Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park


Champaner is located at a distance of 50 km from Baroda and at the foothill of the Pavagadh hill in Gujarat.

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park holds 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 grew over a long period of time and every period respected the natural beauty of the setting. One can perceive the manner in which the builders of the past have utilised the difficult topography and learn valuable lessons of planning and construction. Together they make an eloquent picture with the natural landscape adapted and modified to create some of the best examples of military architecture and its unique identity.

The cultural resource significance of Champaner can be outlined as below:

  • Significant Setting:Champaner- Pavagadh has a truly spectacular setting of the dominant Pavagadh and a series of hillocks cradling the built heritage of different periods. The hill of Pavagadh reises to a height of about 800 m and comes down in five successive plateaus viz., Kalikamata Plateau, Mauliya Plateau, Bhadrakali Plateau, Machi Plateau and the Atak Plateau. This hill, said to be an outcome of a sudden volcanic eruption, is the only one in the surroundings and commands a breathtaking view from as far as Baroda on one side and Godhra on the other.
  • Significant Geology:Champaner series of rocks is the oldest land form in India which falls within the buffer zone. The “pre cambrains” or the older rocks found in the area beyond Wada Talao constitute the Champaner series comprising phyllites, slates, and quartzites.
  • Significant Pre- Historically:The chalcolithic finds have been discovered along the river bank testifying it as a prehistoric habitat.
  • Significant Regional Town Planning:There are considerable remains of Rajput hill fortress of the earlier Hindu capital that prove that there is a possibility to better understand the Gujarat regional planning and its development. Since more work has been done on the Mughals we have a different perception of their contribution. An understanding of such regional capitals would lead to a very different perception where Regional Town Planning becomes more important for revealing the derivation of Islamic Town Planning from its Rajput predecessor.
  • Significant Archaeological Site:The 15th century deserted capital of greater Gujarat, built by great builder Mahmud Begharha, is now lying buried beneathe the forest cover. Apart from the excavations carried out by Dr. R. N. Mehta in the 1960’s, the buried city is absolutely unexplored. One can find the evidence of the medieval city in its most complete and untouched form. This site is a milestone in reconstructing history of the regional medieval times.
  • Significant Built Heritage Components:The site offers a variety of components forming the built heritage. All the identified structures in Champaner- Pavagadh can belong to any of the following typologies distinguishable by its original function. The building typologies identified are military structures like Armoury, Barracks, Manjanik (Catapults), Darwaza (Gates), Killa (Fortifications), Kotardi (Prison Cells); residential structures like Mahal (Palaces), Manzil, Kothar; civic structures like Baradari (Pavilion); religious structures like Mandir, Masjid, Maqbara; Jalaashay like Kund/ Hauz (Tanks), Kuan (Wells), Bandh (Dams), Hamam (Baths), Pul (Bridge), Water Channels, Vavs (Stepped Wells); residential and commercial precincts. The military architecture of the site is definitely significant with its arrangement of Fortifications, Gates, Catapults, etc.
  • Significant Scientific Developments:Understanding the traditional water networks is an emerging area of research. Slowly the traditional engineering and knowledge are being rediscovered. In Champaner, the challenges of the Pavagadh hill were considerable but still water was being stored at a considerable height and supplied to the city very efficiently. The water was collected in large catchments by diverting it from small rivulets and stored at a higher plane to keep the ground water recharged. The city is dotted with thousands of wells which catered to the requirements of the individual households. The royal palaces had elaborate systems of water channels running through the inner rooms for creating comfortable and cool environments for the inhabitants.
  • Significant Example of a Creative Genius:Mahmud Begharha was a famous builder of his times in the 15th century. He founded several cities in Gujarat of which Champaner is a paramount of his accomplishments.
  • Regional Religious Significance:Champaner- Pavagadh is an important regional religious centre for the state of Gujarat. This makes it not just an archaeological site but a “living” settlement and a thriving pilgrimage destination. The temple of Kalikamata at the summit of the Pavagadh Hill is valued immensely in the region. It is a very important shrine and is visited by lakhs of pilgrims through the year.
  • Outstanding buildings as examples of Gujarat Regional Style of Architecture:, Jama Masjid unique which signifies the continuation of the Hindu building traditions and incorporates the new Islamic style, it typifies the best of regional architectural expression. Its entrance- Gatehouse is a forerunner to the Jahangir Style of buildings belonging to the Mughal times constructed in marble. Budhiya Gate- an extraordinary semi- rock cut and constructed gate which resolves successfully the difficult topography and change of levels of the Pavagadh with numerous turns in a labyrinth form to confuse and trap the enemy, Atak Fort with Catapults- the most spectacular pre- artillery military defence , Lakulisha Temple- the oldest temple in the region.

Criterion (iii): 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 cultures which have disappeared.

Criterion (iv): The structures represent a perfect blend of Hindu-Moslem 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.

Criterion (v): The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is an outstanding example of a very short living Capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural features. It is quite vulnerable due to abandonment, forest takeover and modern life.

Criterion (vi): The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a place of worship and continuous pilgrimage for Hindu believers.



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