Trailing Gujarat: Champaner and Pavagadh

Vadodara was our base for visiting Champaner and Pavagadh thus we checked out early in the morning. After so many days I had something different but familiar in my breakfast. Poha and Chai were truly delightful and soon after we headed to bus stand for continuing our journey to Pavagadh. There are frequent busses to Pavagadh from Vadodara and road is superb.
 

* Railway station and Bus stand are some 5 km away in Vadodara. Frequent shared autos ply between and charges 10 INR in day and 20 INR in night.
Stepped Well and Jami Masjid
                                            Stepped Well and Jami Masjid

How to reach Pavagadh: Pavagadh is some 48 km from Vadodara. There are some direct busses from Vadodara (90 minutes, 44 INR). In case you don’t get a direct bus to Pavagadh then board any bus to Halol which is some 7 km before Pavagadh. There are frequent busses to Halol (Once in hour) from Vadodara. After halol you can catch a shared auto (10 INR, 15 minutes) to Pavagadh

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Jalli Work in Jami Masjid Champaner
                                          Jalli Work in Jami Masjid Champaner

Where to Stay: Vadodara is the most preferred base for the travelers to Pavagadh but I had seen some lodges and resorts near Halol as well.
** If you are not up for walking then you can hire a private auto (150 INR) for visiting all the monuments (Except those on Pavagadh hills) around Champaner.

Monuments around Pavagadh Hill
                                       Monuments around Pavagadh Hill

Inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage site, Champaner is a prehistoric site with river valleys, excellent fortifications, palaces, stepped wells, mosques, mausoleums, Houses of Nobles, Markets, Water Reservoir, Pleasure resorts etc. Most of these sites are well preserved and scattered around a hill which is called Pavagadh. Pavagadh hill is the home of some ancient jain temples and pilgrimage sites. Hill can be approached either by a trekking trail or by cable-car.
Central Dome of Jami Masjid
                                        Central Dome of Jami Masjid

Pavagadh Champaner area was occupied by man from pre-historic time, as could be known from stone tools late tradition ascribes the establishment of the town in this area of Champa, A minister of Vanraj chawda of Patan, Old temples of Shiva (Lakulish), Shakti and Jain Tirthankaras exist on the Mauliya plateau on the hill.
Kalika Mata Temple Pavagadh Hill
                                       Kalika Mata Temple Pavagadh Hill

Interesting Remains of the series of Gates and Fort lines, Catapult Stands, Road and Bridges, Palaces, Water reservoirs of several varieties, secular buildings belonging to Rajput and Sultanate period (C.10 th-16th century) are found on the hill.
Intricate Carving at Shahar ki Masjid
                                     Intricate Carving at Shahar ki Masjid

At the foot of the hill, pre-historic tools are found in the river valleys excellent fortifications, palaces, mosque, mausoleums, houses of Nobles (Amir Manjil), Markets, water reservoirs, Pleasure resorts etc are well preserved. Some of these are known as Mandvi, Shahar-Ki-Masjid, Jami Mosque, Kabutar Khana pavillion, Vada-Talav etc. Excavated remains of Amir Manzil, Shops, and residential structures indicate the glory of the mint town and the capital of Gujarat.
Carved Slab on the roof of Jami Masjid
                                        Carved Slab on the roof of Jami Masjid

After reaching Pavagadh, our plan was to visit all the monuments those lies on the bottom of Pavagadh hill and later visit the monuments on the hill top. We started with Royal enclosure which is a group of historical sites and can be covered walking. Sahar Ki Masjid is the first monument near the entrance.
Sahar Ki Masjid extended view
                                            Sahar Ki Masjid extended view

Sahar ki Masjid is one of the most imposing structures. Constructed very close to the royal enclosure, it might be the private masjid of the sultans with five Mihrabs. The main entrance is through an arched doorway flanked by two minarets. It is covered by a projecting, sloped Chhajja. Two more entries on either side of the central one are flanked by Jharokhas. One with stone Jali corresponding to each arched entry is a large dome, surrounded on all its four sides by smaller domes. A rectangular ablution tank was constructed in its premises. The mosque was built in later half of 15th century.
Custom house Champaner
                                          Custom house Champaner

Next was the Custom house which exits to the village of Champaner. Custom house, popularly known as Mandvi, is a well proportionate square structure constructed in circa 15th century A.D. It is situated in the middle of the fort of Champaner. The main purpose of constructing this structure is to separate the royal enclosure from other areas. During this reign of Marathas, this structure was used as Octroi or Custom house. Made of dressed stone, it seems to be originally six bays deep and five bays wide.
Minars in Jami Masjid Champaner
                                           Minars in Jami Masjid Champaner

After crossing the village, you will reach Jami Masjid, the most impressive building of Champaner. Jami Masjid is one of the finest mosques of Gujarat. This is a gigantic structure with two imposing minars on either side of the central entrance to the Prayer hall. The dome behind the high central screen of the facade is elevated on two extra storeys of open arcades. The roof just behind this dome is filled by carved slabs of great beauty and ingenuity of workmanship. There are seven Mehrabs (Prayer niches) in the back wall of the main prayer hall, the central being more elaborate. The northern section of this hall separated by a perforated screen reserved for ladies from where an extra entrance was provided. A pillared corridor goes round the vast court opening inside in Ogival arches supported by pillars. The mosque has three entrance porches to courtyard but the eastern porch is most remarkable for its intricate carving and Jali work. Outside the mosque, there is an octagonal tank for ablutions. Construction of mosque is datable to late 15th century. 
Kevda Masjid and Cenatop
                                     Kevda Masjid and Cenatop

Later we headed to countryside towards the lesser know monuments. Kevda masjid, Iteri Masjid and Nagina Masjid are beautiful mosques towards the forest. Kevda masjid built during the reign of Mahmud Begda (1458-1511 A.D) is rectangular on plan with a double storeyed main prayer hall. The two Minarets on either side of the central arched entrance are beautifully carved and niches are filled with floral and geometrical designs. The windows provided with pillared balcony are beautiful and exquisitely decorated. Originally the Mosque had three domes built above the prayer hall but the largest central dome has collapsed. The complex of mosque also comprises of a well, tank for ablutions and a few ruined brick structures. The square cenotaph located in front of the mosque has fluted central dome and four corner domes.
Nagina Masjid Champaner
                                            Nagina Masjid Champaner

Nagina Masjid is difficult to locate as it’s concealed inside the forest. After couple of unsuccessful attempts, we were able to reach Nagina Masjid. It’s an impressive architecture and one can actually reach the roof. Later we headed back to the town to fulfill the appetite and to Machi from where you get a cable car to Pavagadh hill.
 

Pavagadh/Champaner to Machi (5 km): Frequent Shared Jeeps ply between (10 INR) and there is also a state transport bus which runs back and forth.
Sat Kaman on Pavagadh Hills
                                          Sat Kaman on Pavagadh Hills

On the way to machi, one can also stop at the monuments that fall on the way to Machi. There are ruins of mosques, gates on the hill and the most prominent is the Sat Kaman which is 1 km before Machi. From Machi, either you can trek till the peak of Pavagadh hill which is some 2-3 hours of hiking or take a cable car till the peak. Trekking will give you a chance to visit the temples/monuments those lie enroute.

Cable car timing: 06:00 AM to 07:45 PM, 98 INR per person (both ways), 65 INR (descending), Lunch timing (12:50 PM to 1: 30 PM).
Lakulisha Temple Pavagadh
                                         Lakulisha Temple Pavagadh

we took the cable car and reached the top of Pavagadh hill. Pavagadh is a popular pilgrimage site especially visited for sacred Kalika Mata temple which is the highest point of the hill. Kalika Mata temple offers a spectacular view of the ruins scattered in the forest around the Pavagadh. Some other ancient Jain temples also lie on the hill cock and among those Lakulisha is the most appealing. Lakulisha temple is believed to be the oldest monument of Pavagadh and roots back to 10th-11th Century.  It is more of a ruin now and located on the bank of a pond.
Temples on Pavagadh hill
                                           Temples on Pavagadh hill

Soon after visiting the temples on Pavagadh hills, we took the cable car back to Machi for having lunch and visiting remaining monuments of Champaner. Pavagadh-Champaner group of monuments can easily consume you one day. Oddly enough but we had south Indian lunch the afternoon and then headed to Pavagadh…Visited Sat Kaman en route…  There is couple of historical sites on the way to Halol which are quite off the tourists trail. We hired a private auto to drop by..Sakar Khan’s Dargah is located on the main road and some 1-2 km from Pavagadh… Helical stepped well is another fascinating structure which is a bit off road towards the jungle.
Helical Stepped Well Champaner
                                           Helical Stepped Well Champaner

The helical (Spiral) stepped well made of bricks and stone paved steps consists of an entrance which leads to the stairway attached to the wall of the shaft and descends downwards like the coil of a snake. The steps of this stairway are 1.20m in width. The step well surrounded by 1 m high parapet wall is datable to circa 18th century A.D. The three distinct typologies of stepped well-Spiral, Linear and composite- enjoyed an element status in architectural development of the period.
Ek Minar Champaner
                                              Ek Minar Champaner

Finally we visited Ek-Minar which can be easily noticed from the main road and then headed to Halol to continue our journey further. 90 minutes bus journey from Halol to Vadodara and we were back on the bus stand waiting for the next bus to Ahmedabad, capital of Gujarat.

 

Trailing Gujarat Series: In Chronological Order

Trailing Gujarat: Train to Bhuj

Trailing Gujarat: Bhuj, Capital of Kutch

Trailing Gujarat: Northern Kutch, Dhordo and Kalo Dungar

Trailing Gujarat: Western Kutch, Lakhpat and Narayan Sarovar

Trailing Gujarat: Southern Kutch, Beachline of Mandvi

Trailing Gujarat: Eastern Kutch, Splendor of Rapar and Dholavira

Trailing Gujarat: Dhrangadhra, a lesser known delight of Gujarat

Trailing Gujarat: Little Rann of Kutch, Salt Plains and Heat Mirage

Trailing Gujarat: Jamnagar and Marine National Park, Narara

Trailing Gujarat: Dwarka, Where Pilgrims meet the end of earth (Read: Sea)

Trailing Gujarat: Junagadh, City of archaeological attractions

Trailing Gujarat: Gir National Park, last home of Asiatic Lions

Trailing Gujarat: Diu, Real thirst-quencher

Trailing Gujarat: Alang, Where Ships come to die

Trailing Gujarat: Champaner and Pavagadh

Trailing Gujarat: Ahmedabad and Lothal

Trailing Gujarat: Patan, Modhera and Separation

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