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Lakhnauti


Lakhnauti a ruined city in the Maldah district of west Bengal, India on the west bank of Ganges River, about 8 miters to the south of English Bazar and on the eastern bank of the Bhagirathi. It is also capital city of ancient and medieval Bengal. Laksmanavati came to be known as Lakhnauti under the Muslim rulers. It was named after laksmanasena most probably in imitation of Ramavati (Ramuti of the Ain) founded by Rampala in the region of gaur. Lakhnauti stood on the west bank of the Ganges close to its junction with the Mahananda, about twenty-five miles below rajmahal. bakhtiyar khalji, immediately after the conquest of Nadia in 1205 AD, hurried to Lakhnauti, made it his capital and established mosques, madrasas, Khanqahs etc there. iwaz khalji constructed an embankment to safeguard the city from inundation of the Ganges and connected the capital with devkot in Dinajpur and Lakhnor in Birbhum by constructing a road. All these have been reported to noticed by Minhajuddin Siraj, the author of tabaqat-i-nasiri.

The city continued to be the capital of the Muslim rulers (with a break of six years from 1206-1211 AD) up to 1342 AD. iliyas shah shifted the capital to pandua in 1342 AD. Lakhnauti provides us with the earliest specimen of mintage in Bengal. The importance of this city lies in the fact that it was the centre from where the Muslims established their rule in Bengal.

From the 15th century AD the name of Lakhnauti does not appear in the sources. It then became identical with the ancient city of Gaur, remains of which are now spread over in the Maldah district of West Bengal and the Nawabganj district of Bangladesh. During the rule of the sultans, Gaur sprawled over an area of about 40 square kilometers. In Abul Fazl's time (late 16th century) Lakhnauti is reported to have existed as a pargana in Maldah district. The changes in the courses of the Ganges might have caused this transition of the city.

Barani's (14th century) reference to the city of Lakhnauti indicates that it had a three km long big bazar. Its main street, running from south to north, was broad and straight. Shops in the market places were well arranged in rows. It appears that besides the old palaces of Ballalbari in the northern suburb of Phulwari, there was a new palace in Patalchandi, the southern suburb of the city. cunningham, surveying the adjoining regions, came to the conclusion that the medieval city of Lakhnauti was situated on the northern part of the present site of Gaur and was six km long and three km broad. The city then included the famous sites of Phulwari, Kamalabari, Patalchandi, Ballalbari, Sagar Dighi, Ramkeli etc. At present, the whole area looks like a far-flung village with some remains of forts, gates, tanks and streets. [Md Akhtaruzzaman]

Bibliography JH Ravenshaw, Gaur: Its Ruins and Inscriptions, London, 1878; A Cunningham, The Archaeological Survey of India Report, XV, Calcutta, 1882; Abid Ali Khan and HE Stapteton, Memories of Gaur and Pandua, Calcutta, 1931; ABM Husain et al (ed), Gawr - Lakhnawti, Dhaka, 1997.