Pandua, Malda

town in Maldah district

Pandua is a ruined city in the Malda district of the Indian state of West Bengal. Pandua is now almost synonymously known as Adina, a small town located about 18 km North of English Bazar (or Malda Town).


  • “An anecdote relating to Shaikh Jalalu’d-Din’s stay in Deva Mahal reads like other stock-in-trade stories and fairytales. It was related by such an authority as Gisu Daraz. According to him Shaikh Jalalu’d-Din stayed at Pandua in the house of a flower vendor. On the day of his arrival, he found each of the house members crying. On enquiry he was told there was a demon in the temple who daily ate a young man. It was the king’s duty to provide the demon with his daily food. On that day it was the turn of the young son in the family. The Shaikh requested them to send him in place of their son but they refused to accept the offer for fear of the king. The Shaikh, then followed the young man to the temple and killed the demon with a single blow from his staff. When the king accompanied by his retinue reached the temple to worship the demon they were amazed to find the demon killed and an old man dressed in black with his head covered with a blanket. The Shaikh invited them to see the fate with their god. The sight of their vanquished idol prompted them to accept Islam.”
    • Anecdote about Shykh Jalãlu’d-Dîn Tabrizî (AH 533-623) at Pandua. Jawamiu’l Kilãm in S.A.A. Rizvi in History of Sufism in India, New Delhi, 1978, Vol. I, pp. 201-202, footnote 4.
  • “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.”
    • 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.
  • Shaykh Jalal ad-Din Tabrizi demolished a large temple and constructed a Takiyah (khanqah) at Devatalla (Deva Mahal) in Bengal...
    • Harsh Narain, Myths of Composite Culture and Equality of Religions (1990)
  • The Indian Museum, Calcutta, as well as the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad Museum, Calcutta, acquired a large number of architectural objects from the ancient sites of Bengal, particularly, Gaud, Hazrat Pandua, Bagerhat, Hughli, Rajshahi, Dinajpur and elsewhere. Besides freshly quarried basalts, a large quantity of locally available building materials was employed by the architects of Gaud, Hazrat Pandua and elsewhere. Ravenshaw’s unwarranted observation that ‘Though it (Hazrat Pandua) cannot boast of such antiquity as Gaud, its remains afford stronger evidence than those of the latter city of its having been constructed mainly from the materials of Hindoo buildings’, has been brushed aside by Westmacott, who thinks that Hazrat Pandua is older than Gaud. 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 (Pl. III) 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 (Fig. 3b & Pl. V), 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.
  • The British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, both in London, the Indian Museum and the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad Museum, both at Calcutta, Varendra Research Society Museum, Rajshahi, provide large specimens of carved stones and architectural fragments used in the monuments of pre-Mughal Bengal. Ravenshaw photographed a circular stone pedestal and a gargoyle, which is now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Used obviously as the gargoyle in the Adina Masjid, it ‘consists of a modification of an elephant’s head with the eyes, horns and ears of a sardula (elephant).’ 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.
  • “Beglar traces the origin of the Adina Masjid to pre-Muslim sources… He bases his arguments on the point that if the Adina Masjid occupies the site of a pre-Muslim Hindu temple, the name may be a reminiscent of Adisur, the so-called founder of the hitherto unidentified temple dating from the 7th century AD; however, he does not know that there is a mosque at Patan, called Adina, and that it is a Persian term for Friday. The use of fragments of Hindu or Buddhist architectural works in the Masjid do [does?] not prove that the site was pre-Muslim. They may have been brought there…” “…Beglar suggests that the mihrab of the Adina Masjid was transferred from a Hindu temple. He says, ‘Of the Hindu sculpture, the most striking and superb is beyond question the trefoil arch and pillars of the main prayer niche.’ But there are no grounds for his assertion. The Adina Masjid mihrab, forming a single work of art, must be accepted as contemporary with the fabric of the Masjid itself. But it must be admitted that the style is local… “Particular attention has been drawn to the curiously interesting designs of the archivolt of the niche. The conventional grotesque Lion’s head at the crown and the Kinnara and Kinnari at the haunches, which appear in the lintel of the Vaishnava temple from Gaud, according to many scholars have been transformed into graceful foliage, palmette and sensuous tendrils…“The discovery of an odd fragment of Hindu sculpture found built into the steps of the staircase has led many scholars to ascribe a pre-Muslim origin to the Adina Masjid. As Cunningham puts it, ‘The steps leading up to the pulpit have fallen down, and, on turning over one of the steps I found a line of Hindu sculpture of very fine and bold execution… The main ornament is a line of circular panels… formed by continuous intersecting lotus stalks. These are five complete panels, and two half-panels which have been cut through. These two contain portions of an elephant and a rhinoceros. In the complete panels are: (i) cow and a calf; (ii) human figures broken; (iii) a goose; (iv) a man and woman and a crocodile; (v) two elephants. The carving is deep and the whole has been polished.’ This sculpture is still visible. It is, therefore, clear that the exigencies of the circumstances led to the utilization of some Hindu materials available on the site. Nevertheless, such mutilated fragments hardly testify to the fact that the Adina Masjid was built on the ruins of an ancient Indian temple... “The western wall of the northern prayer hall is pierced by two openings on either side of die zenana gallery, which reduce the number of niches (Fig. 3) between the pilaster of the back walls from the 16 found in the southern prayer hall to 14. These postern gateways (Figs. 3, 9, & Pls. IV, V), are built out of elements of Hindu door frames and, therefore, are unusual features, rarely found in Indian Mosques. It is hard to believe that they were provided for the use of the general worshippers. Probably they were for the use of the attendants, palanquin-bearers and entourage of the King and his ladies, who entered the Mosque through the adjoining Ladies’ vestibule.“…However, there is one exception shown in the northern hall, which differs from the other semi-circular niches. Here the trefoil arch corresponds generally with that of the central mihrabs. The arch itself has a superimposed ribbed roof, recalling Hindu architecture. The face of the trefoil is decorated with a lotus and diamond band, the pilasters on either side having kumbha bases and looped garlands on their shafts. All these details are different from the rest of the decorative motifs in the Adina Masjid. But there are no grounds for the suggestion that the work is Hindu or that it is built up of fragments of a destroyed Hindu temple. The space between the pilasters of this mihrab and the stone-face of the brick wall is filled with fragmentary remains of Hindu sculpture.“…The two postern gateways and the two doors are already mentioned. Beglar pointed out that the door frames of all these four door ways are built up of fragments from some other buildings. He identifies the work as being Hindu but admits that he does not know any local source from their fragments. The work is more or less of the same kind as that to be seen in the postern gate. In all these doorways various Indian motifs attracts undivided attention. These include pot and foliage, pilasters, door guardians and the intertwined nagas on the lintel. The utilization of non-Muslim materials in the Adina Masjid as well as in later Mosques in Gaud and Hazrat Pandua is supported by two fragments in the British Museum. They are cut in basalt and the first shows finely cut Muslim diaper work on one side and the figure of Buddha on the other (Pls. XLII, a-b). Another fragment has the image of probably the goddess Brahmani on the other side (Pls. XLI, a-b). The work indicates that these fragments came from Gaud or Hazrat Pandua.“…The entrance gateway to the Minar at Chhoto Pandua as well as that of the Eklakhi Mausoleum at Hazrat Pandua (Pl. XVI) provide parallels for zenana gatways. The floor of the zenana gallery with its worn basalt paving slabs is supported by the squat pillars of the prayer hall below. These support bays roofed by a corbelled construction of plain slabs placed across the corners of the bays. At earlier mosques, such as the Quwwat al-Islam, internal domes constructed in this way were removed from Hindu temples. Here the old Indian method is still utilized with fresh material…“A curiously interesting feature of the Adina Masjid is the square structure, adjoining the outer wall of the qibla on the northern side of the central mihrab. It communicates with the zenana gallery by lintellect doorways, formed by Hindu door jambs as stated earlier. According to Beglar it measures externally 54 feet by 48 feet, whereas ‘Abid ‘Ali notes that this roofless annexe is 42 feet square. It stands on a very high plinth, raising the floor to the level of the ladies’ gallery. The plinth is built of random rubble work with conventionalised Buddhist railing ornament resembling those in the dadoes of the qibla wall of the mosque.
    • Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Dacca (Bangladesh), 1979.
  • “The real character as well as the distinguishing features of the Adina Masjid have yet to be determined. In the present crumbling state of this one-time ‘wonder of the world’, as Cunningham calls it, it is well nigh impossible to say whether this magnificent mosque occupies the site of any Hindu or Buddhist temple. A group of scholars failed to see in the impressive Adina Masjid anything more than a mere assemblage of Hindu or Buddhist fragments, arranged skilfully to adhere to a mosque plan. Ilahi Bakhsh started the controversy when he wrote, ‘It is worth observing that in front of the chaukath (lintel) of the Adina Masjid, there was a broken and polished idol, and that there were other idols lying about. So it appears that, in fact, this mosque was originally an idol-temple.’ Beglar steps up this controversy by saying, ‘the Adina Masjid occupies the site, of a once famous, or at least a most important, and highly ornamented, pre-Muhammadan shrine’; he depends for his arguments on a Proto-Bengali inscription (Fig. 4b) discovered in the building which bears the name of Brahma. Saraswati seems to have carried the thesis too far when he writes, ‘an examination of the stones used in the construction of the Adina Mosque (one of them bearing a Sanskrit inscription recording merely a name, Indranath, in character of the 9th century) and those lying about in heaps all around, reveals the fact, which no careful observer can deny, that most of them came from temples that once stood in the vicinity.’ Beglar even went so far as to pin-point ‘the sanctum of the temple, judging from the remnants of heavy pedestals of statues, now built into the pulpit, and the superb canopied trefoils, now doing duty as prayer niches, stood where the main prayer niche now stands; nothing would probably so tickle the fancy of a bigot, as the power of placing the sanctum of his orthodox cult (in this case the main prayer niche) on the spot, where hated infidel had his sanctum’. The existence of the foundation of a Hindu Temple in the Adina Masjid is as far-fetched as to consider the circular pedestal to the west of the qibla wall as remains of a Buddhist stupa (Fig. 3). It may be the base of a detached minar, as similar examples are to be seen in the mosques of Egypt, Persia and India…”
    • About the Adina Masjid at Pandua. Syed Mahmudul Hasan, Mosque Architecture of Pre-Mughal Bengal, Dacca (Bangladesh), 1979.

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