Aggameda Khyang Monastery in Cox’s Bazar
The beach resort town of Cox’s Bazar in the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh is rich in history, culture and natural beauty, and is a very popular tourist destination. Located near the entrance to the town, nestled in the shade of ancient trees, visitors will find the tranquil and superbly decorated Aggameda Khyang monastery which is revered by the more than 400,000 Buddhists living in the area.
The main sanctuary of the monastery is raised on a series of round columns made from timber. A large prayer chamber and an assembly hall are included in the main sanctuary, as well as a room serving as a repository for a significant collection of images of Buddha, many of which are cast in bronze. Most of these images originated in Burma. The repository also contains ancient manuscripts which are of significance to the worshippers associated with the Aggameda Khyang monastery.
To the south of the main sanctuary, visitors will come across an elevated wooden pavilion, as well as a smaller temple made of bricks and timber with a corrugated metal roof. Above the entrance to the temple is an inscription written in Burmese and the temple itself contains an interesting collection of large statues of Buddha made from different materials, including bronze.
About 0.7% of the population of Bangladesh adheres to Buddhism, which is the third largest religion in the country. The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Bangladesh provides assistance to maintain the Buddhist places of worship, some of which date back to between the seventh and ninth centuries A.D. The majority of Buddhists in Bangladesh live in the south-eastern district of Chittagong and the Chittagong Hill Tracts, with some found in Barisal, Comilla, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi and Sylhet. It is understandable then, that the Aggameda Khyang monastery is viewed as an important place of worship in the region with the highest density of adherents of Buddhism. There are several other monasteries in Buddhist villages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and these generally incorporate a school where Buddhist boys learn to read Burmese and Pali – an ancient scriptural language used in Buddhism.
So, if you have the opportunity to travel to Bangladesh, why not put the charming resort town of Cox’s Bazar on your list of places to explore – and while you are there you should make a point of visiting the fascinating Aggameda Khyang monastery.