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.
It is about 7-8 hours from Kolkata. All trains going to North Bengal stop at Malda Town. Convenient connections – Gour Express from Sealdah, Intercity Express from Howrah, Kolkata etc.
Rocket service from Esplanade, Kolkata for Siliguri.
The normal route is to take NH 34, which links Dalkolha with Kolkata, but the longer route via Durgapur Expressway (part of NH 2) from Dankuni, NH 2 from Palsit to Panagarh bypassing Bardhaman city, and then taking the Panagarh-Moregarm Expressway up to Morgram and on to NH 34 is a more comfortable and enjoyable option.
Hired cars are available at Malda Town and Sujapur (local town situated on NH_34)
West Bengal Tourism operates a bus from Malda for visiting Gour and Pandua. For details check with Tourist Lodge at Malda.
- 1 Malda Town railway station.
- 2 Mohodipur border crossing (India-Bangladesh border).
- 3 Mahananda Bridge.
- 4 NBSTC Malda Depot.
Situated 14 km south of Malda
- 1 Ramkeli. Contains footprints of Sri Chaitanya on stone.
- 2 Baro Sona Masjid (Half a kilometre from Ramkeli). It is also called Baro Duari Masjid. It was, started by Allaudin 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, of which only 11 exist, that too without the gold cover.
- 3 Dakhil Darwaza. Built in 1425 and also known as Salami Darwaza it was once the main entry for the fort. It is more than 21 metres high and 34.5 metres wide.
- 4 Firoz Minar (A kilometre away from Dakhil Darwaja). It was built by Sultan Saifuddin Feroze Shah during 1485-89 to mark his triumph over Barbak Shah. 26 metres high and 19 metres in circumference. Tourists are not allowed to climb.
- Chika Masjid (near Kadam Rasul Masjid). Sultan Yusuf Shah built the Chika Mosque in 1475. The beautifully ornate carvings on the walls and the images of Hindu idols on the stonework of doors and lintels are still partly visible. 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 some parts of the wall remain. Near the wall are excavations made in 2003.
- 5 Kadam Rasul Masjid (Half a kilometre 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.
- Tomb of Fateh Khan (Opposite the Kadam Rasul Mosque). This 17th century tomb of a commander of Aurangzeb's army is an interesting structure, built in the Hindu chala style.
- 6 Tantipara Masjid. It has intricate terracotta work.
- Lukochuri Darwaja (Located to the south-east of the Kadam Rasul Mosque.). This is a place where the sultans played hide and seek with the begums. There is a difference of opinion as to who built this gate, some say that Shah Shuja built it in 1655, others opine that it was built by Allauddin Hussein Shah in 1522. The innovative architectural style makes it an interesting place to visit.
- Chamkati Masjid (near Kadam Rasul Masjid).
- 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.
- 7 Lotan Masjid.
- There are some monuments on the Bangladesh side of the border and are approachable from Bangladesh: Chhoto Sona Masjid, Khania Dighi Masjid, Balia Dighi, Darasbari Masjid, Dunichak Masjid and Firozpur Masjid. See Gaud for details.
Situated 15 km north of Malda town.
- 8 Adina Masjid. Built in 1369 by Sultan Sikander Shah it was one of the largest mosques in India. Carved basalt masonry from earlier Hindu temples is said to have also been used.
- 9 Qutb Shahi Masjid. Locally known as the Chhoto Sona Masjid, built to honour 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.
- Eklakhi Mausoleum. It is the most elegant monument in Pandua, with a carved Ganesh on the doorway. It is a tomb of the son of a Hindu Raja, who converted to Islam.
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.
- Hotel Green View, Jadupur Gabgachhi, NH 34, Kamalabari, ☎ , , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 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
- Farakka Barrage – about 35 km south of Malda. It is on NH 34 and those travelling by road or rail from Kolkata will cross it.
- Murshidabad – about 140 km from Malda
- Siliguri – about 250 km from Malda
- Kolkata – about 347 km from Malda