NOTES ON THE SITE OF THE OLD CITY OF GAUR: Gaur, the ruined and ancient capital of Bengal, in the district of Maldah, is situated on a deserted channel of the Ganges (Latitude 24 Degree 53’ N., Longitude 88 Degree 14’ E.).
The kingdom of Gaur long continued to be very powerful and prosperous, so that, except for Delhi, it had in India no rival in wealth and affluence. The city was extensive and populous, being inhabited by wealthy people, families of high birth, and persons noted for learning. A large standing army was also maintained there. The site of Gaur lies on a narrow strip of land near the former junction of the old Ganges and the Mahananda rivers, and was probably selected as a capital for the convenience of water communication with all parts of the country after the down fall of the former, and equally large, capital of Pandua.
There are few Hindu remains of any kind to indicate the landmarks of the ancient city; but it is said that the high land at Pichhli near Gangarampur on the south bank of Kalindri river, where a large area is still covered with brick fragments and jungle, was the last residence of Raja Lakhan Sen and his family. Further, the names of Ballalbari, Ramabhita, Chandipur, Patalchandi, Lohagarh, Amrity and Kamalabari may be taken as evidences of Hindu occupation.
A further point to be noticed is that at Kamalabari, which is situated a mile to the north-west of the Sagar Dighi--the great tank which appears to have been the site of one of the earliest Hindu settlements-the patron Goddess of Gaur, Gaureswari Devi, was still worshipped in Cunningham’s time, and a fair held in her honour in the month of June.
All these facts suggest that the Hindu Kings, prior to the invasion of the Musalmans, had seats of government at several places on the south bank of the Ganges which probably then flowed through the Kalindri. When the river Ganges shifted its course, the southern and western banks of old bed were converted into a city by erecting substantial bands all round. There is no doubt that the Hindu Kings made the first attempt at constructing these bands to protect the town, but the Musalman rulers afterwards improved them and made them much stronger. The wall of stone near the Patalchandi gate seems to be the work of the Muhammadan period and to have been constructed for the protection of the town from the action of the river. The remains of a gateway at the northern end of the town at Duarbashini also appear to have been the work of a Muhammadan ruler. The cause way of Ghiyasuddin-the present Rajmahal Road-is another example of protective work, which was necessary owing to the river shifting to the west side of Gaur.
The large tanks Sagar Dighi (large and small), Piyasbari Dighi, etc., were originally deep depressions of the river which, when it dried up, seemed like lakes or large tanks. The Muhammadans who first settled in the country were not very numerous, but their number grew rapidly owing to immigration from other Muslim countries and the conversion of a large number of Hindus to Islam. It may be assumed that a fairly large number of the converts embraced Islam of their own accord, while others were compelled to accept the new faith. The Muhammadans thus established their power over the Hindus. They did not change the Hindu names of the above places but kept them as they were before, and generally showed much favour to their Hindu subjects.
When the river Ganges flowed near Gaur large boats carrying goods from distant places used to come to the city from which there was also an export trade. The high land north of the great Sagar Dighi is supposed to have been the commercial town. It was protected on the east by an embankment connecting the Duarbashini Gate with the Phulwari Gate. The places where cargo used to be landed are still to be seen as oblong-shaped plots of high land with canals cut all round each plot. An old bridge midway to Piran-I-pir (near the north-east corner of the Sagar Dighi) indicates also the passage by which goods were carried to the interior of the old city by small boats along a canal. Embankments, communicating with the new course of the Ganges, run southwards for 20-25 miles from the present site of English Bazar. This shows that carts were employed as an alternative source of transport when the Ganges moved southwards.
The ancient city was at least 12.5 miles in length from north to south, and about two miles in breadth from east to west, giving a total area of 25 square miles; but the entire area was probably not all inhabited at one time.
Dr. Buchanan Hamilton in 1808 described the area of the city as being 20 square miles. The population of the city at the time of its greatest prosperity is said by Faria Y Souza (writing before 1640) to have been twelve lakhs. The site was deserted after the outburst of plague in 1575, and until about 50 years ago was overgrown with dense jungle inhabited by tigers and other wild animals; but cultivation is now rapidly spreading, and clusters of dwelling houses and new villages are springing up here and there amid the ruins of the ancient city.
“The streets are broad and straight and the main streets have trees planted in rows along the walls to give shade to the passengers. The population is so great and the streets so thronged with the concourse and traffic of people, specially of such as come to present themselves at the King’s court, that they cannot force their way past one another. A great part of this city consists of stately and well-wrought buildings.” (De Barros ‘Da Asia’: Lisbon edition of 1778, Vol. VIII, p. 458-translation.)
The city of Gaur was completely surrounded by a high earthen rampart, the top of the wall or embankment being covered with buildings. There were innumerable buildings within the town, which commanded a magnificent view of the Ganges on which it stood. On the eastern side there was a double embankment flanked by a deep moat about 150 feet breadth. The principal street ran from north to south. The western part of the town was open, the Ganges being counted sufficient to prevent any inroad of the enemy from that side. There were openings in the north and south embankments for the egress and ingress of the citizens.
The ruins of Gaur were first explored by Mr. Creighton between 1786 and 1807, and afterwards by Dr. Buchanan Hamilton in 1808, and by Major W. Francklin in 1810-11. Both the latter antiquarians have left elaborate descriptions of the ruins as they then existed. Such a vast city with its numerous buildings and palaces must have had no inconsiderable part of its enormous wealth buried under ground or secreted in cells and subterranean chambers, especially as the modern system of banking was unknown in byegone days.
Manrique, for example, who visited the ruins of Gaur in 1641, tells a story of the recent discovery in a hollow wall of 3 copper vessels, filled with gold coins and precious stones valued at three crores of rupees which had been handed over to Shah Shuja, the then Governor of Bengal.,br> Hindu images in the Small Golden Mosque: Creighton in his “Ruins of Gour” has published sketches of the figures of the Varaha-Avtara, Sivani (or, more probably, Saraswati), Brahmani, and Bhawani (Siva), the Hindu gods and goddesses whose images were found inside the mosque. The stones containing these images were set up in the wall with the figure inside and the freshly ornamented back surface outside.
As Creighton points out, the Muhammadan rulers did not like to keep any Hindu temple in their dominion and so they destroyed the temples and utilized the materials in the construction of the mosques.
It seems to the writer that the builder of the mosque had collected the stones containing the figures of the Hindu gods from the citadel of Gaur where temples must have existed in the time of the earlier Hindu kings.
The builder did not expect that the figures would ever come to light, but the changes of time caused a certain portion of the west wall to fall down and the images were exposed. On the other hand, from Manrique’s statement that, in 1641, he saw figures of idols standing in niches surrounded by carved grotesques and leaves in some stone reservoirs in Gaur, it is quite possible that-except during periods of persecution-the Muhammadan Kings of Gaur allowed idols and Hindu temples to remain unmolested in their capital .-H. E. Stapleton
TANDA CULTURE AND GOAAR PANCHAYAT: Goaars have tremendous faith in a Goaar (Gor) Panchayat system. Even today it is prevalent and practiced in settling the disputes amongst themselves. Goaars (Gors) have typical TANDA culture (caravan camps earlier and now settled camps, known as TANDAS), which is an unique feature of Goaars, with their own administrative, judiciary and executive systems, as well as for community’s social life, gatherings, and festivals etc. They have strong beliefs and meticulously follow their own Goaar Panchayat Systems to settle Civil and matrimonial disputes.
They seldom go to courts of law or to police stations. Divorce system and remarriage of divorcee and widow is liberally accepted and simple. Women are held in high esteem and they play major roles in family matters and decisions. That is why Goaars rarely mix-up or get assimilated with other local/state/regional population. They invariably pitch their Tandas away from non Goaar Revenue/Panchayat Villages and towns to keep their identity and to preserve their Tanda culture intact. This can be seen all over India, that Goaar Tandas areattached or become appendaged to or become hamlet of respective Revenue/Panchayat village of non-Goaars hence Goaar Tanda get the name of that village to which it is attached.For example Pne Tanda, Delhi Tanda, Pohra Devi Tanda and Mandvi Tanda, etc. Mostly Goaar Tandas are not independent revenue village or panchayats. Because of which all the allocated developmental works and benefits goes to the revenue village of non-Goaars to which Tandas are attached. This is one of the biggest drawback, that Goaars have not benefited from the welfare and developmental program of Independent India, through various Panchayati Raj Programmes.
GOAARS SYMBOLISE NATIONAL INTEGRATION AND SOLIDARITY: Goaar is the only ethnic tribal and nomadic group which symbolizes and practices, in a true sense, the National Integration, Solidarity and Unity of the Nation, as they do not have any linguistic, regional, state, religious and caste biases. They love the state and learn its language, wherever they have made their homes, over and above they love their country, India and are patriotic people to the core of their heart. They are law abiding, peace loving and respect the constitution of India.
DIFFERENT NAMES OF GOAAR DYNASTY: Goaars of India known as different names in different states and Union Territories. The following table shows the position of Goaars, along with its synonyms and sub-castes, in the Constitution of India, in those states where their population exists.
ANDHRA PRADESH: Banjara, Sugalis, Lambadis or Lambada.