The district headquarters town is located 365 km north of Kolkata & 260 km south of Siliguri. It was formerly known as English Bazaar as an English factory was established here in 1771. Lying on the confluence of the Mahananda and Kalindi rivers, Malda town rose to prominence as the river port of the Hindu capital of Pandua. Malda is a base for visiting Gaur and Pandua. Gaur, the capital of three dynasties of ancient Bengal - the Buddhist Palas, the Hindu Senas, and the Muslim Nawabs - has seen three distinct eras of glory. Pandua, once the alternate seat of power to Gaur, has the third largest concentration of Muslim monuments in Bengal. Historical monuments include the mosque Jama Masjid (1566) and the landmark Nimasari tower across the river.
During the 18th century, it was the seat of prosperous cotton and silk industries. Constituted a municipality in 1867, it has several colleges affiliated with the University of North Bengal. Rice, jute, legumes, and oilseeds are the chief crops in the surrounding area. Mulberry plantations and mango orchards occupy large areas; mango trade and silk manufacture are the main economic activities.
Places of Interest:
There is a museum at Malda that houses the archaeological finds at Gaur and Pandua.
Gaur: 12 km south of Malda, right on the Indo-Bangladesh border, is one of the most critical Historical places of 14th and 15th century Bengal having immense value from an archaeological point of view. The relics that are particularly worth seeing are the Bara Sona Mosque, Dakhil Darwajah (built in 1425), Qadam Rasul Mosque, Lattan Mosque, and the ruins of the extensive fortification. There are colourful enamelled tiles on the Gomti Gate and Firoz Minar.
Pandua: 18 km north of Malda, another critical site of archaeological importance has some impressive Muslim architecture including the vast Adina Mosque built by Sikander Shah in 1369. It is one of the largest mosques in India, built over a Hindu temple, and has 378 small domes. The Eklakhi mausoleum and several smaller mosques are the other places of attraction in Pandua.
Getting to Malda: Malda may be reached by road. bus service from Calcutta 410 km and Siliguri 260 km, and train services from Calcutta and New Jalpaiguri.
Accommodation: There are some private hotels in Malda apart from a tourist lodge for West Bengal tourism.
Siliguri: 260 km
History of Malda.
Historic monument of MaldaThe glorious past of Malda is associated with the ruined city of Gaur and Pandua. Gaur is historically a very important place because a large portion of Bengal’s ancient history was written here. Malda also houses a great conglomeration of ancient mosques which reminds us of the Mohammedan rulers who reigned here for centuries.
The ancient city of Gaur in Malda has also been mentioned in Hindu Puranic texts and its history is recorded since 500 BC. At that period, Gaur and Pundrabardhana (Pandua) were under the Mauryan Empire. Archaeological findings have also indicated that the whole of North Bengal was part of the Gupta Empire in ancient times. Thereafter, the Guptas were succeeded by the king of Karnasubarna in 700 A.D, who ruled for almost thirty years. From the mid-8th century to the 11th century AD the Pala dynasty ruled Bengal and promoted Buddhism in the region actively. After the rule of the Palas, it was the turn of the Sen Dynasty; Balal Sen was the third ruler of the Sen Dynasty who ruled over Gaur and established sole control over the entire Bengal within 1168 A.D. The Sen Dynasty wielded their rule over Bengal till 1204 AD, after which, the Mughals and Afghans ended their rule by invading Bengal.
One can find the influence of the Afghan and Mughals throughout Malda in the form of beautiful mosques, among which, most of them lay in ruins today. Recent history states that Malda was conquered by the Mughals in 1198 A.D., and was the headquarters of their ruling power over Bengal. After the Afghans came to power, the headquarters were relocated to Pandua and they left a scene of plunder in Gaur. But Pandua was deserted in 1453 and Gaur came to prominence again. In 1539, Gaur was attacked by Sher Shah, and in 1575 it was invaded by the army of Akbar. Curiously, after the occupation of the city by Akbar a severe plague hit and it was completely abandoned and the city lay in a heap of ruins.
The ruins, relics, and monuments of Malda speak a tale of a bygone era when rulers with different origins, religions, and motives ruled the land. It is a feast for the insatiable senses of archaeologists and curious tourists who are interested in the ancient history of Bengal, and of India.