Religious Heritage Sites

The shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R), a major mystic of Bengal

The Shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) is a place of pilgrimage and a symbol of spirituality where thousands of devotees come to visit all the year-round. He is among the first preachers to come to Bengal to preach Islam. His legends and mysticism have been testified by the great traveller from Morocco, Ibn Batuta. In his travel accounts, Ibn Batuta described that Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) was a great saint of hoary age and a dervish with exceptional spiritual powers. (Banglapedia, 2015)


Gate to the shrine of Hazrat Shah Jalal (R) 

In the evening usually visitors pray at the shrine and light candles for showing respect to them. The visitors also enjoy themselves by feeding Bullseyes Snakehead (Channa marulius) fishes and tortoises in the pond of the shrine.

Star Mosque, an ornate Mosque at Dhaka

Star Mosque is a mosque located in Abdul Khairat Road, Armanitola, in the old part of Dhaka City. The mosque has ornate designs and is decorated with motifs of blue stars. It was built in the first half of the 19th century and still exerts its glory after all these days. The mosque, both inside and outside, is decorated with mosaic. Small chips of Chinaware-plate, cup etc. and pieces of glass have been used for mosaic. This type of mosaic is called 'Chini Tikri' work. Vase with flowers is an important decorative motif on the spandrel of the arches and elsewhere on the facade. Flower-vases, flower branches, Rosset, crescent, star, and Arabic calligraphic writing have been used in the decoration of the mosque. The outer wall between the doors is decorated with the motif of Fujisan (Mount Fuji) on glazed tiles and a crescent-and-star design decorates the upper part of the facade. Hundreds of blue stars have been created on the domes of white marble. All over the mosque the motif of stars dominates the decoration and so the mosque is called the Star Mosque. (Banglapedia, 2015)


Dhakeswari Temple, national temple of Bangladesh

Dhakeshwari Temple, the most prominent temple of Dhaka, is situated within a not too high boundary wall on the northern side of the Dhakeshwari Road, less than half a mile to the southwest of the Salimullah Hall of Dhaka University.The temple houses two notable deities- the ten-armed female deity, Dhakeswari and four-armed male deity, Vasudeva. The female deity has got the epithet Dhakeshwari as the patron deity of the city of Dhaka (Dhaka + ishwari). Thus, it is assumed that the deity belonged to the Maghs and the architectural features indicate its affinity to Arakanese structures This is the national temple of Bangladesh.

The main feature of this temple is the striking dissimilarity among other contemporary temples of its time. Moreover, the exact time of its construction is yet to be decided. Earliest reference indicates the time of Ballal Sen, 12th century king of Bengal. But its similarities with Arakan architecture refutes that. Many argue that it was built during by a Hindu agent of the East India Company. (Banglapedia, 2015) 

 There are four small temples of same size and shape on the north-eastern corner of the tank, which stand one after another from east to west. Each of them is built on a high plinth and approached by a flight of steps. The stairs of the eastern-most temple are made of marble. These temples with shikhara are square in plan and their roof was constructed in six gradually receding tiers with lotus and kalasa (pitcher) finials on top. Each of these is entered through narrow arched openings, one each on all sides except the north. There exists a projected band on linear decoration, and in between this band and the domical roof the walls are decorated with panels of semi-circular cusped arches. Each of the temples has a shiva linga inside. During every festival, the temple becomes a congregation of believers of Hindu religion.

Choto Sona Masjid, a gem of Sultanate Bengal

The small Sona Masjid is known as the 'jewel of Sultanate architecture'. It is located at the west-most border of Bangladesh-India in Gaur-Lakhnauti, once the capital of Bengal. 


The mosque got its name from a special feature. It had gilding made of gold which had been depleted by the course of time yet the glory remains. The characters in the inscription have been withered along with the exact date of construction. However, from the mention of the name of Sultan Alauddin Hussain Shah, it is clear that the mosque was built at some point during his reign (1494-1519).  Its stone structure and ornamentations on the wall and mihrab are still remarkable and eye-catchy. The glamour of Chhota Sona Masjid has now diminished, but it still remains the most attractive monument of Gaur-Lakhnauti and the most desired spot for visitors to the area. (Banglapedia, 2014)

Baitul Mukarram National Mosque, Dhaka

Baitul Mukarram, also spelled as Baytul Mukarrom is the National Mosque of Bangladesh. Located at the center of Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, the mosque was completed in 1968. The mosque has a capacity of 30,000, giving it the respectable position of being the 10th biggest mosque in the world. Bangladesh government has added extensions to the mosque, thus increasing the capacity to at least 40,000. The mosque complex was designed by architect, T Abdul Hussain Thariani and the first prayer was held in 1963.


A Mosque without a dome over the roof of its main prayer hall must have been a unique experiment. The Baitul Mukarram mosque is modern in its architectural style. But it has not discarded traditional principles of mosque architecture. It has found its place in the hearts of the Muslims because of the resemblance of its form to the famous Kaba at Mecca. (Banglapedia, 2015)

Tahkhana Complex, Nawabganj

Tahkhana is a Persian word which literally means cold building or palace. The building structure on the west bank of a large pond near Choto Sona Masjid is traditionally known as Tahkhana. There are two more structures to the north-west of the building, the nearest one being a three-domed mosque and the other is a tomb surrounded by a vaulted veranda a little to the north.


The architectural features of the buildings represent a blend of Mughal and Sultanate style of architecture. Later historical accounts indicate that its builder was the Mughal Subahdar Shah Shuja (1639-160 AD). The two-story building is basically made of brick. However, black stone has been used for the door frame and wooden beams for the flat roof. Looking at the building from the west, it looks like a one-storey building, but from the east, it looks like a two-storey building, with rooms on the ground floor extended to the east and arches rising directly from the reservoir. On the south side of the building is a bathroom where water was supplied from a reservoir through an octagonal basin.On the north side is a small family mosque with an open room at the back which was connected to an octagonal tower room. This tower room was probably used for meditation. The octagonal tower provided balance to all the complexes. The palace is plastered and carved. These ornaments are from Mughal period. The Tahkhana complex as a whole is important not only from the point of view of its being Mughal in a Sultanate city, but the component buildings by themselves have much significance because of their architectural character, first introduced in Bengal. (Banglapedia, 2014)

Shakti Peethas according to Hindu belief

It is believed by the Hindus that several organs and ornaments of goddess Sati fell on earth when after her self-immolation, Shiva and Vishnu scattered those through the whole subcontinent. Six of them are said to be in Bangladesh, though there are disputes. These are considered very sacred to Hindu believers. The temples are in many places in the country. The following list briefly states the six shakti peethas and their supposed locations with the believed part of the goddess. (Travels, n.d.)

Shakti Peetha Location Body Part or Ornament
Jeshoreshwari Ishwaripur, Shyamnagar Upzilla, Satkhira Palms
Sugandha     Uttar Shikarpu, Wazirpur Upazilla, Barishal Nose
Bhabanipur Aparna Bhabanipur, Sherpur Upazilla, Bogra Left anklet
Jayanti      Baurbhag,Kanaighat Upazilla, Sylhet Left thigh
 Shree Shail Mahalaxmi Gotatikor, Dakshin Surma Upazilla, Sylhet Neck
Chattal Bhabani Chandranath Hill, Sitakunda Upzilla, Chattogram Right arm

Most of these places are ancient in origin and resemble no particular style of architecture. But their significance in terms of religion is really deep. 


Chandranath Temple, Chattogram [Source]

Kusumba Mosque, a marble of the past

Kusumba Mosque is named after the village of Kusumba, under the Manda upazila of Naogaon district, on the west bank of the river Atrai. It is inside a walled enclosure with a monumental gateway that has standing spaces for guards.

It was built during the period of Afghan rule in Bengal under one of the last Suri rulers Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah in 1558-59.

Although built during Suri rule, it is not influenced at all by the earlier Suri architecture of North India and is well-grounded in the Bengal style. The brick building, gently curved cornice, and the engaged octagonal corner towers are typical features.

The stone used in the exterior facing is of course quality and carved in shallow relief. Mouldings are the most prominent decorative feature on the outside. They divide the walls into upper and lower sections, run all along the curved cornice in a straight line below the cornice. And frame the rectangular panels in the east, south, and north walls. The spandrels of the central entrance arch are filled with small pitcher and rosette motifs. The north and south sides have screened windows. (Banglapedia, 2014)


Bagha Mosque, a terracotta masterpiece

Bagha Mosque, situated at Bagha, about 40 km southeast of Rajshahi town, survives in a fairly good state of preservation. The four exterior angles of this brick-built structure are emphasised with octagonal towers, divided into sections by moulded bands and topped over with polygonal solid cupolas. The cornice of the building is gently curved in the Bengali fashion.


The mosque is noteworthy for its exquisite terracotta ornamentation. All the archways and mihrabs are set within decorated rectangular frames, while the spaces around the mihrabs and archways are enriched with highly ornate rectangular panels, one above the other. One such panel in the eastern facade is encircled by a frame of tendrils and contains an exuberant engrailed and floriate arch. From the apex of this arch hangs a conventionalised chain motif, which ultimately evolves into a fantastic grape cluster. (Banglapedia, 2015)

Armenian Church, a remnant of a distant past

An epitaph of a historical community of Bangladesh still lives through the Armenian Church of Armanitola of Old Dhaka. Once a prominent and influential community, Armenians, was at the heart of key commercial activities of Dhaka from the 17th century onwards. This church was built in 1781. The Armenians, followers of orthodox denominations of Christianity, have this significant mark on the pages of Dhaka through this magnificent piece of architecture. (Banglapedia, 2014)

Atiya Mosque, a mosque with local touch

Atiya Mosque is situated in the village of Atiya under Delduar Upajilla in Tangail district, about six kilometers south of the district headquarters. This 17th-century mosque is small in size, measuring externally 18.29m x 12.19m with 2.23m thick walls. It is rectangular in plan, consisting of a square single domed prayer chamber and an attached rectangular corridor on the eastern side covered with another three smaller domes.


The eastern facade has three arched entrances; the middle one is slightly larger than the others. The arches are of the four-centered variety. The main prayer chamber is accessible from the corridor through three smaller doorways. The mosque has four other openings, two each on the south and north sides. On the qibla wall, there are three decorated mihrabs, the central one has an external projection on the west side. The most striking of all the features of the mosque is the curvilinear cornice, a thoroughly indigenous feature of Bengal architecture, the origin of which may reasonably be traced to ordinary thatched huts with drooping eaves. Here, the transformation of bamboo and thatched constructions into brick architecture is aesthetically pleasing and structurally expedient. (Banglapedia, 2014)

Shiva Temple, Puthia Complex

The Shiva Temple is the largest Shiva temple in Bangladesh. It was built in 1823 by Rani Bhubonmoyee Devi, the widow of Raja Jagat Narayan Roy. This ornate temple is an imposing and excellent example of the five-spire style (Pancha Ratna) architecture of temple. The corridors have a touch of Jaipuri architecture and in the sanctuary. Here lies a very large black basalt Shiva Linga, the largest in the country. It is decorated with stone carvings and sculptural works, which were disfigured during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The temple is now a protected monument. (BTB, 2020)


Catholic Presence in Bangladesh:

With the arrival of the Portuguese in Chattogram, the history of Christian started in Bangladesh in the 16th century. Their missionaries were granted permission to preach Christianity in Bangladesh through an understanding between Pope and King of Portugal. (Islam, 2014) Currently, the country is divided into 2 archdioceses: Dhaka and Chattogram. These two institutions, headed by two archbishops, are responsible for the .4 million Christian believers in the country. (Weller, 2012) 

The CSC (Congregatio a Sancta Cruce), The Holy Cross Congregation, a catholic congregation has a very active presence and remarkable contribution to the society of Bangladesh. They are currently administering Notre Dam College, and Holy Cross College, two pioneering educational institutions in the capital. (Patrick D'Rosario, C.S.C., Archbishop of Dhaka, was created a Cardinal by Pope Francis). Cardinal D'Rosario is the first Cardinal ever from Bangladesh. They also have activities in Noakhali. (Cross, 2021)

The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, Chattogram

Furthermore, another Christian NGO, The Leprosy Mission has been providing noteworthy support in tackling leprosy in the country since 1926. They administer a hospital in Nilphamari which is the only hospital in the country that provides reconstructive surgery and treatment for the complications of leprosy. (Mission, 2021)

Protestant footprints in Bangladesh:

The presence of Protestant denominations in Bangladesh started as early as the 18th century through William Carey, an ardent preacher, and a social reformer. His earnest efforts in preaching and getting acclimatized with the Bengal had a long-lasting effect on society. (Sufia, 2014) Still, Bangladesh has a sizable amount of Protestant community under an umbrella called the Church of Bangladesh where Anglican and Presbyterian denominations are prominent. (Bangladesh, 2021)

Church of Bangladesh has an old and symbolic church in Barishal city named Oxford Mission Epiphany Church. The architecture of the building resembles Greek style.

Rajbana Vihara, Rangamati:

Located in Rangamati City, Rajabana Vihara is surrounded on three sides by the gorgeous Kaptai Lake, this place is sure to bring peace to eyes. The much-revered Venerable Sadhanananda Mahathera, colloquially known as Banabhante, stayed here till his Parinirvana in 2012. Devotees from across the country and world used to come here to hear the valuable words of Banabhante. The structures here resemble the architectural style seen in Myanmar and Thailand. The complex houses a 7-storied heaven house, signifying the seven heavens described in Buddhist scripts. Moreover, a World Peace Pagoda will be open here soon. Two Bodhi trees originated from the sacred Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya have been planted here. (Vihara, n.d.)

 A historic prayer hall of Sikhs, Gurdwara Nanak Shahi, Dhaka

Gurdwara Nanak Shahi is the principal Sikh Gurdwara in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the Sikh community. It is located at the campus of the University of Dhaka and is considered to be the biggest of the 9 to 10 Gurdwaras in the country. It is said that this structure had been visited by Guru Nanak in 1506-1507. This Gurdwara is said to have been built in 1830. Besides, the founder Guru, Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Guru of the Sikhs also stayed at Dhaka for over two years as is widely believed.


Kirtan is conducted every Friday and free weekly langar is regularly served after the prayer. (Banglapedia, 2014)

Akhda of Lalon Shah, the emperor of Baul

Lalon Shah, a preceptor of baul asceticism, composer, and singer of Baul songs, lies in rest in Kushtia, just beside the Kaliganga river. Lalon, being widely considered as the epitome of religious tolerance, has inspired Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Allen Ginsberg through his soulful words and songs. 


The main theme of the songs of Lalon Shah is the concept that 'the body is the seat of all truths'. Baul asceticism is based on the supremacy of the guru or preceptor. The main objective of Baul ascetic practice is to trace and get the company of the inherent and formless Supreme Being that can only be achieved by divine love, devotion, and meditation. The guru devises the way of devotional success and salvation. This metaphysics have allegorically been expressed in the songs of Lalon. He famously renounces casteism through a song:

“All the people ask as to what caste Lalon belongs to here on earth
Lalon says I have not yet seen what is the form of a caste.”

Lalon had the materials of his songs from the Hindu and Buddhist religious behests, the Vaishnava Sahajiya doctrine, and Sufism.  His followers still follow that thought of universal unity through a humane worldview.  Twice a year, spiritual seekers from all around the world gather here to commemorate his teachings and legacy. (Banglapedia, 2015)

Bikrampur, the birthplace of Atisa, a Buddhist reformer

A major proponent of Buddhist reformation, Atisa, was born in a royal family hailing from Bikrampur, Munshiganj, only 15 km south of the capital. Although the location of his hometown couldn’t be identified exactly, it is widely accepted that Atisa was born and passed a significant amount of time of his life here.

Apart from these, there are some major spiritually enlightening places that are as is believed by many:

Mosque of Binat Bibi
Narinda, Old Dhaka
Sat Gambuj Mosque
Dhanmondi, Dhaka
Adinath Temple
Maheshkhali, Cox’s Bazar
Bibi Maryam Mosque
Killarpur, Narayanganj
Shrine of Shah Amanat Shah
Patharghata, Chattogram
Eleven Shiva Temple
Vatpara, Abhaynagar, Jashore
Khan Md Mridha Mosque
Lalbagh, Dhaka
Ashram of Loknath Brahmachari
Barodi, Narayanganj
Buddha Dhatu Jadi
Bandarban City
Puthia Temple City
Puthia, Rajshahi
Nandan Kanan Buddhist Monastery
Rang U Ramkut Buddhist Monastery
Ramu, Cox’s Bazar

Bangladesh, the land of mysticism and spirituality, awaits your visit with open arms at any time of the year.