Gour-Pandua are twin historical cities in Malda district of West Bengal. Gour is located 14 km south of Malda town while Pandua is 15 km north of Malda town. The ruins of Gour extends in the neighbouring country of Bangladesh and is known as Gaud.
Gour-Pandua is the medieval capital of Bengal. They are twin towns located to the north and south of Malda town, 340 km from Kolkata, in West Bengal. Malda is the base for a visit to Gour-Pandua. The area saw three eras of glory - the Buddhist Palas, the Hindu Senas and the Muslim Sultans. The Senas, the last Hindu kings of Bengal, were displaced by the Muslims in the beginning of the 13th century. They ruled till the Battle of Palashi in 1757. There is no trace of any shrine or structure of the Buddhist or Hindu periods. Even those of the Muslim period are virtually in ruin.
During the 13th-14th century Bengal's rulers maintained a certain independence from the Sultans in Delhi. It was also the period of founding of the Bengali language and the Bengali identity. The Iliyas Shah dynasty ruling from Gour played a big role in that development.
The place has variously been referred to as Lakshanabati, Lakhnauti and Jannatabad.
- 1 Malda Town railway station. It is about 7-8 hours from Kolkata. All trains going to North Bengal stop at Malda Town. Convenient connections from Kolkata – Gour Express from Sealdah, Intercity Express from Howrah.
- 2 Gour Malda. This is the nearest rail head near Gour, but only a handful of trains stop at this station. The station also lacks basic services like hotels and transport connectivity. So it is advisable to get down at Malda Town.
- 3 Adina. This is the nearest railhead near Pandua, but only a handful of trains stop at this station. The station also lacks basic services like hotels and transport connectivity. So it is advisable to get down at Malda Town.
- 4 WBSTC Malda Depot. West Bengal State Transport buses connect Malda with Kolkata. Siliguri and other major towns of West Bengal.
The normal route is to take NH 12, which links Dalkolha with Kolkata, but the longer route via Durgapur Expressway (part of NH 19) from Dankuni, NH 19 from Palsit to Panagarh bypassing Bardhaman city, and then taking the Panagarh-Moregarm Expressway up to Morgram and on to NH 12 is a more comfortable and enjoyable option.
Gour and Pandua are respectively 14 km south and 15 km north of Malda. Since there are no hotels in either Gour or Pandua Malda, is the best option to stay. Hired cars are the best option to explore the ancient towns. The hotels can arrange for cars. A whole day is enough to cover the important spots of both towns. For tourist looking out for more details can stay back a extra day and explore a few places beyond the two citadels. West Bengal Tourism operates a bus from Malda for visiting Gour and Pandua. For details check with Tourist Lodge at Malda.
It is 14 km south of Malda. Covering Gour and Pandua in a single day can be very hectic. People who are on a single day trip to both the places can skip Chamkati Masjid, Tantipara Masjid, Lotan Masjid, Gunamanta Masjid and Kotwali Darwaza. A whole day trip (from 8AM-2PM) is enough to cover all the sites of Gour in detail.
- 1 Two Stone Pillars. If you are approaching Gour from Malda these two pillars will be the first historical site of Gour. The two ornate pillars have similarities to those of the Baro Sona Masjid (Baraduari) and are most likely removed from there.
- 2 Ramkeli. Ramkeli marks the meeting point of the Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the great spritual leader, with Rupa and Sanatana Goswami, high official of the court of Sultan Alauddin Husain Shah. They became devoted followers of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the sultan also paid respect to the spiritual leader. The statue of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stands at the meeting point. Behind it is a small temple containing the footprints of Sri Chaitanya on stone. Further behind stands the Madanmohan Jiu temple along with a nat mandir. The temple houses the statue of Radha Krishna. The radha idol is built of asta dhatu (aloy of 8 metals) and the Krishn idol is made of black stone.
- 3 Baro Sona Masjid ((Baraduari)) (500 m south of Ramkeli). The construction of Baro Duari Masjid (literally meaning the Big Gold Mosque) was started by Allaudin Husain Shah and completed by his son, Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah in 1526. The Indo-Arabic style of architecture and the ornamental stone carvings make Baroduari a special attraction for tourists. The 168 ft x 76 ft structure is said to have 44 gilded domes and hence the name Baro Sona Masjid. Today only 11 of the 44 dome exist, that too without the gold cover. The mosque is popularly known as Baraduari, literally meaning 12 doors, but contrary to the name the mosque has 11 arched entrances. The mosque lies in a enclosed area and has two gateways in east and north. Bara literally means big and chota literally means small, so the Chota Sona Masjid lies in Gaud in Bangladesh.
- 4 Dakhil Darwaza ((Salami Darwaza)) (500 m south of Bara Sona Masjid). Dakhil Darwaza is a grand gateway marking the northern entrance of the citadel of Gour. The gateway is also known as Salami Darwaza as gun salutes were fired to welcome guests into the citadel. The gate was probably built by Barbak Shah in 1425 and measures 102.5 m by 22.5 m along with a 4.5 m passageway through the middle. The gate towers to a height of 15 m, with the entrance arches having a height of 10.35 m. Both sides of the gate are flanked with guard rooms and corner are flanked with octagonal towers. The brick built structure follows the Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The walls are decorated with beautiful floral and geometric motifs.
- 5 Firoz Minar (1 km south of Dakhil Darwaja). Firoz Minar (also called Firuz Minar) is a five-storeyed tower built by Firoj Shah II in 1489 to mark his triumph over Barbak Shah. According to legend threw the chief architect from the topmost storey as the unfortunate man claimed that he could build a higher tower. The 26m high tower has a diameter of 19 m at the base. It resembles the Qutb Minar at Delhi. The lower three stories are 12-sided polygon while the upper two were circular. The top was once crowned with a dome, was subsequently changed into a flat roof, after it was damaged in a earthquake. The minar stands on a 3-m-high mound and the arched entrance is approached by a flight of stairs. A 73-step spiral staircase leads to the top of the minar but visitors are not allowed inside. The minar, at the centre of the Gour citadel, was probably used for azan (call of prayer) and is locally refereed as Pir Asa Mandir and Chiragh Dani.
- 6 Kadam Rasul Masjid (500 m from the Feroze Minar). This mosque was built by Sultan Nasiruddin Nusrat Shah in 1530. It contains the footprints of the Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad on stone. It was brought from Arabia by Pir Shah Jalal Tabriji. The huge dome mosque has a single central dome and the four corners have slender octagonal minarets. Entrance is through a triple arches entrance form the east. Above the arches is a foundation plaque mentioning the year of construction and crediting it to Sultan Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah. Tomb of Fateh Khan is located inside the Kadam Rasul Complex. The 17th-century tomb of a commander of Aurangzeb's army is an interesting structure, built in the Hindu chala style.
- 7 Lukochuri Darwaja ((Sahi Darwaza)). Lukochuri Gate, also known as the Sahi (royal) Gate, is south-east of the Kadam Rasul Mosque, and was probably used for royal private entrance. The word lukcochuri, literally means hid and seek and legends had it that the sultans played hide and seek with the begums. Another opinion is that the word originated from “Lakh Chhippi”, which refers to the lakhs, or hundreds of thousands of tiles which once covered the gate. Probably built in 1665 the gate still houses traces of the intricate stucco work that once covered the entire outer surface of the gate. It is three stories in height and has flanking doorways in the first floor. The roof is flat and once functioned as a naqqar khana (drum house).
- 8 Gumti Darwaza (near Kadam Rasul Masjid). This small decorated structure with a dome, near the Lukochuri Darwaja, probably served as a private entrance from the eastern side. The entire exterior of the Gumti Darwaza was once covered in colourful enamelled tiles, some traces of which still remain.
- 9 Chika Masjid (near Kadam Rasul Masjid). Chika Masjid stands just west of the Gumti Darwaza. It stands on a square base and is crowned with a massive dome. Nothing much is known about the history of the structure. According to some Chika Masjid was built by Nasiruddin Mahmud Shah between 1435 and 1459 CE. The interior reveals that it was probably not a mosque but a tomb. while some historian suggest that it was used as a prison. Some of the stones used for the construction contains images of Hindu gods and goddesses in obliterate condition. Probably material from old Hindu temples were used in the construction. The word chika means bat and bats are still there.
- 10 Baisgazi Wall (22 Yard Wall). Near Chika masjid is a mango orchard and beyond it the Bais Gazi wall, built in 1460 by Barbak Shah to protect his palace. The palace has vanished but small fractions of the wall remain. The wall is 42 feet (22 gaz as per local unit). The thickness at the base is 15 feet while at the top is 9 feet. Near the wall is an archeological site excavated in 2003.
- 11 Ballal Bati ((House of Ballal Sen)). This is part of the archaeological site excavated in 2003. It is called Ballal Bati, literally meaning House of Ballal Sen, of the Sen dynasty of Bengal. There are several other opinion regarding the site some believe it to be the remains of a Buddhist vihar or monastery.
- 12 Jahaj Ghat. A little away from the Ballal Bati is the second excavated site called Jahaj Ghat, literally meaning ship port. The site consists of a arched passageway and strangely the structure stands on dry ground. It is believed that the Ganges once flowed through this area and the structure functioned as a river port.Today the river has long changed is course but the structure remains complete with capstans along with small portions of iron chain.
- 13 Chamkati Masjid (near Kadam Rasul Masjid). Located east of the Lukochuri Darwaja and is approachable through the gateway. It is built by Sultan Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah in 1475. There are several theories regarding the name of the masjid. The first theory suggest it belongs to the Muslim leather workers, the second suggest the Chamkati means skin cutters and according to legend a fakir made such gashes in his own body in presence of Yusuf Shah, the builder of the mosque. The third theory suggest that the word Chamkathi means narrow passage (chaam = narrow, kaathi = path) and as the mosque is approached and hence the name. The mosque has a small verandah on the east with a triple arched entrance.The main structure is square with octagonal turrets at the four corners. The structure is topped with a single dome, with clearly marked receding stages.
- 14 Tantipara Masjid. The word tanti in Bangali means weavers probably the mosque may have some connection with the local weaver community. The Tantipara Masjid has elaborate and intricate terracotta work. The mosque was built by Mirshad Khan in 1480. The mosque once had 10 domes (5 each in two rows) but the domes along with the domes collapsed in the earthquake of 1885. Today the interior of the brick built mosque houses four pillars under the open sky. On the eastern side of the mosque are two graves probably containing the mortal remains of Mirshad Khan and her daughter.
- 15 Lotan Masjid. Lotan Msjid was built for a royal courtesan by Sultan Shamsuddin Yusuf Shah in 1475. It consists of a square structure with sloped roof topped with a gigantic dome. On the eastern side is a verandah topped with two small domes and a sloped roofed structure. Initially the entire mosque was covered with coloured enamel tiles only traces of it could be tracked down to this day. The outer wall sof the mosque are covered with intricate floral and geometric terracotta designs.
- 16 Gunamanta Masjid. Gunamanta Masjid is a massive (157 feet by 59 feet) mosque and one of the least visited sites of Gour. It is constructed in 1484 by Sultan Jallaluddin Fath Shah The mosque consists of a central vaulted and three aisle. The eastern side has eight arched doorways with four each on either side of the nave. The mosque once had a total of 24 small domes.
- 17 Kotwali Darwaza. Located just a few yards on the Indian side of the Indo - Bangladesh border. Kotwali Darwaza once functioned as the southern gateway of the citadel of Gour. The name is probably derived from the Persim word Kotwal, literally meaning police chief. Apart from the rampant walls nothing much remains of the 15th century gateway. Today it serves as a check post for the Border Security Force (BSF) of India. A oral permission is required to access and photograph the gate. The road travels south to the neighboring country of Bangladesh where Gour is referred to as Gaud and has several ancient structures.
Situated 15 km north of Malda town, Pandua is a relatively much smaller site than Gour and can easily be covered in half a day.
- 18 Eklakhi Mausoleum. Eklakhi Tomb or Mausoleum houses constructed by Sultan Jalaluddin Mohammad Shah in around 1425 at a cost of rupees one lakh (hundred thousand) and hence the name. Jalaluddin Mohammad Shah was born as Jadu, son of King Ganesh and later converted to Islam. He ruled Bengal Sultanate for 16 years. The square tomb with sides 75 feet is topped with a dome and houses three graves, including that of Jalaluddin Mohammad Shah. The other two graves are of his wife and son Shamsuddin Ahmed Shah. The corners are provided with minerates, whose cupolas have long collapsed. The walls of the mosque are 13 feet thick and the interior is octagonal and supports the dome of 14 feet diameter. The total height of the structure is 75 meters. The walls have rich terracotta ornamentation of decorative bricks. There are also images of Hindu gods and other human figures suggesting materials from Hindu temples were used in the construction of the tomb.
- 19 Qutb Shahi Masjid (Located behind the Eklakhi Mausoleum). Locally known as Chota Sona Masjid, the Qutb Sahi Mosque is built to honour of Saint Nur Qutb-ul-Alam. The ruins of his shrine are nearby, along with that of Saint Hazrat Shah Jalal Tabrizi, collectively known as the Bari Darga. The mosque is built in 1582. The mosque is approached through a gateway in the east. The eastern wall has five arched entrances providing access to the interiors. The northern and southern walls contain two pierced stone screens. The corners houses four minerates topped with cupolas. The roof once housed ten hemispherical domes, but the domes along with the roof have long collapsed.
- 20 Adina Masjid. The Adina Mosque was built in 1369 by Sultan Sikander Shah and during that time it was the largest mosque in India. The courtyard measures 507 ½ feet by 285 ½ feet. The entrance is through an insignificant door. The roof had 306 domes but sadly none of them survived.The mosque contains an elevated ladies section approached by a flight of wooden stairs. Adjacent to the mosque is a small roofless room housing the remains of Sultan Sikander Shah, the builder of the colossal mosque. The Adina Mosque contains several Hindu motifs in it structure, historians believe that they were brought from demolished Hindu temples.
- 21 Malda District Museum, Subhankar Bandh Road. The Museum dates back to 1937and is under the West Bengal Directorate of Archaeology. The museum was initially started as a place of exhibits of artifacts found in the Malda district. The museum houses beautiful stone and bronze specimens dating back around 750 AD to 1200 AD. Te exhibts include ancient coins, stone inscriptions, copper plate inscriptions, manuscripts, arms and weaponry of the medieval period. There are also ancient statues of Hindu gods and goddesses dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries.
- 22 Nimasarai Minar. Nimasarai Minar is a collapsed tower with projected spikes. Namasarai literally means halfway inn. It lies halfway between Gour and Pandua in the old Malda Town. The probably the place housed an inn in ancient town but no trace of it can be seen today. Only the collapsed portion of the tower stands. Although nothing much is known about the purpose of the tower but historians believe it was constructed as an indication tower for travellers. It was believed that lanterns were put up on top of the tower to guide travellers to the sarai. The projected spikes were probably used for hanging the served heads of executed criminals. The 500-year-old tower is said to be a copy of the Hiran Minar in Fathepur Sikri, Agra. The tower stands on an octagonal base. The upper part of the slightly tapering tower has collapsed long ago. The structure is about 18 feet high and consists of two stories. The stories are marked with projected cornice.
- 23 Nandadirghi Vihar (Jagjivanpur). Nandadirghi Vihar is an archaeological site located in the Jagjivanpur village of Habibpur Block of Malda District. A chance discovery of a copper plate in 1987, with a royal seal on top, contains inscription on both sides in kharosthi script. It was the charter of a hitherto unknown ruler called Mahendrapal Deva, of the Pala dynasty, bequeathed a plot called Nandadirghik-odranga to his army chief Mahasenapati Vajradeva for building a Buddhist monastery to help his parents and the people in general attain religious merit. The discovery lead to an extensive excavation of the Tulabhita mound in Jagjivanpur. The excavation revealed a structure containing a sanctum sanctorum, bastions-cum-cells, balcony, steps, bathroom complex, well, courtyard and entrance. The archaeological findings suggest that the ruins were the remains of Nandadirghi Vihar, one of the leading centres of learning in 9th Century AD. The 30m x 30m structure, maintained by the state archaeological department, is enclosed by barbed wire. The four corners of the square structure had four circular constructions, two of which exist to this day. Beautiful terracotta panels adorned the four walls. The panels have been removed to State Archaeological Museum in Behala, Calcutta. The structure has a courtyard in the middle, surrounded on all sides by two lines of square identical cells, which were probably used as students’ residences or classrooms.
Relax in your place of stay - the visit to the historical sites will be tiring.
Malda is famous for mango, it is called "mango city". Otherwise, there is nothing special about Malda but those who are very keen to buy something can look for Murshidabad silk. Those who are traveling by car can look for fresh vegetables, particularly extra-large aubergines.
There are no eateries in Gour or Pandua.
In Malda, there are some good sweet-meat shops with local varieties.
Some eateries in Malda are: Rajani Ganhdha (Continental Lodge), Purbanchal, Fiza (Kalinga Hotel), Rojgere Ginni (Chanakya Hotel), Payel restaurant.
Normally drinks are available in the hotels but those who are particular about it should preferably carry it.
All hotels and lodges are in Malda. Broadly speaking there are several lodges around Tourist lodge, some around the NBSTC terminus and the private bus stand near it, and some on ABA Gani Khan Choudhury Sarani.
- 1 Malda Tourist Lodge (Government of West Bengal), ☏ , . Rooms ₹150-600, Dormitory ₹80..
- Hotel New Heaven (In front of State Bus Stand (NBSTC)), ☏ . Rooms ₹150-₹650.
- 2 Purbanchal, ☏ . ₹250-₹650.
- 3 Continental Lodge, 22/21 KJ Sanyal Rd, ☏ , , .
- Hotel Landmark, ☏ .
- 4 Hotel Chanakya, ☏ .
- 5 Meghdoot Lodge, ☏ .
- 6 Hotel Kalinga, ☏ .
- 7 Hotel Pratapaditya, Station Rd, ☏ . Check-out: 24 hrs.. up to ₹1,000.
- Zilla Parishad Atithi Niwas, ☏ .
- Youth Hostel (Under West Bengal Youth Service), ☏ .
- New Circuit House, for booking write or fax to: District Magistrate, Malda – 732101, Telephone +91 3512 252 330, Fax +91 3512 253 092, +91 3512 253 049