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Nimsarai Minar


Nimsarai Minar a peculiar minar at Old Maldah, quite similar to the one at Fathpur-Sikri (1568-85 AD). It stands on the west bank of the Mahananda river, and is located immediately below the junction of the Kalindi. The minar is called Nimsarai, because it is situated exactly half way (nim) between Gaur-Lakhnauti and Pandua-Firuzabad, and because there was a sarai (resting-place) there.

Nimsarai Minar, Maldah

Its purpose is clear. It was an indication tower for travellers coming from far away, and it is likely that at night a chirag (lanthern) was placed on its top for guidance. About the imitation elephant’s tusks on its body, much has been speculated, but it can be said with certainty that these were copied from the Hiran Minar at Fathpur Sikri. Both were built during the time of the great Mughal emperor Akbar. The elephant tusks could be a decorative motif, but at the same time a device for hanging human heads as a warning for pirates roaming in the rivers on the look out for boats loaded with merchandise.  

Built in brick, the minar stands on an octagonal platform, each side of which measures 5.50m, and has a circumference of 17.50m. The upper part of the minar fell down long ago, but the two lower storeys, still standing, are slightly tapering, and about 18m in height. The storeys are marked by a projecting cornice round the shaft at about the middle of the height over which is a window to let air and light inside. A spiral staircase inside the minar leads up to the top.

Situated on a river junction, the minar was not only functional in character, but also must have been one of the decorative elements of the town when viewed from different directions. [ABM Husain]