Maldah. Gate of Fort.
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'. Malda town, in Malda district in Bengal, is today well-known for its mango harvest, and is the nearest point providing access to the historic ruins of Gaur and Pandua. Through the centuries, the region has been the stage for the various rulers who had their impact on Bengal: Buddhist, Hindu, Afghan, Mughal, British. Sited at the confluence of two rivers (the Mahananda and Kalindi) a little away from the modern town, the natural port of Old Malda was once a flourishing centre for trade, particularly cotton and silk, and the Dutch, French and English had trading posts here in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the late 17th century the English set up a market town here and by 1771 English Bazar (now a suburb of Malda and the district headquarters) was well-established and fortified. The Islamic-period late 16th century fort located within the town was originally a warehouse and then a fortified sarai or travellers' resthouse. Ravenshaw wrote of its remains, 'The Katrah or Fort Gate stands near the river, and leads to a strong enclosure, which appears, of late years, to have been use as a Sarai or resting place for travellers. It is said to have answered formerly as a place of safety for valuable merchandise landed at Old Maldah, and intended for transmission to the Court at Panduah. Towards the south end of the city there are the ruins of a second gateway, which appears of much more modern construction than the Fort Gate.'