MAHMUD GAWAN MADRASA
The existing madrasa has a courtyard not unlike others throughout the Middle East. Currently, its southeast part has collapsed. Originally it had minars in either side of the east facade, of which only the northern one exists today. On the axis of a large courtyard, four iwans were constructed, each of which has a large arch-shaped opening. Rooms in either side of the iwan are not two-tiered as in many madrasas in the Middle East, but three-tiered, which is a special feature of this building. These rooms seem to have been used for the education of students by priests and teachers. The upper part of these rooms are beautifully decorated by lines of tile work of Arabic quotations from the Koran. On the surface of the cornice and minar, tiles are used abundantly, creating the atmosphere of Iranian architecture. Joints of Tiles observed in the base of the minar are precious relics. Also the iwans, openwork windows in the large room and squinches shaping fivefold arches are unique features that cannot be observed in other buildings.
After examination of the content of the Chronogram in the Abjat style, the founding date of this madrasa was found to be 877 AH or 1472-73. According to Ferishta, Mahmad Gawan was a great scholar, attaining great skill in mathematics. It should be noted that the form and structure of this precious madrasa in South Asia show similarities to buildings of the same kind existing in other area including Khorasan, due to the environment Mahmad Gawan existed in.
In 1107 AH (1695-96), this madrasa was greatly damaged by lightning, and losing its front and the south wing part. The building remaining today is maintained by efforts by the archeology department. The minar and the south part connected to the minar have been meticulously reconstructed. The existing minar is a three-tiered tower with an octagonal base. On the first and second tier, there are simple balconies projecting out. The surrounding walls have arch-shaped entrances and windows of different sizes and rectangular spaces. The top part of the east facade is decorated by a unique hemming of white, blue and yellow tiles. The inside of the lowest arch is decorated by openwork lattice. J. Marshall and P. Brown viewed this critically. However, I admire this decoration which plays a role in the splendid minar.
The aforementioned lines of
quotation from Koran in Thulth style in the upper part were
introduced by Dr. Yazdani with praise. At the last part of the
lines, there is the name of "Ali al-Sufi". He is
regarded as a person who directed the decoration of the walls,
including this quotation. The further details of this madrasa are
well explained in a book written by Dr. Yazdani.