Sonargaon- the oldest capital of Bengal


Sonargaon's importance in the pre-Muslim period is borne out by its ancient name of Suvarnagrama (the golden village), from which it is obvious how the Muslim version of the name is derived, as well as by the existence of Langalbandh and Panchamighat, the two traditional holy bathing places of the Hindus, in this tract of land on the west bank of the old Brahmaputra. Sonargaon rose to be the seat of an independent ruler under Ghiyasuddin Bahadur Shah, and after his fall it was the headquarters of the eastern province of Bengal under the Tughlaqs till 1338. Sonargaon emerged as the capital of an independent Sultanate under Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah (1338-1349). In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Panam Nagar was developed in a part of medieval Sonargaon.

By the second Quarter of the fourteenth century AD Sonargaon had developed into a commercial metropolis; seafaring boats could easily reach Sonargaon from west Asian and southeast Asian countries. Ibn Batuta describes Sonargaon as an important port city, which had direct commercial relations with countries like China, Indonesia (Java) and the Maldives. Muslin produced in Sonargaon, especially its finest variety called khasa, had a worldwide reputation. With the loss of political status in the second decade of the seventeenth century AD Sonargaon gradually lost its commercial importance as well. It again rose to some eminence in the nineteenth century AD when Panam Nagar was established as a trading centre in cotton fabrics, chiefly English piece goods. Sonargaon developed into a seat of Islamic learning under the versatile scholar Maulana Sharfuddin Abu Tawwamah of Bokhara who came to Sonargaon sometime between 1282 and 1287 and established a Khanqah and madrasa wherein all branches of Islamic learning as well as secular sciences were taught and studied.
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