Sunday, August 18, 2013

Champaner-Pavagadh : A world heritage site

Champaner-Pavagadh in Halol taluka of Godhra(Panchmahal) district in eastern Gujarat is a World Heritage Site in eye-catching setting of Pavagadh hill. The site was declared a World Heritage Site in July 2004 by UNESCO. The ruins of this site like mosques, temples, forts etc. are perfect examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. In fact Champaner is a magnificent example of pre-Mughal township. You can find that the igneous rocks used in monuments of Pavagadh are of light yellow colour with a hint of red colour. This pigmentation of rocks make them resemble a Champaka flower and this is what gave the name Champaner to this medieval town. Pavagadh has been mentioned as Pavakgadh (fire hill) or Pavangadh (wind hill) in ancient manuscripts.

 


About Pavagadh Hill :
Pavagadh Hill
The height of hill is around 830 meters and it descends in the following five successive plateaus which are separated by steep cliffs:
  • Kalikamata. (highest)
  • Mauliya.
  • Bhadrakali.
  • Machi.
  • Atak. (lowest)
The hill is drained off by following streams : 
  • Sukli.
  • Jorvan.
  • Vishwamitri.
The steep cliffs and high plateaus on west and south used to make it safe from any kind of invasion. I think this was the main reason because of which forts and temples were built on these plateaus.
Hindu tradition describes that Pavagadh hill have been formed from the toe of the goddess Sati, a previous incarnation of Kali.


BASIC INFORMATION :

Name of destination : Champaner-Pavagadh

District : Godhra.

State : Gujarat.

Country : India.

Places I visited
  • Atak Gate.
  • Sadan Shah Gate.
  • Sat Kaman.
  • Ruins of Patai Rawal Palace.
  • Lakulisa Temple.
  • Group of Jain Temples.
  • Jami Masjid.
  • Sahar-ki-Masjid.
  • Ek Minar-ki-Masjid.
  • Sarkar Khan's Tomb.
  • East and South Bhadra Gate.
  • Kalikamata Temple. 
Other places to visit :
  • Delhi Gate.
  • Southern Citadel.
  • Mandvi.
  • Chor Kothadi.
  • Nagina Masjid.
  • Lila Gumbaj-ki-Masjid.
  • Kevada Masjid.
  • Panch Mahuda-ki-Masjid.
  • Bawaman Mosque.
  • Sikandar Shah Tomb.
  • Halical vav.
  • Kabutar Khana, Vada Talao.
Languages spoken : Gujarati, Hindi, English.

HOW TO ARRIVE ?


Nearest Railway Station: Champaner Road Junction, Railway Station [Approximately 17.9 kms] (Station Code : CPN)


Nearest Major Cities : Vadodra (Approx. 48.6 kms), Ahmedabad (Approx. 150 kms), Anand (Approx. 82 kms), Godhra (Approx 43.3.kms)


Nearest Airport : Vadodra (Approx 44 kms)


Lodging Facilities : There are several hotels and guest houses in Champaner. But, if you are planning to stay at Pavagadh Hill then there is only one guest house at Machi.


Parking Facilities : If you are planning to go for a trek on Pavagadh hill then the best place to park your vehicle is in the parking near Roadways Station. You will be charged an amount of Rs. 10 to Rs. 50 on the basis of the type of vehicle you are parking there.
You can also take your vehicle to Machi and park it there. But after that you need to climb thousand of steps to reach the summit. The only alternative to reach the top is to use rope-way facilities.


Restaurants : There are lots of good restaurants at Champaner and Pavagadh hill where you can enjoy Punjabi and Gujarati food.

Rope-way facilities :
If you don't have the calibre to trek on Pavagadh hill then there is a private rope-way service available from Manchi to the hill top near the Maha Kalika Temple. But, if you really want to see all the monuments like Atak Gate, Sadan Shah Gate etc. that lies on the way to summit of the hill then, you will have to trek.




Entry fee and toll-tax payments on Vadodra-Halol highway :
  • You will have to buy entry tickets to enter monuments protected by Archaeological Survey of India. The cost of tickets is Rs. 10 for Indians and USD $5 for foreigners.
  • There is no entry fee for children up to 15 years of age.
  • There is no fee for still photography at ASI protected monuments but you need to pay Rs. 25 for videography.
  • You'll have to pay a toll-tax on Vadodra-Halol highway. The amount depends on the kind of vehicle you are driving. 

The history behind glimpse of Indo-Islamic architecture in monuments of Champaner-Pavagadh :

Era of Hindu rule :

Some of the antiquities that have been found at Champaner such as cleavers, hand axes and choppers are datable to stone age. The earliest historical monument in this region is the Lakulisha Temple located on the Mauliya plateau that was built around 10th to 11th century A.D.
The ruins of Lakulisha Temple
The Maitraka coins discovered from river Jorvan during excavations suggests that this region was under the Maitraka rulers (approximately A.D. 470-776)
The Kichhi branch of Chauhan Rajput took control over Pavagadh around A.D. 1300 and ruled for the next 184 years.

Era of Muslim rule :

In A.D 1418, 1420 and 1431 Ahmad Shah marched into Champaner with his army but, he was not able to conquer the fortress. In A.D. 1450 Muhammad II invaded and took over the lower fortress but later he retired to Godhra. Patai Rawal was the last Rajput ruler who got defeated by Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat. Before surrender hundreds of Rajputs prepared for the jauhar in which wives of Rajputs killed themselves to avoid dishonour by the hands of Muslim invaders. After conquering the fortress Mahmud Begada made Champaner his second capital and named it as Muhammadabad.
Most of the monuments such as mosques having a complete blend of Hindu-Islamic architecture were built during the rule of Mahmud Begda(1459-1511 A.D.). During his reign Champaner flourished, but the glory of city was short lived.
The city was attacked by Humayun, the Mughal ruler during the reign of Sultan Bahadur Shah in A.D. 1534. After conquest he shifted the capital from Champaner to Ahmedabad. Mahmud III (1537-1554 A.D.) soon captured Champaner during the period of Akbar. Later Shah Mirza took possession of Champaner but the city rapidly declined.

Role played by Britishers :

Krishnaji Kadam took possession of Champaner in 1727 A.D. and later it came under reign of Scindias. Scindias handed it over to the Britishers in A.D. 1853. It was because of the efforts of Britishers in India that historical monuments were retrieved from their forest hideouts.    

A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE MONUMENTS  I VISITED

I visited East and South Bhadra Gates, Jami Masjid, Ek Minar-Ki-Masjid, Sahar-Ki-Masjid and Sarkar Khan's Tomb before reaching the base of Pavagadh hill in order to start my trek to summit. All these monuments are located near by the roadways bus station at Champaner.

Ek Minar-Ki-Masjid :

Ek Minar-Ki-Masjid
It was one of the best architectural wonders I have seen in India. It has only one 5 storey minaret (a tall slender tower attached to a mosque, having one or more projecting balconies from which a muezzin summons the people to prayer.) and the remnants of mihrab (a niche or arched recess in the western wall of Indian mosques, towards which the devotees turn for prayers). If you carefully look at this monument for sometime then you will be able to identify the following characteristic of each floor:
  • Ground floor is almost square in shape.
  • 1st floor is 8-sided.
  • 2nd and 3rd floors are 16-sided.
  • Top floor is circular in shape.
It was constructed by Bahadur Shah (1526-35 A.D.).






Sahar-Ki-Masjid

Sahar-Ki-Masjid

It was the private mosque for royal family where people belonging to the royal house used to offer prayers. The mosque has 5 mihrabs. The mosque is constructed on a raised platform and the central arched entrance is flanked by 2 minarets. Corresponding to each arched entry is a large dome.


Jami Masjid

Jami Masjid
I consider it as one of the finest mosques in Gujarat that was built on the foundations of Indo-Islamic architecture. It is the most imposing monument in Champaner. You can enter this mosque through three imposing porches from the north, south and east side. The last is the most remarkable one for its intricate carving and perforated screens.
The mosques at Champaner fall broadly in the following two categories of construction style:
  • trabeate : column and beam style.
  • arcuate : column and arch style.
Most of the mosques including the Jami Masjid belong to trabeate style as in India building material largely used was stone.
The prayer hall have five pointed archways, the central higher one is flanked by two slender minarets. Four corners of the prayer hall also have smaller minarets. The dome behind the high central arch of the facade is elevated on clerestory to allow natural light and ventilation inside the mosque. There are 7 mihrabs in the back wall of the main prayer hall among which central being more elaborate. The northern section is separated by a perforated screen and also provided with a separate entrance known as Muluk Khana which shows that it was reserved for royal ladies. There are 172 pillars inside the hall so arranged as to provide for 11 larger domes.
At the top of the central mihrab, a tablet was fixed which contained inscription about the date of completion. The tablet has disappeared now.

Sarkar Khan's Tomb

It is located in the complex of Kasbin talao. It is the largest tomb structure in the old city.
Sarkar Khan's Tomb in Kasbin Talao complex.

East and South Bhadra Gates

South Bhadra Gate

The trek to summit :

Climbing the steps to reach Atak Gate
After visiting some of the famous monuments in Champaner I started my trek from Champaner-Pavagadh roadways bus station situated at the foothill of Pavagadh with my elder brother Mayank. Before reaching Atak Gate I found the trek to be an easy one as there were simple cemented steps that I had to climb. Because of monsoons the weather was really a perfect one for hiking on the mountains. All I could see were trees, trees and more dense trees. Luckily I saw one peacock on my side while hiking. The first monument I saw was the Atak Gate.








Catapult at Atak Gate :

Catapult behind fortress

On the back side of Atak Gate you can find the ruins of a catapult. These catapults were used to hurl heavy rocks on the army of an invader. These have a trapezoidal structure with parallel walls behind the main fortification.

Atak Gate :
Atak Gate
It was the first line of defence for the fortress on top of the hill. It is a double storey structure provided with catapults.
After crossing Atak Gate I found that the trek was not an easy one. There were several points which were very slippery because of thick fungal layers on the rocks. Moreover there were no cemented steps in the rest of trek before Machi. All we had to do was to find a route all the way in the dense jungle to Machi. I loved this part of the trek as it had a hint of adventure.



Lost in the dense jungle

 The next two monuments I found on the way to Machi were Sadan Shah Gate and Sat Kaman.

Sadan Shah Gate :

This gate is cut through solid rock on the top of which occur tall walls and bastions.

I was amazed by the size of rocks used in these gates.
Sadan Shah Gate


Sat Kaman :

Sat Kaman
Sat Kaman forms the end of Sadan Shah gate. It is located on the edge of a cliff on the south from where military personnel of ruler could view the entire town of Champaner below. It is built by using local yellow sandstone. The bastion is now left with seven arches.













The next monument I visited on my way to Kalikamata plateau was Bawaman Mosque.

Bawaman Mosque :

At first glance I thought that it was a jail. But on reading about it in the manual I found that it was a mosque is named after a saint Bawaman. He was a follower of Sadan Shah. The mosque has identical features except the arch-dome system i.e arcuate style employed in construction of this mosque.

Bawaman Mosque
From Bawaman Mosque I could see the ruins of Patai Rawal Palace on an isolated part the hill.

Ruins of Patai Rawal Palace
There is a small temple at the tip of the edge of the plateau where lies the ruins of Patai Rawal Palace. You should definitely go there as the view of town from there will definitely blow your mind. When I sat at the edge of the plateau I felt as if I'm flying like a bird in the sky. Following is the snapshot of the place :

View from the edge of the plateau

After staying there for an hour or so I stood up to complete my trek to the summit. On my way to the top I found a group of Jain Temples near Dudhiya Talao. 

Jain temples :

Parsavanath Jain Temple
There are around 8 Jain temples on top of the Pavagadh Hill. Gujarat is one of the important centres of Jainism in western India. The Jain temples at Pavagadh belong to the Digambar sect and distributed in 3 groups. The Rashbhanath temple is located in the old compound. Parsavanath temple is left only with signs of its existence. The temple of Chandraprabha has undergone extensive repairs with time.










Lakulisha Temple :
Main entrance of Lakulisha Temple with the central deity on top portion of the entrance's lintel.

 When I saw first saw the ruins of Lakulisha temple submerged in the water of Chasia talao(a tank generally provided with masonry steps) it didn't appeared to me like a temple. It comprises of following four major parts but only parts of superstructure have survived till date:
  • Garbhagriha : The sanctum sanctorum.
  • Antarala : A small space or front room between the garbhagriha (shrine) and mandapa.
  • Mandapa : The prayer hall right in front of the shrine.
  • Entrance porch.
Lakulisha seated on padmasana in yogasana
Lakulisha was an ardent devotee of Siva. He lived in the second century A.D. and was an inhabitant of Karwan (ancient Kayavrohana) in Vadodara district of Gujarat. He was associated with the development of Pasupata cult of Saivas. He is an incarnation of Siva. In sculptural representations, he is shown seated in the padmasana posture and holds a club (laguda or lakula) in his hands, so the name Lakulisha. Very rarely he is shown in yogasana posture with yogapatta, a band of cloth around the knee.









Kalikamata Temple :

This temple is located at the summit of Pavagadh. A large number of devotees come to Pavagadh to visit this temple on daily basis. A yantra representing the deity is still worshipped here.
The temple is one of the major seats of the mother goddess of Gujarat. According to the legend the temple stands on the spot where the right toe of goddess Kalikamata fell.

4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks for appreciating my efforts in writing this post. In case you want me to add anything else in this post then do send me a mail at sychonet@gmail.com

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thanks for appreciating my efforts in writing this post. In case you want me to add anything else in this post then do send me a mail at sychonet@gmail.com

      Delete