- Devdatta Maitra
History of Gour
Gour or Gauda used to be the capital of Ancient Bengal, located in the banks of the Ganges; this is one of the oldest residential complexes of colonial India. Its unique history and architecture have attracted tourists from all over the world. This used to be the center of all major political and state affairs. It is familiar with the name Lakshmanavati as well but after the Muslims conquered the city its name changed to Lakhnauti. Most parts of this ancient city fall under present-day Malda district, West Bengal, and the rest in Bangladesh’s Chapai Nababganj district. This destination has quite a number of ancient monuments and their ruins within its perimeter. The most popular ones include Bada Darwaza, Eunuchs' Mosque, Tantipar Mosque, Dakhil Darwaza, Kadam Rasut Mosque, and Firoz Minar. Tucked away in the lap of lush greenery, this is the perfect place to discover and rediscover history.
Lukochuri Darwaza or the Shahi Darwaza was built during the reign of Shah Jahan, in Mughal architecture. It was the place where the guardsmen resided, on both sides of the gate. The gate was built by a Bengal subedaar Shah Shuja in 1655. The colossal gate is 65ft high and 42ft in width. The name lukochuri comes from the game Hide and seek which the sultan used to play with his begums.
Loton Masjid is another very intrinsic structure built during those times. Though the date of its establishment is debatable, some historians believe it was built by Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah in 1475. This structure was built upon red bricks and displays intricate designs on minars. The condition of the mosque in the present day is not that good. Though from the remnants we can make out that it was a very colorful structure often called the Painted Mosque.
Chamkan Masjid or the Chika Masjid built-in 1450, this dome structure was initially believed to be a cemetery but later Samrat Hussain Shah converted this into a jail. To the north of this masjid is the Gumti Darwaza. Hussain Shah built this in the year 1512. The terracotta carvings on the red bricks can still be seen in some parts of the Darwaza. To the right of the Lukochuri Darwaza, we come across Kadam Rasul Mosque. This mosque contains the footprints of Hazrat Muhammad. Baisgazi wall (22m) is a 22 m high wall built for the protection of the empire, it is believed to have been built during the reign of Ballala Sen. It is located 25kms from present-day Malda. The Wall has a pyramidal shape with its width of 15 feet at the base and approximately 9feet at the peak. Outliving the time, Baisgazi Wall in Gaur Malda looks greatly impressive to this date. The brick used in the construction is assumed to have been adorned with brilliantly stained terracotta tiles. Located at a faraway distance from the madness of the boisterous city, it is an unmissable destination for historians, archeologists, explorers that seek seclusion or solitude. Other than the historical artifacts, the place has mango trees and foxes in abundance. The next monument in Gaur is the Firoz Minar. 5 Storey tall this minar, was built by Saifuddin Firoz Shah of the Habshi Dynasty between 1485-1489. It was built in the Tughlaqui style of architecture. The first three storeys are octagonal while the last two are circular.
Dakhil Darwaza or the Salami Darwaza is the main entrance to the city of Gour. Built out of small red bricks with terracotta work in it, this is a masterpiece of the Mughal era. Baroduari or the Boro Sona Masjid was one of the most colossal structures ever built in Gaur. Sultan Hussain Shah started building this colossal structure, but it was completed by his son Sultan Nasrat Shah in the year 1526. A gigantic rectangular structure of brick and stone, this mosque is the largest monument in Gour. Though the name means Twelve Doors, this monument actually has eleven. The Indo-Arabic style of architecture and the ornamental stone carvings make Baroduari a special attraction for tourists. It is believed that during the reign of Hussain Shah, he had devout followers of Vaishnavism in his court called Roop and Sanatan Goswami. In the year 1509, they built the Madan Mohan Temple in Ramkeli. They wanted the temple and its nearby areas to resemble Vrindavan; hence the place is often regarded as Gupto Vrindavan. It is believed that in the year 1515, Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu himself visited this shrine. Tanti Para Mosque, a gigantic mosque built and completed by Sikander Shah in the year 1369. The mosque was named so because of its location in the weaver’s colony.
Gauda was one of the prominent capitals in the history of Bengal and the history of the Indian subcontinent. It was a center of stately medieval architecture. Gauda's ruins were depicted in the artwork of European painters during the 18th and 19th centuries. Colonial officials, such as Francis Buchanan-Hamilton and William Francklin, left detailed surveys of the former Bengali capital. When the Mughal Emperor Humayun invaded the region, he renamed the city as Jannatabad (heavenly city). Most of the surviving structures in Gauda are from the period of the Bengal Sultanate. The city was sacked by Sher Shah Suri. An outbreak of the plague contributed to the city's downfall. The course of the Ganges River was located near the city. A change in the course of the Ganges caused Gauda to lose its strategic importance. A new Mughal capital developed later in Dhaka. Gour has a lot of historical relics which has the mark of both Hindu and Islamic architecture. These sites, if maintained properly can be of great value historically as well as can attract tourists.