Journey Back in Time: Discovering Champaner-Pavagadh!

Journey Back in Time: Discovering the Enchanting Charm of Champaner-Pavagadh

Pavagadh is known for the temple of Goddess Mahakali on its top. These hills are so massive that the importance of Champaner at its base is obvious. Despite being a natural site, Champaner and its surrounding area have many ancient structures, and most of them are in relatively good condition. The repair work on these structures is also going on in full swing now. The stone-walled town of Champaner and the architectural masterpieces inside, outside, and around it take us back in history for a little over five hundred and six years. Let’s discover the enchanting charm of Champaner-Pavagadh.

Champaner-Pavagadh

Importance of Pavagadh  

Pavagadh, barely fifty kilometers north of Vadodara, is one such place. Most of the visitors here are believers who come here for pilgrimage. The famous temple has been renovated by the authorities, and that has given one more reason to visit Pavagadh. Hence, there is a terrible rush of people on certain festival days. During the monsoon period, it is relatively quiet here, so its natural beauty can be fully enjoyed. During the monsoon or after the end of the monsoon, for three to four months, even clean places look beautiful due to greenery, while the value of really beautiful places increases many times.

Importance of Champaner

Champaner-Pavagadh
Gate of Champaner

The magnificence of this hill is so immense that the importance of Champaner at its foot (despite being a World Heritage Site) may seem insignificant. There are many ancient structures in and around Champaner and most of them are in relatively good condition. The repair work on these structures is also going on in full swing now.

The stone-walled town of Champaner, with its architectural masterpieces inside, outside, and around it, takes us back in history a little over five hundred to six hundred years. One Minar Mosque, Helical Vaw (Step Well), Mandvi, Kamani Mosque, Kewda Mosque, Seven Arches, Dargah of Saqr Khan, Nagina Mosque, and Shirmore among all the Jami Masjids, are masterpieces of Indo-Islamic architecture. On the other hand, the Lakulesh temple, situated at a little height on the way to Pavagadh, is a classic example of Hindu architecture.

Archaeological importance of Champaner-PavagadhChampaner-Pavagadh

Even with a modest interest in architecture and art, there are enough places in Champaner to enjoy a full day in the foothills. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004, many of Champaner’s historic buildings have undergone renovations and are still ongoing. It is not difficult to find the places due to the boards placed along the road indicating the name of the building and the road. A total of 36 structures identified by the Archaeological Survey of India are located in Champaner.

Structure, Location and Surrounding places to Champaner-Pavagadh

Champaner-Pavagadh
Jami masjid

Like many other mountains, Pavagadh has very small hills, which are believed to have originated from volcanic eruptions. The height of Pavagadh is about 800 meters (2,625 feet). The height of Pavagadh is negligible even compared to the highlands of the Western Ghats, if not compared to the Himalayan mountains. Despite this, Pavagadh seems to stand majestically because it is completely alone in the surrounding flat terrain. In front of the clock, on the right of the clock, the Pavagadh looks like a silhouette, and as we come closer to it, the black rocks on it start to be seen.

Location of Champaner-Pavagadh

Champaner-Pavagadh
City Gate of Pavagadh

The toll road bypasses the village of Halol and leads to Champaner along the side of the road. Just by seeing the heritage-style design of the traffic circle here, one starts to feel Champaner in the mind. After crossing the circle, it is suggested to proceed at a slow pace instead of motoring in a hurry to reach Champaner. Even after coming to the main road to Champaner, if you continue in the same way, you can fully enjoy the beauty of nature. A new road has been constructed from Dhabadungari village, located here, to Ghoghamba village without entering Champaner.

A Brief History of Champaner-Pavagadh

 

Champaner-Pavagadh
Delhi gate of Champaner

Legends about Champaner are more prevalent than history. It is believed that Godess Mahakali resided here, as described in folk songs. However, as it is a matter of Purana and fits into the Garba (folk songs) gradient, it looks so picturesque. According to another legend, Baiju Bawra, one of the Nine Jewels of Mughal Emperor Akbar‘s court and the independent singer who competed against the famous singer Tansen, was a native of Champaner.

There are three theories about the name of this town. It is believed that the name Champaner was derived from the color of the reddish stones here, which resemble the champak (golden) flower. According to another theory, Champaner is said to have been named after Champa Vania, a friend and diwan of King Vanraj Chawda of the Gujarat region. A third theory also says that the town was named Champaner after a Bhil leader named Champa.

Pre-historical connection of Champaner-Pavagadh

Champaner-Pavagadh

Pavagadh and Champaner, situated at its foothills, have been of special importance in the history of Gujarat. Remains of the Stone Age (dating back to 3000 BC) have been found during excavations in this area. Coins from the period of Maitraka rulers (AD 465–AD 767) have also been found. The rocks of some areas here are known to be of Precambrian age, which can be said to be the oldest rocks found in India.

Who ruled over Champaner-Pavagadh?

Champaner-Pavagadh

Around 1300 AD, the area of ​​Pavagadh came into the hands of the rulers of the Chauhan dynasty, whose total reign spanned 184 years. To capture Champaner, Ahmadshah invaded in AD 1418 and AD 1420, but he did not succeed. Once more, he attacked in 1431, and once more, he returned empty-handed. In 1450, Muhammad II attacked here and captured the lower fort. However, he eventually had to leave for Godhra.

The last Rajput ruler of Champaner was Patai Rawal, who was defeated by Sultan Nasiruddin Muhammad Shah of Gujarat. Muhammad Shah besieged his fort for twenty consecutive months and increased his aggression. Patai Rawal fell after that siege, which lasted from April 1483 to December 1484. Muhammad Shah made Champaner his second capital, and he named it Mehmedabad. Muhammad Shah, who conquered Pavagadh, was later nicknamed ‘Begdo’ (conqueror of the two forts of Junagadh and Pavagadh) and came to be known in history as ‘Muhammad Begda’. Bagda’s contribution was also important in the construction of towns like Khambhat, Bharuch, Junagadh, Mahemdabad, and Ahmedabad.

Champaner flourished during the reign of Muhammad Begda, but it was short-lived. Mughal Shah Humayun invaded here and then returned to the capital shortly after Muhammad III captured Chapaner during the reign of Emperor Akbar. After many years, the town came into the hands of Krishnaji Kadam and then into the hands of Sindhia at the turn of the eighteenth century. It was finally handed over to the British in 1853.

Famous Monuments in Champaner

Champaner-Pavagadh

Examining the above history of Champaner, it appears that Muslim rulers did not rule here permanently. There have been coups in this town from time to time. Another thing is that the structures that have been established in Champaner do not seem to be ready in two to four years. Looking at the grandeur of each architecture, the carvings on stones, theChampaner-Pavagadh structure of arches, domes, etc., it is easy to see that the work must have gone on for years.

What is more surprising is that what would be the calculation behind building such a large number of artistic structures in a relatively small area with ​​a radius of barely eight to ten kilometers? The city mosques of Nagina Masjid, Kevada Masjid and Jami Masjid are very close to each other. It is possible that the construction started during the reign of one ruler was continued by the next ruler, and he himself started a new construction.Champaner-Pavagadh

There are two main types of mosques in Champaner, architecturally. Domed and arched, and beamed, columned, and domed, Champaner, nestled within a stone wall, appears not to be a deserted, cornered ancient place but a living and pulsating place. Of course, the small stalls are erected all over to facilitate the pilgrims of Pavagadh, detracting from the beauty and adding to the filth of Champaner. If the shops or lorries can be planned better, the beauty of Champaner will be enhanced, as there is a beautiful natural landscape here.Champaner-Pavagadh

Many types of construction are found in Champaner. like armory, cells for prisoners, arches and gates, fort, palace, barn, temple, mosque, tomb, cistern, well, embankment, hamam (baths), bridge, step well, water canals, housing, etc. All the other towns built during the time of Muhammad Begda have changed to a considerable extent in their present form, while Champaner has not seen such a change.Champaner-Pavagadh

Champaner has a beautiful gate to enter, but before entering it, a minaret can be seen in the distance, which is a minaret mosque. There are steps leading up to the top of this mosque. However, one cannot go up as the archaeology department has closed the main gate in front of the steps with an iron collapsible gate. The garden around the mosque is well maintained and remains enjoyable.

Apart from ponds, wells are also constructed in Champaner for water storage, which is very artistic. After crossing the step-well known as ‘Helical’ comes Saqar Khan’s Tomb It is not very well known who Saqar Khan was, but such a grand tomb was built in his name. It may mean that their heirs will hold important positions.Champaner-Pavagadh

Champaner-Pavagadh
Saat Kaman

Entering the Kot (core) area of ​​Champaner is the city mosque and a little further on a closed road is a structure known as “Mandvi”. Originally built to isolate the royal area from other areas, the structure was used by the Marathas as a ‘chungighar’ (custom house).

After entering the Kot area of ​​Champaner, we come out and there is Jami Masjid, which is the largest and most artistic mosque. Columns, arches, domes, relic carvings of Koolbutta, stone lattices, etc. are found here in abundance. Two more mosques are known as ‘Kewda’ and ‘Nagina’. Nagina Masjid is well inside, so we cut through corn fields to reach it. Standing alone, the mosque looks magnificent. However, it does have a musty smell and the sound of bats inside.

In Jami Masjid (mosque), there is a lake called Vada (Bada) a little further from the mosque. Many Gujarati film songs have been filmed here in the pillared and domed structure. Pavagadh, seen in the background of the lake, has also appeared in several films as ‘Girnar’. There is a plank of Kamani Masjid on the way to Vada Lake, so we turned in that direction.

After crossing the green tunnel-like road and reaching half a kilometer, the back of the mosque came into view. But as soon as we went up the steps, we got to know why it got the name ‘Kamani Masjid’. The edifice, which was under renovation at the time, is being reconstructed with Dhrangadhra stones in what is said to be the same design as the original architecture.

There are many buildings in Champaner that are yet to be seen. In many buildings, the archeology department has put up iron gates, which mostly remain open. Such iron gates spoil the historical look of the whole structure.

Quick Info:

Category Information
Location Pavagadh and Champaner, Gujarat, India
Nearest City Vadodara (Baroda)
Famous For Pavagadh Fort, Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park
Best Time to Visit October to March
Weather Summers (March to June): 25°C to 40°C
Monsoon (July to September): 23°C to 32°C
Winter (November to February): 10°C to 25°C
How to Reach Nearest Airport: Vadodara Airport (42 km)
Nearest Railway Station: Vadodara Railway Station (47 km)
Well-connected by road; buses and taxis available
Attractions 1. Pavagadh Fort: Historical fortress with scenic views
2. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park: UNESCO World Heritage Site
3. Kalika Mata Temple: Sacred Hindu temple on Pavagadh Hill
4. Jama Masjid: Magnificent mosque in Champaner
Accommodation Various hotels and guesthouses in Vadodara
Limited accommodation options in Pavagadh
Local Cuisine Gujarati cuisine, street food in nearby towns
Language Gujarati, Hindi, and English widely understood
Local Transport Auto-rickshaws, taxis, and local buses available
Safety Generally safe; follow standard travel precautions
Currency Indian Rupee (INR)
Time Zone Indian Standard Time (IST)
Emergency Contact Police: 100, Medical: 108, Fire: 101
Tips for Tourists 1. Dress modestly, especially in religious places
2. Carry water and sunscreen, especially in the summer.
3. Respect local customs and traditions

Points to know before visiting Pavagadh and Champaner:

  • Avoid visiting on Navratri (Chaitri and Aso) or religious festival days to get the most out of Champaner.
  • Boards are placed here showing the name of that architecture, but the whole map showing how many architectures are there in the whole area and in which place is not seen. Hence, it is important to keep the speed of the vehicle slow so as not to miss anything.
  • Before reaching Champaner village, in the village, and after crossing the village, there are many buildings whose name boards are placed on the road.
  • Jami Masjid is the main attraction here, for which there is an entry ticket. The guide facility is not found here. Hence, if you visit Chapaner after getting basic knowledge about Jami Masjid and Muslim architecture in advance, you can enjoy it in a real sense.
  • Carry sufficient water, especially if you’re climbing the steps to the temple.
  • Be cautious with your belongings and avoid isolated areas.Gujarati is the predominant language spoken in the region, but Hindi and English are also understood in tourist areas.
  • Remember to research and plan your trip well in advance to make the most of your visit to Pavagadh and have a memorable experience.
  • Full address:  Pavagadh, Village: Champaner, Dist: Halol, Gujarat, India 
  • Latitude: 22° 28′ 0.19″ N
    Longitude: 73° 30′ 1.73″ E

 

Conclusion:

Since Pavagadh is a mountain, there is no doubt that there is natural beauty to be enjoyed. The Hindu-style architecture on the hill has to be talked about separately. But Champaner at the foothills of Pavagadh is mostly missed or overlooked on the way to Pavagadh. Hampi, Madu, or other places outside Gujarat, we can’t ignore Champaner, a wonderful architectural city at our doorstep. Even if one does not have a special understanding of art and architecture, the beauty of Champaner is such that a person, regardless of religion, caste, religion, or history, would feel like enjoying it. Champa can only be understood if a whole day is spent meaningfully wandering here.Journey Back in Time: Discovering Pavagadh & Champaner!

 


 

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1 thought on “Journey Back in Time: Discovering Champaner-Pavagadh!”

  1. Marvelous description and magnificent location. This article made me eager to visit Champaner & Pavagadh and I was able to relate the place to commas & full stops ..

    Great presentation, Creator. Keep up the good work

    Reply

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