Gaur, The Largest Medieval City In The Indian Subcontinent

Gaur, The Largest Medieval City In The Indian Subcontinent


On city three names, the ruined city Gauda, Gaur or Gour is located on the Bangladesh- India Border. The total area of the city is split between the two countries. Gaur has the largest number of historical mosques than any other place in Bangladesh. First, it was the capital of the Buddhist Pala Dynasty from the 7th to 12th century after which the Hindu Sena Dynasty rules from the 12th to 15th century that was later conquered by the Khiljis from Turkistan and later by the Afghans and last the Mughals. 


The golden age of gauda

The city came from a downfall due to a deadly plague and the change of course of the Ganges. This eventually led to this old city with nothing more than heaps of ruin. Gaur became a prosperous city under the rule of the Afghans. With fortified ramparts and moat, the city spread over 32 sq km. Filled with temples, mosques and palaces the city became a center for the traders and merchants from all over central Asia, Arabia, Persia, and China.

Some Mosque is still standing today and some are restored beautifully but no building from the Hindu period remains. Bangladesh has a number of sights in Gaur on its side of the border that can be visited.


Chhoto Shona Mosque

Although smaller in size the Chhoto Shona Mosque or Small Golden Mosque is the better-preserved one than the other Large Golden Mosque across the border in West Bengal. Build by Mali Muhammad during the reign of Sultan Hossain Shah (1494-1519), Chhoto Shoma Mosque is one of the finest architectural pieces form the time. With over fifteen gilded domes and three Chou-Chala domes in the middle, the name is originated from the fact that the domes were originally gilded.

The Mosque is one of the two mosques in Bangladesh which is wrapped completely with stones that were brought here through the waterways of Rajmahal. An ornate ‘ladies gallery’ or ‘badshah-ka-takht’ in the northwest corner of the mosque is finely carved on slender stone columns.

The monument its beautifully decorated with shallow reliefs on both the inner and outer surface of the walls. The beautiful stone works feel like the highly developed terracotta art of Bangladesh with quality wood curving or filigree work. Glazed tiles with a floral pattern originally covered the floor of the sanctuary. The western side has a stone gateway with pointed arches.


The Darasbari Mosque

Build around 1470 by Sultan Yusuf Shah, the Darasbari Mosque is an excellent example of the architecture of the Ilyas Shahi period. Due to its name, Darasbari is considered to be attached to a madrasah or other religious institute.

The mosque has two sections with an oblong prayer hall with verandas on the easy and covered with walls 6 inches thick. The prayer hall was probably roofed with a series of domes and a set of Chau-Chala or Bengali domes in the center but the whole thing is not collapsed. The northwest corner probably had a ‘Ladies Gallery’ on an upper story that was accessible with stairs from outside. The interior is covered with nine mihrabs that demonstrate gorgeous terracotta ornamentation with various flora and geometric patterns.


Khania Dighi or Rajbibi Mosque

Khania Dighi or Rajbibi Mosque, Gauda, Chapainababganj
Khania Dighi or Rajbibi Mosque, Gauda, Chapainababganj - Photo Credit:

With rich terracotta art and floral design, this single domes mosque has an attaches verandah, roofed with three smaller squat domes.  The domes are attached to black basalt pillars. The western wall of the prayer chamber has three highly ornate black stones mihrabs.

The name Rajbibi is not clear to archeologists and is thought to be an influential figure in the harem of the royal family. Dater to be in the 15th century and Arabic inscription with Quranic verse is on site.


Dhunichak Mosque

Stylistically dated to be later Ilyas Shahi’s period the mosque had a rectangular sanctuary with 5’ 6” walls. The western wall is covered with three richly ornamented mihrabs with the largest in the center. The roof of the mosque was fallen and later restored beautifully by the archeological department of Bangladesh.


Tahkhana Complex

Tahkhana or underground chamber is an interesting two stories brick building of the saint Shah Niamatullah Wali of karnaul near Delhi. The building has been repaired recently and is especially interesting as it is the only monument of the Mughal Period in Gaur. It was originally built by Shah Shuja as his temporary residence when he came to Gaur to visit his Pir, Shah Niamatullah.

The Tahkhana is an Oblong building now choked with weed. The number of cells is unspecified and was built into a part of the level embankment of the tank at water level while the upper floor is level with the surrounding ground of the tomb and mosque.

Seventeen apartments with two octagonal chambers are present on the upper floor. A staircase at the southeast corner leads down to the domed hammam complex.

Partly overlaying the ground floor the eastern side has a dilapidated open terrace and the main central block leads to another verandah with five arched openings in the west.


Check out our Archeological Package Tour to visit the beautiful mosques in Gaur. 


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