Historical Capital of Gaud
The historical site of Gaud (also Gaur), some 100km from Rajshahi, is renowned for its many ancient mosques. These Islamic architectural wonders were constructed largely during the Muslim Sultanate and Mughal period when Gaud served as the capital of Bengal. Located along the Indian border with Bangladesh, the site of Gaud extends into both countries, and includes such noteworthy mosques as Chhota Sona Masjid, Darasbari Mosque, Khania Dighi Mosque, Madrassa and Tahkhana.
The site of Gaud became an important center during the rule of the Sena Empire. It was chiefly during Muslim rule that a large number of new structures were built, including palaces, mosques, forts, mausoleums, bridges and so forth. Gaud truly prospered under the rule of the Afghans, extending to over 32km squared. It also became an important hub for traders from all over Asia.
Muslim architecture was distinguished by features such as the mihrab, the dome and the minaret. Due to differences in building materials, climate and craftsmen, Muslim architecture in Bengal was adapted, with new techniques being used. The Pre-Mughal architectural style started in 1204, extending to 1575. Thereafter cultural influences from the West resulted in the imperial Mughal architectural style, which only ended in 1757 with the end of Muslim rule. Structures built during that first period in Gaud can no longer be seen.
From 1450 BCE to 1565 BCE Gaud was one of the region’s largest cities. Today the ruins of Gaud and Pandua are concealed by verdant vegetation. Three cities have been identified at the site. Lakhnawti is the earliest, from the Pala and Sena dynasties. Next is Gaud and Pandua, of the pre-Mughal rulers. The streets of Gaud are quiet, in stark contrast to the bustling cities of Bangladesh.
One of the best known structures in Gaud is the Chhota Sona Masjid (Small Golden Mosque). The mosque boasts fifteen domes that were once overlaid in gold. This remarkable religious site was built by Wali Muhammad, with the exceptional stone carving on the walls being a highlight of the design.
Khania Dighi Mosque is also worth a visit. It has undergone a number of repairs. Situated a short way from the mud wall of Gaud, the brick mosque consists of a large single-dome prayer hall, with a three-domed verandah, demonstrating the changes in architecture from what used to be just a square single domed structure.
Bangladesh’s historical site of Gaud is well worth a visit, and is second only to Bagerhat in the number of mosques that can be viewed.