The quadrangular structure consists of 177 cells and a traditional Buddhist stupa in the centre. The rooms were used by the monks for accommodation and meditation. In addition to the large number of stupas and shrines of various sizes and shapes, terracotta plaques, stone sculptures, inscriptions, coins, ceramics etc. have been discovered. The site houses the architectural remains of a vast Buddhist monastery, Somapura Mahavihara, covering 27 acres. It was an important intellectual centre for Dharmic Traditions such as Buddhists, Jains and Hindus alike.
The 21 acre complex has 177 cells, viharas, numerous stupas, temples and a number of other ancillary buildings. The outside walls with ornamental terracotta palques still display the influence of these three religions. In acreage, Somapura was the largest of the mahaviharas. Its architecture was unusual. As one scholar described, the complex was dominated by a temple, which was not typical, and further, the temple had "none of the characteristic features of Indian temple architecture, but is strongly reminiscent of Buddhist temples of Burma, Java and Cambodia, reproducing the cruciform basement, terraced structure with inset chambers and gradually dwindling pyramid form during the age of the Palas some sort of intercourse between eastern India and south-east Asia existed but how this temple type, represented in India by this solitary example, became the standard of Buddhist temple architecture is not known." Another commented, "there can be no doubt that this style of architecture has most profoundly influenced that of Burma, Java and Cambodia. The nearest approximation to the plan and the superstructure of the Paharpur temple is afforded by the temples known as Chandi Loro Jongrang and Chandi Sevu of Prambanam in Central Java."