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Gaur. Plan of Fort. Enlarged from Creighton's map of 1801 [lithograph].

Gaur. Plan of Fort. Enlarged from Creighton's map of 1801 [lithograph].

Photographer: Ravenshaw, John Henry

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1860

Shelfmark: Photo 978/(8)

Item number: 9788

Genre: Photograph

Photograph taken in the 1860s by John Henry Ravenshaw, one of 45 prints in the album 'Gaur: Its Ruins and Inscriptions'. The ruins of the fortified city of Gaur are located on the India-Bangladesh border in the Malda district of Bengal. Previously known as Lakshmanavati or Lakhnauti, the city was an ancient capital of Bengal, a seat of the Budddhist Pala dynasty from the 8th century and later the Hindu Sena dynasty from the 12th century. The Hindu kings were overcome by the Delhi Sultanate in the early 13th century and Gaur became the capital of the Sultans of Bengal, and together with neighbouring Pandua a centre of provincial Islamic culture until its abandonment in the late 16th century. Gaur's decline began when it was sacked in 1539 by the Afghan ruler of Delhi, Sher Shah Suri, and the Kirrani sultans who were his successors in the region shifted the capital to Tanda. The Ganga and Mahananda rivers between which Gaur was located changed course away from the city and it was finally forsaken. Part of the 15th century citadel of Gaur remains along with its principal entrance on the northern side, called the Dakhil Darwaza. Henry Creighton, an indigo planter living near Gaur in the late 18th century described the city, including a sketch of the place and superb drawings of its monuments. He found the ruins of the city extending up to ten miles in length and one and half mile in breadth, lying between the Ganges and the Mahananda. The city had two big paved roads, parallel to the river, in the north-south direction, crisscrossed by smaller lanes and canals, some of which still exist. Creighton's description was modified by James Rennell, Alexander Cunningham and JH Ravenshaw, who found the ruins extending up to twenty miles in length and four miles in breadth (later confirmed by aerial survey and explorations), thus extending beyond the boundary wall to the south. Ravenshaw described it as shown in Creighton's plan: 'Passing through the corridor of the Golden Mosque, which is sufficiently large to admit mounted elephants, the huge rampart of the fortress, covered with forest trees, faces the view to the south, and a little to the west, perforating the rampart, stands the Dakhil or Salami Gate, the northern entrance to the fort...It is built very substantially of small red bricks, which are generally employed in the Gaur structures, and shows signs of having been highly ornamented with embossed bricks, traces of which can still be seen, even on the dilapidated towers which adorn the four corners. The arch is of great height, and forms a corridor through the gateway of 112 feet in length...'

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