The destroyed city is situated at a distance of eight kilometres to the south-west of English Bazaar, on an old channel of the Ganges. It was once the capital of the last Hindu dynasty of Bengal. Later, it became the capital of the first Muslim rulers, from the mid-fifteenth century to the mid-sixteenth century. The name is of considerable antiquity, but its known history commenced in about 1200, when it was conquered by Bakhtiyar Khalji, whose dynasty ruled for 300 years. In the year 1338, Fakhr-ud-Din established an independent Afghan kingdom at Pandua and Gaur lost most of its building stone at this time, but in the year 1500, it became the capital again. Humayun considered the city so beautiful that he renamed it Jannatabad, 'Abode of Paradise'. In the year 1537, it was sacked by Sher Shah Suri and in the year 1576, it was absorbed into the empire of Akbar, after the city had been devastated by plague a year earlier.
The old city of Gaur covers an extensive area, which is more than twenty square miles, now mostly cultivated. Most of the surviving ruins date back to the later period, with some Mughal remains. The Kotwali Darwaza, in the southern sector of the city, is now the border with Bangladesh. The dimensions of the city can be traced via the old embankments, which are seven and half miles from north to south and one to two miles from west to east. On the cast a double line of huge embankments protected the city from erosion by the Ganges, which has now receded many miles. On the north a six mile fortification curves across the countryside over 100 ft wide at its base.
The Fort within the city the Dakhil Darwaza and Lukachuri gates still exist. The former, to the north, is made of small red bricks with carved detail on the corner towers and a monumental central entrance. In the south-east corner was the old palace, enclosed by a brick wall of sixty six ft height, enriched with an ornamental cornice. It was known as the Bais Gaji or Twenty-two yards wall. The only remnants of original Hindu settlement are the tanks scattered throughout the city, the most important being the Sagar Dighi, a huge reservoir of water 1,463 meters by 731 meters and constructed in the year 1126. On its bank lies the Tomb of Shaikh Akhi Suraj-ud-Din and the small, six-domed Jhanjhaniya Mosque, constructed during the reign of Mahmud Shah. At Sadullapur, there is a burning ghat.
To the south-east corner of the fort are two mosques. The Qadam Rasul was constructed by Nusrat Shah to house a representation of the footprint of Prophet Muhammad. The south and north walls have rows of recessed panels and the arched entrances are carried on massive octagonal piers. To the north-east and south sides is a vaulted veranda. Close to the site is the Tomb of Fateh Khan, with a curved Bengali roof, the south-east gateway to the fort. At a distance of eight hundred meters to the north of the east wall is the Firuz Minar or Pir Asa Minar. It is a brick Victory Tower, 84 ft in height, with three polygonal stages holding two top circular storeys. There is a single arched opening at each level and a chajja divides the lower from the upper stages. The Sona Masjid is eight hundred meters to the north-west, the Golden Mosque or Baradarwazi, the largest building still standing in Gaur. It lies on the western side of a raised quadrangle with eleven arched openings facing the restored entrance gateway. The interior was covered with forty-four small domes supported on stone pillars, but only those which form a veranda to the front of the building survive, with the three aisles beyond. Constructed by Nusrat Shah, it is faced in plain stone. Traces of a raised platform or takht for the ladies can be seen in the north-west corner.
At a distance of eight hundred meters to the east of Qadam Rasul is the ruined Tantipara Mosque, with some of the finest brick detail in Bengal. There is an octagonal turret to each corner. The five entrance arches correspond with the mihrabs on the qibla wall. At a distance of eight hundred meters to the south is the Lattan Mosque or Painted Mosque, whose attribution is due to the bricks being enamelled in bright banded colours, of which traces remain. The single dome, carried on brick pendentives, is enriched with multi-coloured tiles. To the north, the Piasbari Tank is situated. In the south wall of the city the Kotwali Darwaza marking the border with Bangladesh. Once it had a monumental pointed entrance arch flanked by semicircular bastions, but it is now in ruins. Sixteen kilometers to the south, in the suburb of Firuzpur, is the Chota Sona Mosque or Lesser Golden Mosque, famously called the Gem of Gaur. It exhibits carved stone panels of intricate design in black basalt. The central corridor has typical Bengali 'char-chala' vaulting.
Within the fort ramparts, close to the Qadam Rasul, are the Lukachuri or East Gate, a two-storey building with guardrooms on each side constructed by using brick and stone with traces of plaster. The Chika Building was probably an office or jail and may date from the early 15th century. It is a plainly detailed structure with a large brick dome. It resembles the Eklakhi Tomb at Fandua. Immediately opposite is the Gumpti Darwaza, the eastern entrance to the old Imperial citadel. It is a small square structure with engaged corner turrets and a single dome. Fluted turrets flank the main entrance. Towards the east of the Lukachuri is the Chamkatti Mosque. It is a small dilapidated building with a single dome and a vaulted veranda to the east. Vestiges of a glazed tile and terracotta relief have remained.
Between the Kotwali gate and Mahadipur lies the ruined Gunmant Mosque, a multi-aisled mosque with a central, barrel-vaulted corridor influenced by the earlier Adina Mosque at Pandua. In a mango grove to the north-west is the ruined facade of an old Mughal mosque of the 17th century. Nothing now remains of the Darashari or Lecture Hall, a building similar to the Baradarwazi which lay between Mahadipur and Firuzpur. The Dhunichak Mosque is located in the southern suburbs. Only the west and north walls remain. Close to it is the Rajbibi Mosque. It is a rectangular structure with a domed square prayer chamber and triple-domed veranda. Also in the southern suburbs is the ruined Darasbari Mosque, possessing a central corridor flanked by aisles. The roof structures have long since fallen, but the design is unique.
The Tomb and Mosque of Shah Nimat Allah lie in Firuzpur, at a distance of eight hundred meters to the north-west of the Chota Sona Mosque. The mosque is attributed to Shah Shuja, Governor of Bengal. The sarcophagus lies in a square, central chamber surrounded by a domed, vaulted veranda. Apart form these; there are several historical monuments which offer a suitable opportunity for those interested in the history of India as well as general tourists.
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