The ancient city of Gaur, also known as Gauda, Lakshmanavati, Lakhnauti and Jannatabad, served as the seat of many powerful dynasties over time – the Buddhist Pala kings from the 8th century onwards, the Hindu Sena kings from the 12th century on, eventually falling into the hands of the Delhi Sultanate in 1204. It thrived during the Bengal Sultanate, passing between prominent dynasties including the Ilyas Shahi, Habshi and Hussain Shahi kings.
Now a checkpoint at India’s border with Bangladesh, the Kotwali Darwazah was once the central gate in the south wall of the city of Gaur. As its name suggests, it was where the Chief of Police (kotwal) was stationed. Battlements stood on either side of the gateway for military guards to fire from; the remnants of these are still visible. The arch of the gate, already in a state of decay when photographed by Ravenshaw in the 1860s, no longer exists. Despite its state at the time, Ravenshaw wrote of the gate as being one of the most imposing structures in the ruins of Gaur.
This photograph was published in Gaur: Its Ruins And Inscriptions by John Henry Ravenshaw in 1878. Ravenshaw was a Bengal Civil Service worker who was stationed as Magistrate and Collector at nearby Maldah. He had the opportunity to explore and photograph Gaur between 1865 and 1867. While Ravenshaw died in 1874, this volume of photographs and notes were arranged to be published thereafter by his widow, Caroline.
To read more about Gaur, as well as view more of Ravenshaw’s photographs from the region, click here.
TitleKotwali Gate, Gaur
Album TitleGaur: Its Ruins And Inscriptions, 1878
PhotographerJohn Henry Ravenshaw
DimensionsH: 18.9 cm x W: 23.6 cm
Accession No.2016.26.1 (21)