There are not many places in the world that went from being a small place of moderate importance to being the capital of the kingdom to being almost entirely deserted and nearly lost to the wilderness within a century, and in such recent history – a mere 500 years ago.
Champaner is just such a place. Here you can find an old palace, fort, several mosques, but also walk the ancient streets just as its inhabitants did five centuries ago.
Champaner was an out-of-the-way pilgrimage site for hundreds of years, became the capital of Gujarat, and was then abandoned to be overtaken by the jungle. The city rose and fell almost as fast as the modern stock market, but left behind far more aesthetic remains.
The city is remarkably well-preserved, with Hindu and Jain temples a thousand years old, mosques from the time of the Gujarat Sultanate, and the whole workings of a well-planned capital city still in evidence, from granaries and fortifications to stepwells and cemeteries. Champaner became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.
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 major mosques in Champaner are Shehar ki Masjid, Jami Masjid, Kewada Masjid and Nagina 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 oriel windows. This mosque belongs to 1513 and took 125 years to build and has a wonderful carved entrance and imposing courtyard. Inside, the ruler's 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.
The lower fortification is the citadel or the Champaner fort. The Champaner Fort was the royal enclosure of Muhammad Begara. 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 Sultan's Palace.
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 Sadanshah are located.
The Kalika Mata Temple is situated on the highest peak of the Pavagadh hill. This is one of the most sacred centre of the Hindu pilgrimage for devotees of the Goddess Kali. every year about one million people visit the temple. There is a rope way to reach the temple.}
The another important temple is the Lakulish Temple at Chhashia Talav. It has some beautiful sculptures depicting various forms of Shiva - Dakshinamurti, Ardhanarishvara and Kalyanasundaramurti.
How to get there
By road: Champaner is 45 km from Vadodara, accessible by bus or private vehicles. Cars can be hired in Vadodara to drive to Champaner-Pavagadh, which is the best option if you want to combine the journey with other sites like Jambughoda.
(Courtesy: gujarattourism.com, gujarat-tourism.net )