Malda district, also spelt Maldah or Maldaha (Bengali: [mald̪a], [mald̪ɔɦ], often [mald̪ɔɦo]; মালদা, মালদহ) is a district in West Bengal, India. It lies 347 km (215 miles) north of Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal. Mango, jute and silk are the most notable products of this district. The special variety of mango, Fazli (Bengali: ফজলি) produced in this region, popularly known by the name of the district, is exported across the world and is acclaimed internationally. The folk culture of gombhira is a feature of the district, being a unique way of representation of joy and sorrow of daily life of the common people, as well as the unique medium of presentation on national and international matters. According to the National Investigation Agency Malda is believed to be a hub of a fake currency racket. It is reported that 90 per cent of the fake currency that enters India originates in Malda.
District headquarters is English Bazar, also known as Malda, which was once the capital of Bengal. The district maintains the traditions of the past in culture and education. Old Malda, the town which lies just east of the confluence of the Mahananda and Kalindi rivers, is part of the English Bazar metropolitan city. The town rose to prominence as the river port of the old capital of Pandua. During the 18th century it was the seat of prosperous cotton and silk industries. It remains an important distributing centre for rice, jute, and wheat. The area between the historical monument of Jame Masjid (1566) and the landmark of Nimasarai tower across the river Mahananda, constituted a municipality in 1867. Rice, jute, legumes, and oilseed are the chief crops in the surrounding area. Malda is the largest producer of excellent quality of jute in India. Mulberry plantations and mango orchards occupy large areas; mango trade and silk manufacture are the main economic activities. The Independence Day of Malda is 17 August 1947.
Pāṇini mentioned a city named Gourpura, which by strong reason may be identified as the city of Gouda, ruins of which are situated in this district. Examples are legion of the relics of a predecessor kingdom being used in the monuments of the successor kingdoms.
It had been within the limits of ancient Gour and Pandua (Pundrabardhana). These two cities had been the capital of Bengal in ancient and medieval ages and are equidistant, north and south, from English Bazar town (once known as Engelzavad established by the British rulers).
The boundary of Gour was changed in different ages since the 5th century BC, and its name can be found in Puranic texts. Pundranagara was the provincial capital of the Maurya Empire. Gour and Pundravardhana formed parts of the Mourya empire as is evinced from the inscriptions, Brahmi script on a seal discovered from the ruins of Mahasthangarh in the Bogra District of Bangladesh. Xuanzang saw many Ashokan stupas at Pundravardhana.
The inscriptions discovered in the district of undivided Dinajpur and other parts of North Bengal, along with the Allahabad pillar inscriptions of Samudragupta, clearly indicate that the whole of North Bengal as far east as Kamrup formed a part of the Gupta Empire.
After the Guptas in the beginning of 7th century AD Sasanka, the king of Karnasubarna as well as the king of Gauda ruled independently for more than three decades. From the middle of the 8th century to the end of the 11th century the Pala dynasty ruled Bengal, the kings were devoted to Buddhism. It was during their reign that the Jagadalla Vihara (monastery) in Barindri flourished paralleling with Nalanda, Vikramshila and Devikot.
The Pala empire yielded to the emergence of Sen Dynasty, the Sen rulers were orthodox Hindus, and in the habit of moving from place to place within their kingdom. During this time, Buddhism went on the defensive. It eventually disappeared from the demographic map of Bengal. At the time of Lakshman Sen Goud was known as Lakshmanabati. The Sen kings ruled Bengal till Bakhtiyar Khalji conquered Bengal in 1204 AD.
Thereafter the Muslim rule started. The name Mal Daha was coined (Mal= riches, Daha= lake). Sultan Ilyas Shah, Firuz Shah, Sikandar Shah, Raja Ganesha, Alauddin Hussain Shah and Nasiruddin Nasrat Shah are the notable rulers of medieval age. Afghan warrior Sher Shah Suri invaded Gour and was repelled by Mughal emperor Humayun. Humayun, loving the mango of Gour, named the place as Jannatabad (garden of heaven). Firuz Shah Tughlaq, Ghiyasuddin and Mughal army invaded Gour to suppress rebellion several time. Relics of Muslim structures are present as Firuz minar, Adina Mosque (the largest mosque of South Asia then), Qutwali gate etc. During the Mughal rule, the capital was removed to Dhaka due to a course change of the river Ganges. Muslim rule ended in 1757. Koch army invasion increased during the downfall of Gour.
After the war of Palassy, the British rule started in 1757. The English traders settled in the southern bank of the river Mahananda. Some indigo plant chambers, trade centre and offices were established. William Careyworked here. But the glorious days were gone.
This district was formed out of some portions of outlying areas of Purnia, Dinajpur and Rajshahi districts in 1813. At the time of Dr. B. Hamilton (1808–09), the present thanas of Gazole, Malda, Bamongola, and part of Habibpur were included in the district of Dinajpur and the thanas of Harischandrapur, Kharba, Ratua, Manikchak, and Kaliachak were included in the district of Purnia. In 1813, in consequence of the prevalence of serious crimes in the Kaliachak and Sahebganj thanas and also on the rivers, a Joint Magistrate and Deputy Collector was appointed at English Bazar, with jurisdiction over a number of police stations centring that place and taken from the two districts. Thus the district of Malda was born. The year 1832 saw the establishment of separate treasury and the year 1859 the posting of a full-fledged magistrate and collector.
Up to 1876, this district formed part of Rajshahi Division and between 1876 and 1905, it formed part of Bhagalpur Division. In 1905, it was again transferred to Rajshahi Division and until 1947, Malda remained in this division. During the first Partition of Bengal of 1905, this district was attached with the newly created province of Eastern Bengal and Assam. Malda has a history of Indigo movement led by Rafique Mondal. The santhals got insurgent and captured historic Adina Mosque in support of Jeetu. Again in August 1947 this district was affected by partition. Between 12–15 August 1947, the fate of the district as to which side it should go, to Pakistan or to India, was undecided because the announcement of the partition award of Sir Radcliffe did not make this point clear. During these few days the district was under a Magistrate of East Pakistan. When the details of the Radcliffe Award were published, the district came over to West Bengal on 17 August 1947. However, the sub-division of Nawabganj was severed from Malda and was given to East Pakistanas a sub-division of the Rajshahi district
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