Pandua

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Pandua a town about 32.18km from gaur and twelve miles from the modern town of Maldah in West Bengal, India, emerged as a mint town and the capital of Bengal during the time of Shamsuddin iliyas shah (1342-1358 AD). Pandua is said to have been derived from Panduya < Panduviya. Cunningham contradicts the Hindu claim that the place derived its name from the Pandus and is inclined to believe that the name rather originated from Pandubis (water fowls) with which the place abounds. Pandua was already a place of note before it acquired the distinction of a capital city in 1342. The presence of numerous remains of Hindu sculpture and architecture in the place points to its antiquity. But it was never as old and great a city as Gaur. It was about four and a half miles long and two miles wide. In 1353 Iliyas Shah renamed it Firuzabad, probably after Shamsuddin firuz shah (1301-1322 AD), an earlier independent sultan of Bengal.

The fifteenth century Chinese accounts record that Pandua had very imposing walls and suburbs. Its bazars were well arranged with series of shops full of every kind of goods. The city remained the seat of government up to mid - fifteenth century. But it continued its status as a mint town till the time of sher shah (1540-1545), whose silver coins minted there are dated in 1540-41 AD. The suburbs of the city attracted saints like jalaluddin tabrizi (13th c) and nur qutb alam (15th c) who founded their khanqah (hospices) there. This is why it also came to be known as Hazrat Pandua.

With the Mahananda changing its course and the transfer of the capital to Gaur in around 1450 Pandua declined. In early nineteenth century (1808) Buchanan Hamilton noticed some remains of bridges, gates, palaces and forts, though these are now non-extant. The extant relics of some monuments and sites, like the tombs of the saints cited above, by the side of Maldah road, the adina mosque and the eklakhi mausoleum on the right side of Maldah-Devkot road, the Danuj Dighi, Satashgarh Dighi etc still bear witness to its historic past. [Md Akhtaruzzaman]

Bibliography Alexander Cunningham, The Archaeological Survey of India Report, XV, Calcutta, 1882; AA Khan & HE Stapleton, Memoirs of Gaur and Pandua, Calcutta, 1931.