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Mahisantosh an important centre of administration and learning in the medieval period. Present Mahiganj and Santosh under Patnitala in Dinajpur district were known as Mahisantosh. There is a legend that a darvesh (saint) came to the place on the back of a fish and hence the name. There is also a tradition that the place was named after mahipala I (c 995-1043 AD). The general plan of the site and the discovery of some military weapons, particularly a gun and some swords, now on display at the varendra research museum, indicate that it was a fortified military outpost with ditches and ramparts and sprang up long before the coming of the Muslims. The discovery of an inscription in a mihrab with the inscribed images of Visnu and Surya on the reverse testify that Mahisantosh existed as an important centre before it was made the headquarters of a sarkar by the Muslims.

The place emerged, in the mid thirteenth century, as a seat of learning. Shaikh Yahiya Maneri is reported to have received his education there under the guidance of the celebrated Shaikh Taqiuddin. Persian sources tend to suggest that this place became a repository for the saints of the Suhrawardi Order. It became a mint town in 1459 during the reign of ruknuddin barbak shah (1459-1474) and was renamed Barbakabad after the sultan. The construction of a good number of mosques during the Sultanate indicates that the town had been flourishing with a considerable number of Muslim populations. It continued to be a mint town up to 1521. Barbakabad occurs as a sarkar and a city in the ain-i-akbari. As an urban centre it might have lost its importance towards the close of the sixteenth century. From the seventeenth century it ceases to be mentioned as a place of note.

The extensive area, now in ruins, is covered with thick jungle. There are 4 or 5 mosques, a tomb of Muhammad shiran khalji and two tombs of saints, all in ruins. The tomb of Shiran, mentioned in tabaqat-i-nasiri, is now unrecognisable in the scattered ruins of some brick structures, compounds, a tank, and a walled garh. [Md Akhtaruzzaman]

See also mint towns.