritage Committee. These places or buildings are thought to: have special importance for everyone.

Why is world heritage important? ›

World Heritage is the designation for places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

What city has 4 Unesco world heritage sites? ›

Cordoba: one destination with four World Heritage tours

Art, culture, tradition, history... Cordoba combines all of this within only 10 kilometres. It has three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Mosque of Cordoba, the Historic Centre and the Medina Azahara.

Which country has most Unesco World Heritage sites? ›

Italy is home to the largest number of UNESCO world heritage sites in the world. After the annual announcement of new sites by the UNESCO committee, the country now boasts 58 world heritage locations.

What are the 2 types of heritage? ›

The “World Heritage Convention” classifies the world heritage of humankind into two categories, 'cultural heritage' and 'natural heritage', clearly indicated in the title of the convention.

What was the first Unesco World Heritage Site? ›

The first World Heritage Site in the list is the Galápagos Islands.

What is heritage in history? ›

Our heritage is what we have inherited from the past, to value and enjoy in the present, and to preserve and pass on to future generations. Our heritage comprises of: the tangible - our historical sites, buildings, monuments, objects in museums, artefacts and archives.


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