Must Visit Places

History of Pavagadh :

It is said that the Rajput king Vanraj Chavda established Champaner at the foot of Pavagadh in fond memory of his wise minister Champa. Later, the Patai Raval family ruled it and took care of the boundary. The folk tales say that Mahakali assumed the form of a woman and danced in a Garba during Navaratri. The last Patai, Jaisinh watched her with dirty looks. The deity became angry at Jaisinh and cursed him. As a result, the Muslim emperor of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada assaulted Pavagadh and won the hill on the boundary.

Patai was defeated and killed. Mahmud Begada shifted his capital from Ahmedabad to Champaner for some time for reasons of diplomacy. He developed the town by constructing buildings such as the fort of Champaner, Uohra mosque, Mandavi, Kirtistambh, the temple of Shalkh, Jama Masjid, Nagina Mosque and Kevda Mosque. The remains of the Palace of Begada are still found near Vad Talav (Banyan Pond) two kilometres (1.25 miles) away from Champaner.

Pavagadh along with Champaner and Machi is a UNESCO world heritage site. This site reflects grand historical confluence, displaying 1,200 years of history and culture. It is believed to bear testimony to the Indian Puranic ages, the Rajput saga, the glory of the reign of the Marathas, the Islamic influences and finally lays proof to the British occupation within its remains.

The government has granted many concessions and offered subsidies to the new industries coming up in this area. As a result of it, Halol and Kalol towns near Pavagadh have turned into virtual industrial estates. A film studio at Halol has this added advantage.

Pavagadh is also known as the birthplace of Gujarats famous musician, Baiju Bawra.

Pavagadh Fort and Temples :

The earliest part of the Champaner compound, the Pavagadh fort was an important fortress of the Solanki kingdom. The walls of the fort are still standing in parts, as are parts of the earliest known Hindu temple, a Lakulisa temple dated to the 10th-11th century. Other Hindu and Jain temples dating to the 13th-15th centuries, are of the Nagara style.

Pavagadh Hill (Kalika Mata Temple) :

At the summit of Pavagadh Hill, 762 m above sea level, is the temple to Mother Kali, which is the oldest in the area, dating from the 10th-11th centuries. Hindu pilgrims were coming to visit this temple from long before the development of Champaner as a major city, and they continued for hundreds of years after its decline, right up to the present day.

The temple has large fortifications and an open chowk in front, with two altars for sacrifices, and an array of lights for special occasions. The idol of Kalika Mata in the inner sanctum is only the head, the mukhwato, painted in red. Also present are full idols of Mahakali and the yantras of Bahuchara.

Lakulisa Temple :

The Lakulisa Temple located at Pavagadh is one of the earliest known Hindu temples. The remains of the temple that dates about 10th-11th century, still exist at Pavagadh in Gujarat.

The Shakti Peeth Temple :

The Pavagadh Shakti Peeth is located at at a distance of about 50 km from Vadodara in Gujarat; it is located near Champaner the ancient capital of Gujarat. The three main Shakti Peethas of Gujarat are Ambaji at Arasur, Bala at Chunval and Kali at Pavagadh near Champaner. Other Shakti shrines in Gujarat are those at Asapura in Kutch, Arbudadevi on Mount Abu, Sundari at Halvad, Harsiddhi at Kolgiri or Koyla and Anasuya on the Narmada.

Gate of the Fort Walls :

The first line of defense of the Pavagadh fort was the great wall surrounding it. The walls, and the gates surrounding it, date to the 13th century. The first fortification is entered through the Atak Gate, which has two gateways and catapult structures. The western end has the Budhiya gate, with three gateways. The Machi gate has four successive gates joined by huge battlements; of these the Moti or Sadan Shah Gate is the most important, cut through solid rock.

Champaner :

Champaner, situated about 47 kms. north east of Vadodara. Champaner is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Gujarats former capital. Champaner was established as the Chauhan Rajput capital in the 8th century. It is an ancient fort located at the foothills of Pavagadh. The walls at the base of the hill were once 6 kms. long and surround military, civic and religious buildings and complex water harvesting systems. The town derives its name from the Champa tree or from Champaraja, founder of the town, a contemporary of King Vanraj Chavda of Anhilwada. The entire landscape is scattered around with remains of fort walls, ruined tombs, gardens, arches, pillars and wells. In the old city, the remains of many fine mosques and palaces show a blend of Islamic and Hindu decoration styles, a unique style encouraged by Champaners relative isolation.

History of Champaner :

Champaner was established as the Chauhan Rajput capital in the 8th century. The town derives its name from the Champa tree or from Champaraja, founder of the town, a contemporary of King Vanraj Chavda of Anhilwada. The famous Muslim king of Gujarat, Muhammad Begada captured the fort in the late 15th century after a long siege against the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs. On a strategic trade route, it was besieged by Sultan Mahmud Begara, who succeded in taking it in 1484 AD. The fortress was the old capital of the local Rajputs who lost it in 1484 to Sultan Mahmud Begada who renamed it Muhammadabad. It is said that it took 23 years to build his new city. Many bazaars, ton squares, royal gardens and water structures, including mosques were constructed during these years. I also became a major trading center producing fine silk, wove and dyed textile and sword manufacturing. Its decline started after attacks by the Mughal Emperor Humayun in 1535 AD. In his campaign in Gujarat, the Mughal Emperor Humayun personally led a small team that scaled the walls of the city using iron spikes and then let the rest of the army in through the main gate. After the death of Sultan Bahadur Shah in 1536 AD, the royal capital was again moved back to Ahmedabad. With the collapse of the Empire, Champaner passed to the Mughals, Marathas and British. In 1803 AD, when the British took the town, it was overgrown with jungles and had only 500 inhabitants.

Tourist Attractions in Champaner :

At Champaner, one can see three fortifications - the base (Champaner), the top (Pavagadh) and the area connecting both of them (Machi). The lower fortification is the citadel or the Champaner fort. The major mosques in Champaner are Shehar ki Masjid, Jami Masjid, Kewada Masjid and Nagina Masjid. In Kewda Masjid, you can walk up the narrow stairs to the rooftop, with the globe like domes, as rounded as fruit and even further up the minarets for great views. Nearby is the Iteri Masjid, with brick built minarets that resemble factory chimneys and even further into the countryside is the Nagina Masjid, with no minarets but exquisite geometric carving. The Jami Masjid is intact and is a large, richly ornamented mosque modelled on the Friday Mosque at Ahmedabad. There are interesting Gujarati features such as oral windows. At Champaner, one can see three fortifications - the base (Champaner), the top (Pavagadh) and the area connecting both of them (Machi). The major mosques in Champaner are Shehar ki Masjid, Jami Masjid, Kewada Masjid and Nagina Masjid.

Jami Masjid :

The Jami Masjid is intact and is a large, richly ornamented mosque modelled on the Friday Mosque at Ahmedabad. This mosque is one of the finest examples of the Sultanate architecture of Gujarat. It is an imposing structure on a high plinth with two tall minarets of 30 meter height, 172 pillars and seven mihrabs. There are interesting Gujarati features such as oral windows. This mosque belongs to 1513 and took 125 years to build and has a wonderful carved entrance and imposing courtyard. Inside, the rulers prayer hall is divided from the main space by jalis. Behind the building is an octagonal kund (lake), Hauz-i-Vazu, used for washing before prayer.

Champaner Fort :

The lower fortification is the citadel or the Champaner fort. The Champaner Fort was the royal enclosure of Muhammad Begada. It is a perfect rectangle enclosed by the massive walls with huge bastions and entrance gates with carved balconies projecting from top. On the north-west of the citadel is the huge lake - Vada Talav and ruins of Sultans Palace.

Machi :

The ruins of Khapra Zaveri Palace are located on the way from the base to Machi. From its terrace, one can have a fabulous view of the origin of Vishwamitri River. Atak gate is one of the nine gates that leads to the hilltop. It has two catapult stands for hurling stones at the enemies. Other monuments from Machi to hilltop are Makai Kothar - a granary with the fort, Kalika Temple and a shrine of Muslim Saint Sadan shah are located.

Brick Tomb :

One of the only brick tombs in Gujarat, it has a central brick dome, four corner domes, and four arched entrances on the four sides.

Citadel :

The citadel built by Mahmud Begda has walls running north-south, with many bastions and gates. All of the gates were two-storeyed, with rooms for watchkeepers. Four of the gates are still in good condition. The east and south gates (known also as the Halol and Godhra gates) are very large rectangular gates, and are the most worthwhile to visit.

Makai Kothar :

These are large brick structures with domes used for storing grain for the garrison.

Helical Stepwell :

This 16th century well has a 1.2m-wide staircase that spirals down along the wall of the well shaft, making it quite unusual in design among stepwells of the region.

Mandavi Customs House :

Originally built to separate the royal palace from the rest of the development, the Mandvi stands in the middle of the Champaner fort. During Maratha rule, it was used as a customs house.

Sikander Shahs Tomb - Halol :

Sikander Shah, ruler of Champaner who was assassinated by Imad-ul-Mulk, Khusqadam in 1526 AD, is buried here along with his two brothers. A beautiful stone structure with fluted domes, though simple, it is quite remarkable in its aesthetics and craftsmanship.

Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary :

An easy destination to combine with a visit to Champaner is the Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary, a mere 30 km away (75 km from Vadodara). Full of forests of teak and mahuda trees, bamboo, and other lush vegetation, Jambughoda is home to large populations of many kinds of wildlife. The leopard at the top of the food chain is the primary predator, and its numbers have been increasing recently. Other large wildlife include the wild boar, nilgai (blue bull, the largest antelope in Asia), jackal, hyena, barking deer, sloth bear, and chausingha(four-horned antelope).

Before independence, the region belonged to the princely state of Jambughoda. The valleys nestled in the well-forested hills have always been home to many tribal settlements. There are many places to hike through the forests in the sanctuary and it is a marvelous camping site. For those without the experience to camp, a forest rest house is available beside the Kada reservoir, one of two reservoirs in the sanctuary.

Dhanpari Eco Campsite - Jambughoda :

Dhanpari is a well-stocked forest eco-tourism site situated inside the Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary, inside the Panchmahal District of Central Gujarat. The campsite is surrounded by this magnificient forest which is home to a variety of flora a fauna. The plant species inlude teak, bamboo and other plant species. He leopard is the top predator here and other animal species include the sloth bears, blue bulls, jackals, wild boars, four horned antelopes and a variety of reptiles.

The area has two water reservoirs, one at Kada and the other at Targol. The campsite is near the Kada Dam and its a beautiful site to visit with a picturesque location and it also has a forest rest house. Other sightseeing options are the Jund Hanuman Temple which is 10 kms away from the campsite and also the Targol reservoir.

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