Gaur. Small Golden Mosque
Photographer: Ravenshaw, John Henry
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph taken in the 1860s by John Henry Ravenshaw, one of 45 prints in the album 'Gaur: Its Ruins and Inscriptions'. The ruined city of Gaur is 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. Ravenshaw wrote of the Chota Sona Mosque (Small Golden Mosque): 'South-east of the endowment, and about half a mile distant, stands the Small Golden Mosque, which is in better preservation than most of the Gaur ruins. It might be termed the gem of Gaur. The courtyard, however, is entirely demolished, a road now passing through it. The mosque is oblong in form and covered with fifteen domes, supported on massive hornblende pillars, of which substance the entire mosque is constructed. The exterior facings are chased with the most elegant and elaborate designs, while the interior is beautifully chiselled on all sides...' The name of the mosque derives from the now-lost gilded decoration of its domes. It was built by a noble at the court of Sultan Husain Shah (ruled 1494-1518). It displays typical regional features in the Bengal style, multi-domed with curved cornices and corner towers.