Gauḍa (city)

Historic city of Bengal

Gauḍa, Gaur, or Gour, also known as Lakhnauti, is a ruined city on the Indo-Bangladesh border, most of the former citadel is located in the present-day Malda district of West Bengal, India, while a smaller part is located in Nawabganj District of Bangladesh. This city was on the east bank of the Ganges river, 40 kilometres (25 mi) downstream from Rajmahal, 12 km south of Malda. Howeverver, the current course of the Ganges is far away from the ruins.

An old monument in Gauḍa.


  • “…In the second year after this arrangement Muhammad Bakhtyar brought an army from Behar towards Lakhnauti and arrived at the town of Nudiya, with a small force; Nudiya is now in ruins. Rai Lakhmia (Lakhminia) the governor of that town… fled thence to Kamran, and property and booty beyond computation fell into the hands of the Muslims, and Muhammad Bakhtyar having destroyed the places of worship and idol temples of the infidels founded Mosques and Monasteries and schools and caused a metropolis to be built called by his own name, which now has the name of Gaur.
    There where was heard before
    The clamour and uproar of the heathen,
    Now there is heard resounding
    The shout of ‘Allaho Akbar’.”
    • About Ikhtiyaru’d-Din Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khalji (AD 1202-1206) Navadvipa (Bengal) Muntakhabu’t-Tawarikh, translated into English by George S.A. Ranking, Patna Reprint 1973, Vol. I, p. 82-83
  • “In order to erect mosques and tombs the Muhammadans pulled down all Hindu temples they could lay their hands upon for the sake of the building materials…
    • Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report 1902-3, p. 52.. Quoted from Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1990). Hindu temples: What happened to them. [1]
  • “The oldest and the best known building at Gaur and Pandua is the Ãdîna Masjid at Pandua built by Sikandar Shãh, the son of Ilyãs Shãh. The date of its inscription may be read as either 776 or 770, which corresponds with 1374 or 1369 A.D… The materials employed consisted largely of the spoils of Hindu temples and many of the carvings from the temples have been used as facings of doors, arches and pillars…”
    • Archaeological Survey of India, Annual Report 1902-3, p. 52.. Quoted from Shourie, A., & Goel, S. R. (1990). Hindu temples: What happened to them. [2]
  • “Muhammad Bakhtiyar sweeping the town with the broom of devastation, completely demolished it, and making anew the city of Lakhnauti… his metropolis, ruled over Bengal… and strove to put in practice the ordinances of the Muhammadan religion… and for a period ruling over Bengal he engaged in demolishing the temples and building mosques.”
    • Ikhtiyãru’d-Dîn Muhammad Bakhtiyãr Khaljî (AD 1202-1206) Lakhnauti (Bengal) Riyãzu’s-Salãtîn: Riyuz-us-Salatin, translated into English by Abdus Salam, Delhi Reprint, 1976, pp. 63-64.
  • “Shaikh Jalalu’d-Dîn had many disciples in Bengal. He first lived at Lakhnauti, constructed a khanqah and attached a langar to it. He also bought some gardens and land to be attached to the monastery. He moved to Devatalla (Deva Mahal) near Pandua in northern Bengal. There a kafir (either a Hindu or a Buddhist) had erected a large temple and a well. The Shaikh demolished the temple and constructed a takiya (khanqah) and converted a large number of kafirs… Devatalla came to be known as Tabrizabad and attracted a large number of pilgrims.”125
    • About Shykh Jalãlu’d-Dîn Tabrizî (AH 533-623) (He was the second most outstanding disciple of Shykh Shihabu’d-Dîn Suhrawardî (AD 1145-1235), founder of the Suhrawardiyya silsilã of Sufism. Having lived in Multan, Delhi and Badaun, he finally settled down in Lakhanauti, also known as Gaur or Gauda, in Bengal.) Lakhnauti, Devatala (Bengal) . Siyaru’l-‘Ãrifîn, S.A.A. Rizvi in A History of Sufism in India. Vol. I, New Delhi, 1978, pp. 201-02.
  • During the expedition to Bengal, "on either side of the principal bazar (of Lakhnauti), in a street two miles in length, a row of stakes was set up and the adherents of Tughril were impaled upon them".....
    • K.S. Lal. Theory and Practice of Muslim State in India (1999)
  • Bakhtiar Khilji “established a Muslim capital in Lakhanauti (Gaur) on the Ganga and destroyed, in 1197, its basalt temples. In Odantpuri, in 1202, he massacred two thousand Buddhist monks....
    • Louis Frederic, L'Inde de l'Islam, p. 42-49, (quoted from: Decolonizing the Hindu Mind - By Koenraad Elst p. 328)
  • “Creighton says, ‘It appears to have been the general practice of the Muhammadan conquerors of India, to destroy all the temples of the idolaters, and to raise Mosque out of their ruins.’ The statement is of course a gross exaggeration, for innumerable contemporary Hindu and Buddhist temples still exist in the cities of India once conquered by the Muslims. ‘Abid ‘Ali seems to have carried the observation of Creighton further when he remarks, ‘It seems to the writer that the builder of the Mosque [Chhoto Sona Masjid at Gaud] had collected the stones containing the figure of the Hindu gods from the citadel of Gaur where temples must have existed in the time of the earlier Hindu kings.’ (...) In the event of a prodigious abundance of Hindu temple building material scattered all over the province, it is difficult to pin-point the provenance of each stray sculptured piece used in the mosques of Gaud and Hazrat Pandua. The existence of any Hindu temple in the citadel or outside Gaud as ‘Abid ‘Ali tells us, is as difficult to prove as to obviate the fact that no material was taken from Devikot or Bannagar in Dinajpur. Contradicting the views of ‘Abid ‘Ali, Stapleton says, ‘On the other hand from Manrique’s statement that in 1641, he saw figures of idols standing in niches surrounded by carved grotesques and leaves in some stone reservoirs in Gaur, it is possible that except during periods of persecution the Muhammadan Kings of Gaur allowed idols and Hindu temples to remain unmolested in their capital.’ Although examples of the use of Hindu material are not scarce, as proved by the discovery of three sculptured figures from Mahisantosh with Muslim ornament on the reverse side, now in the Varendra Research Society Museum, it would be wrong to say after Creighton that all the Hindu temples were desecrated by the Muslims to procure building material… (...) One of the strongest advocates of the Indianized form of Muslim structures is Havell, who is too intolerant to allow any credit to the Muslim builders for the use of radiating arches, domes, minarets, delicate relief works. He maintains that the central mihrab of the Adina Masjid at Hazrat Pandua is so obviously Hindu in design as hardly to require comments. While Havell writes that ‘The image of Vishnu or Surya has trefoil arched canopy, symbolizing the aura’ of the god, of exactly the same type as the outer arch of the mihrab, Beglar says that the Muslims delighted in ‘placing the sanctum of his orthodox cult (in this case the main prayer niche) on the spot, where hated infidel had his sanctum’. Saraswati is even more emphatic on this point when he contends, ‘An examination of the stones used in the construction of the Adina Masjid (one of them bearing a Sanscrit inscription, recording merely a name of Indranath, in the character of the 9th century AD) and those lying about in heaps all round, reveals the fact, which no careful observer can deny, that most of them came from temples that once stood in the vicinity.’ Ilahi Bakhsh, Creighton, Ravenshaw, Buchanan-Hamilton, Westmacott, Beglar, Cunnigham, King, and a host of other historians and archaeologists bear glowing testimony to the utilization of non-muslim materials, but none of them ventured to say that existing temples were dismantled and materials provided for the construction of magnificent monuments in Gaud and Hazrat Pandua...
    • Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Dacca (Bangladesh), 1979.
  • “Creighton drew the sketches of a few Hindu sculptures which were evidently used in the Chhoto Sona Masjid at Gaud. These are the image of Sivani, the consort of Siva, Varahaavatara or Vishnu in the form of a Boar, Brahmani, consort of Brahma. In the British Museum there are a few images of Hindu and Buddhist character, such as the Brahmani, sketched by Creighton, and the seated Buddha figure. The Muslim builders out of sheer expediency felt no scruple to use these fragments in their mosques by concealing the carved sides into the wall and utilizing the flat reverse side of these black basalts for arabesque design in shallow carvings. Piecemeal utilization of Hindu sculptures were also to be seen in the earlier monuments, such as, the Mosque and Tomb of Zafar Khan at Tribeni, the Mosque at Chhoto Pandua, the Adina Masjid at Hazrat Pandua, etc. ... Cunningham found in the pulpit of the Adina Masjid ‘a line of Hindu sculpture of very fine bold execution.’ Innumerable Hindu lintels, pillars, door-jambs, bases, capitals, friezes, fragments of stone carvings, dadoes, etc., have been utilized in such a makeshift style as to render ‘improvisation’ well-nigh impossible. In many cases as observed in the Quwwat al-Islam at Delhi and the Arhai-din-ka-Jhopra Mosque at Ajmer, pillars were inverted, joining the base with capitals, suiting neither pattern nor size. Still there is no denying the fact that Hindu materials were utilized, yet it would be far-fetched to say that existing Hindu temples were dismantled and converted by improvisation into mosques as observed in the early phase of Muslim architecture in Indo-Pak sub-continent. The ritual needs and structural properties of the Hindus and the Muslims are so diametrically opposite as to deter any compromise and, therefore, the early Muslim conquerors of Bengal said their prayer in mosques built out of the fragments of Hindu materials in the same way as their predecessors did at Delhi, Ajmer, Patan, Janupur, Dhar and Mandu, and elsewhere. In the event [absence?] of any complete picture of pre-Muslim Hindu art as practised in Gaud and Hazrat Pandua, it is an exaggeration to hold the view after Saraswati that ‘indeed, every structure of this royal city (Hazrat Pandua) discloses Hindu materials in its composition, thus, disclosing that no earlier monument was spared.”
    • Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Dacca (Bangladesh), 1979. 163-172
  • “…Both Cunningham and Marshall accept Creighton’s suggestion that the Lattan Masjid was built in the year AH 880/AD 1475…446... “The qibla wall has three semi-circular niches, the central one being bigger than the side ones. These are all encrusted with glazed tiles. The mihrab to the north of the central niche has fragments of Hindu sculpture built into it… “…Although less ornate than those of the southern prayer chamber in the Adina Masjid, the Tantipara Masjid pillars have square bases, moulded bands and cubical abaci. Brown says that the pillars of this mosque are ‘of the square and chamfered variety originally part of a Hindu temple’, but this was not so. They are contemporary with the building. Certainly work of this character is known in Hindu building, and this seems to have misled Brown.“…Two rows of chamfered pillars, each carrying 5 pointed arches, divide the interior of the [Chhoto Sona] Mosque into 3 longitudinal aisles. In each row there are 4 pillars of black basalt which in their moulded string-courses, cubical pedestal, dog-tooth ornament and square abacus recall those of the supporting pillars of the zenana gallery in the Adina Masjid. Evidently they are much more attenuated in shape in the Chhoto Sona Masjid than those in the Adina Masjid. It is hard to ascertain their origins, but considering the enormous quantity of Hindu spoil used in the Chhoto Sona Masjid (Pls. XLI, XLII) and comparing its pillars with the carved stone pillars at the Bari Dargah which originally must have been brought from the Adina Masjid it may be said that they were taken from unidentifiable Hindu temples. “…Many of the stones used for casing the wall to give the illusion of a stone monument from distance are evidently Hindu. To quote Creighton, ‘The stone used in these mosques had formerly belonged to Hindu temples destroyed by the zealous Muhammadans,’ as will be evident from an inspection of Plates XLI and XLII, representing two slabs taken from this Building. Creighton’s painting XVI represents a stone with the image of the Hindu deity, Vishnu, in the Boar incarnation, with shallow diaper carving on the reverse side. The figure of Sivani, the consort of Siva, one of the Hindu triad, appears on another stone sketched by Creighton. The mother figure evidently drawn from sculptured stones used in the Small Golden Mosque is that of Brahmani... It is very interesting to point out in connection with the figure of Brahmani that it agrees in meticulous execution of details and perfection of style with that of the British Museum piece. Therefore, it is certain that Creighton drew his sketch from this black stone which curiously displays diaper work on the other side (Pl. XLIb) similar to that of Creighton’s Plate XVI. Arabesque design in shallow stone carving, resembling delicate tapestry, appears also in another superb black basalt piece, shown in Plate XLIb, now in the British Museum. It has the image of a seated Buddha on one side thereby again indicating the utilization of non-Muslim material (Pl. XLIIa). This fascinating piece may well be attributed to the Chhoto Sona Masjid on the grounds of the close similarity of its diaper work with that of the stone sketched by Creighton in his Plate XVI, and of the existence of gilding in the shallow carvings of the diaper work.”
    • Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Dacca (Bangladesh), 1979.

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