To get a peek into history, walk around this splendid site that is a well-preserved Islamic pre-Mughal city. With a large number of Hindu and Jain temples as well as mosques, most of which were constructed during the time of the Gujarat Sultanate, the city has a lot to boast. From step wells, cemeteries, granaries and fortification walls, it is clearly evident that a well-planned town once existed here. At the base of the hill was located the principal township, which included the royal palace Hissar-i-Khas and the Jama Masjid that was strategically planned in the centre with arterial roads reaching the nine gates of the city. Mosques were constructed near most of these gates at an elevation so that they were easily visible from a distance. Located around km from the city of Vadodara, the Kadia Dungar
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I was lounging around in the lush green lawn in front of Laxmi Vilas Palace, feeling a bit down since DSLR photography of the exteriors was not allowed. I had an instant thought of going Live on both Facebook and Instagram. By a stroke of luck my friend Jinit also happened to tune in to the live video. He lives in Baroda and we had met in Pushkar , back in The Punjabi family that I was staying with in Vadodara insisted that I have breakfast and only then leave from home.
Many thanks for the same, it was super tasty! The weather was impeccable and a cool breeze blew on the highway as we were on a two-wheeler. In hindsight, I can say that the biggest reason for me exploring Champaner Pavagadh Archeological Park in a detailed manner was the cool weather.
We crossed Halol bypass and the highway immediately gave way to small country roads surrounded by gently curving green hills. I could barely believe my eyes when Jinit pointed toward a high mountain and remarked Pavagadh is on top of that mountain! When we were about to enter Champaner, we spotted an old looking monument to our right. Since I had not done any research before coming, it was to unknowingly become the start of our exploration of Champaner — Pavagadh Archaeological Park.
It is widely believed that the th Century fortress town of Pavagadh was first ruled by Solanki Kings and then by Khichi Rajputs. The founder of Ahmedabad, Ahmed Shah laid siege to Champaner-Pavagadh in but was unable to capture it. Sultan Mahmud Begda captured it from the Rajput Kings in after a month siege. It was thereafter renamed as Muhammadabad, and was made the capital of the Gujarat Sultanate in Less than fifty years later in , Muhammadabad fell to Mughal Emperor Humayun who wanted to lay his hands on the treasures of the Gujarat Sultanate.
After this battle was won by the Mughals, the gradual decline of Champaner began and it fell from being the capital of the Sultanate to an obscure and deserted town. Champaner was later ruled by the Marathas and also by the Britishers for a short period; but it was never able to regain its lost glory.
Tools recovered from the region indicate that the Champaner Pavagadh region was inhabited since as early as the Stone Age. The oldest historical monument of Champaner Pavagadh is the 10thth Century Lakulisha Temple; adorned with stunning images of deities including Brahma, Vishnu, Gajendramoksha, Dakshinamurti, Indra and Ambika. Throughout the day, we did not spot any other tourists outsiders visiting the mosques of Champaner. Instead, it is Pavagadh hill that draws visitors in huge numbers.
Kalika Mata on Pavagadh Hill is a popular pilgrimage site and religious tourism scores big in India. Jinit informed me that the temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is counted among the Shakti Peeths; legend says that the toe of Goddess Sati fell on Pavagadh Hill. Champaner was originally ruled by a Rajput Chauhan Dynasty, and was captured by Mahmud Begda in Mahmud Begda is said to have spent more than 20 years in rebuilding Champaner; and added mosques, palaces and tombs within the massive walls of Champaner.
Champaner remained the capital of Gujarat till , when it was conquered by the Mughal Emperor Humayun. After that it fell into a gradual decline and in the present day most of Champaner lies in ruins. The most prominent among the mosques is the Jami Masjid. Its rich exterior with pillars and feet high minarets makes it one of the finest Islamic monuments in India. In fact, the architecture of Champaner is believed to have been an inspiration for subsequent Islamic architecture for the Mughals in India.
The Portuguese traveller — Duarte Barbosa who visited Gujarat between and is known to have written that Champaner was a great city full of life. He found it very fertile with abundant provisions and cows, sheep, goats and lots of fruits. Timeless massive city walls with inscribed gateways stand proudly; and there are dwellings of locals amidst the ruins. The surroundings are ringed by exquisite mosques, cenotaphs and a few stepwells to complete the fairytale.
Since the city was abandoned suddenly years ago; a popular legend among the locals is that Champaner was deserted because it was a cursed city.
Historical accounts indicate that Mahmud Begda had invited a Persion landscape architect from Khorasan in Iran to design the layout of the garden within the Royal Enclosure Hisar-i-Khas. In the present day, it appears that only ruins of the same are left and I could not conclusively spot the Royal Palace of Mahmud Begda. As soon as we entered Champaner; we noticed a series of fortifications that looked very old and possibly dated to the origins of the ancient city.
The fortifications continue for a considerable distance and consist of massive sandstones with intermediate bastions; some of which appeared in an urgent need of repair. Champaner is a classic example of a pre-Mughal Islamic township.
The architecture and designs of the monuments are a blend of local Gujarati traditions and Islamic designs.
The deserted looking ruins have a dazzling array of architectural delights; and numerous mosques from the 15th Century dot the landscape in and around Champaner. The mosques of Champaner are all built on high plinths and are ornamented with fine geometrical and Islamic designs.
Mosques of Champaner are mostly in the column and beam style of architecture while only Bawaman Mosque and Iteri Masjid were built in the column and arch style. Before the journey, I was aware that Champaner and Pavagadh were separate areas and was under the impression that all the monuments in Champaner would be clustered together.
But it was not so. If truth be told, Champaner would have been very difficult to explore on foot. Since we were on a two wheeler, it was easy to just stop on the side and decide that the huge tomb be visited. It also states that the structure is datable to 15th Century AD. There was a guard outside the structure but he had no idea about the history of who Sakar Khan may have been.
The lattice work inside the tomb was stunning for a monument that was years old. Views on the other side of the tomb were spectacular; especially because of the green cover with a misty backdrop.
Jinit also showed me the outline of the gorgeous looking trek from the lake that lies just a little ahead of the tomb. We entered the huge doorway that signalled the start of the old city of Champaner and came upon a market. A left turn from there meant we were in front of the fortifications and entered another huge gate to arrive at the ticket window in Champaner. The entrance to Shahar-ki-Masjid was elaborate and I instantly thought that this is the all-enclosing complex in Champaner where all the worthwhile sights are located!
And the presence of a ticket window only seemed to confirm that fact until we entered inside. The monuments in Champaner were not at one place but were rather quite far away from each other. The central one is flanked by two high minarets splendidly enriched with geometric and floral patterns. Historians believe that the Shahar-ki-Masjid was the private mosque of the royal family of the Gujarat sultans when Champaner Muhammadabad was the capital of the Sultanate.
It stands on a raised platform and comprises of a walled structure. The eastern entrance is the main gateway into the building and projects outward in the form of a wonderful doorway embellished with dazzling decoration in stone.
There are amazingly intricate carvings and stone screen work inside the Jami Masjid. Jami Masjid is well known as a perfect amalgamation of Indo-Islamic architecture and its intricate carving and perforated stone screen work. The Jami Masjid has a courtyard surrounded by pillared corridors, with the main shrine at the far end within which are seven mihrabs.
Like the Shahar-ki-Masjid, Jami Masjid also has five arched entrances, with the central one flanked by 30m high minarets. Nearby is a stepwell with water that may have been used for pre-prayer ablutions. It was being restored when we were there. Jami Masjid in Champaner is also known as The Great Mosque and it is believed to be the architectural example for later mosques in India.
The foundation stone of Jami Masjid is said to have been laid in even before Champaner — Pavagadh was won in battle by Mahmud Begda. It is a rectangular structure and has a double storied main prayer hall.
The minarets at Kevada Masjid are beautifully carved with elaborate floral and geometrical designs. The roof has collapsed over the centuries and that gives a different character to Kevada masjid. Some ASI officials were present at Kevada Masjid to work on a survey; and the guard gave us a local cucumber. It was delicious and we had a wonderful time enjoying the views of the cenotaph as a cloud had covered the sun at that point and we could enjoy the breeze.
Nagina Masjid is a grand structure built on a high plinth. When we reached there, the sun had got quite strong and we spotted a few kids playing and chilling in the shade of the mosque! Entry to the Nagina Masjid is through an old gateway which seems to have been recently restored.
There was also a grown-up with the kids and he informed us that there was a well nearby for ablutions before entering the mosque. Cenotaph at Nagina Masjid : The cenotaph in front of Nagina Masjid is exquisite and perhaps the most beautiful structure in entire Champaner in terms of architectural finesse.
It is open on all four sides and is richly decorated by floral designs. It was only by a stroke of luck that we ended up at Lila Gumbaj-ki-Masjid that was situated in a different corner of Champaner.
Lila Gumbaj-ki-Masjid has a dominating central dome in white colour that can be seen from faraway in the landscape. Historical documents state that the dome was once covered with glazed work. The stairs to reach the top were not locked up this time and we gleefully made our way in the slender pathway.
I wondered why the royals made the space so small; we are both lean and could barely make our way to the top. The domes looked cool from close and the green landscape could barely be associated with dry and dusty Gujarat. I was pretty fascinated just hearing the name of the Ek Minar-ki-Masjid and the monument did not disappoint at all.
As the name suggests, the mosque only comprises of a solitary minar. The single minaret is of five storeys and looks stunning in the green landscape. Ek Minar ki Masjid is located outside the city limits of Champaner entrance and it was nice to see a guard appointed by ASI even in this far-off place.
Ek Minar ki Masjid also had a stepwell in the complex and scattered stones indicating that there may have been more construction originally. It was constructed by Bahadur Shah during — AD. Among the plethora of mosques in Champaner; Panch Mahuda-ki-Masjid was the least known and the most difficult to access.
It may have been the farthest located from Champaner and lies outside the city limits. There was no signboard either and it was only our persistence that ensured we were actually able to reach Panch Mahuda-ki-Masjid. The way to this monument passed through a small hamlet and after we reached, it was a pleasant surprise to see a small ASI signboard with details.
Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
It is located around the historical city of Champaner , a city which was founded by Vanraj Chavda , the most prominent king of the Chavda Dynasty , in the 8th century. He named it after the name of his friend and general Champa, also known later as Champaraj. The heritage site is studded with forts with bastions starting from the hills of Pavagadh , and extending into the city of Champaner. The park's landscape includes archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage monuments such as chalcolithic sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat. There are palaces, entrance gates and arches, mosques, tombs and temples, residential complexes, agricultural structures and water installations such as stepwells and tanks , dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries. The transition between Hindu and Muslim culture and architecture in the late 15th to early 16th century is documented in the park, particularly the early Islamic and pre- Mughal city that has remained without any change. The Champaner-Pavagadh heritage site is spread over an area of more than 1, hectares 3, acres with a buffer zone of 2, hectares 6, acres.
Good Visit - Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
A concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape which includes prehistoric chalcolithic sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat. The site also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations, from the 8th to 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city. Champaner—Pavagadh bestaat uit een grote verzameling archeologische, historische en in gebruik zijnde erfgoedplaatsen, in een indrukwekkend landschap met prehistorische plaatsen uit de kopertijd. Het archeologisch park herbergt verder forten, paleizen, religieuze gebouwen, woonruimtes, landbouwstructuren en waterinstallaties uit de 8e tot de 14e eeuw. De Kalikamata tempel bovenop de Pavagadh heuvel, wordt beschouwd als een belangrijk heiligdom dat jaarlijks een groot aantal pelgrims aantrekt.
University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I was lounging around in the lush green lawn in front of Laxmi Vilas Palace, feeling a bit down since DSLR photography of the exteriors was not allowed. I had an instant thought of going Live on both Facebook and Instagram. By a stroke of luck my friend Jinit also happened to tune in to the live video. He lives in Baroda and we had met in Pushkar , back in The Punjabi family that I was staying with in Vadodara insisted that I have breakfast and only then leave from home. Many thanks for the same, it was super tasty!
Champaner Pavagadh UNESCO World Heritage Site : A Memoir
The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park with its ancient Hindu architecture, temples and special water-retaining installations, together with its religious, military and agricultural structures, dating back to the regional capital city built by Mehmud Begda in the 16th century, represents a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture, mainly in the Great Mosque Jami Masjid , which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. This special style comes from the significant period of regional sultanates. It is furthermore an outstanding example of a very short-lived capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural. The sites are at the foot of and around the Pavagadh hill, surrounded by lower hillocks, escarpments and plateaux, all result of volcanic eruptions and lava flows.